For Fall Gucci’s Alessandro Michele is helping to redraw the lines of masculinity by revisiting the innocence of childhood as a reminder of a time when dressing was infinitely more playful and less constrained. Using children’s sweaters, school uniforms, and smocked dresses, the designer presented a treasure trove of pure nostalgia where pretty much anything goes on the dressing up front. Child-like gestures of self expression were elevated into the level of high brow fashion by unusual pairings which created striking new silhouettes that reflect on the awkward stages of growing up out of childhood.
Michele gives voice to a child’s innocent disregard for expected gender norms that come from “not knowing any better.” Mary Jane’s and penny loafers were worn over striped athletic socks and thick 80s era eyelet tights. A mix of grandpa jackets and grandma scarves reflect that period right before the teenage years really hit when kids want to dress like all the grown ups around them. Smocked dresses and Liberty prints embody a soft femininity that young boys are gradually and emphatically taught is off-limits. Michele seeks to liberate men from toxic masculinity by presenting a playfulness and gentleness as valid traits for men.
Michele drew inspiration from the growing pains of his teenage years where pure self expression becomes something you have to fight for. The giant pendulum swinging in the middle of the catwalk marks the passage of time. Particularly if you are a boy who wants to wear “girls” clothes. Several looks in the collection pay tribute to the iconic style of Kurt Cobain. A pioneer of Michele’s generation for his “I don’t give a fuck” type of dressing. You can instantly recognize him as the boy with sandy colored hair wearing a floral dress under a fuzzy grandma sweater coat, black leather shoulder bag, and ripped grunge jeans. In another look, a David Bowie look alike with red hair wears a gray tweed coat, lace blouse, jeans and loafers. It’s superstars like David Bowie that gave a lot of teenagers the inspiration and bravery to express themselves even if it meant being rejected by their peers around them. British Teddy Boy influences further highlight the rebellious spirit of teenagers with drape jackets and ducktail pompadour hairstyles.
The dialogue around gender non-conformity is often peppered with hostility. Michele approaches this potentially tense subject with a gentleness, and warmth, and even a bit of silliness. A pink sweater embroidered with a cabbage reads “mon petit chou.” It’s a French phrase for “my little sweetie” (chou is short for chou a la creme, or cream puff.) The funny thing is that chou also literally means cabbage. So the irony of this term of endearment is a perfect illustration for a collection that celebrates “That Awkward Phase.”