Appraisal Fleur Robinson
Word Count: 1982 Figure 1
Introduction Founded in Florence in 1921, Gucci is one of the worldâ€™s leading luxury fashion brands, with a renowned reputation for creativity, innovation and Italian craftsmanship. Today, current creative director Alessandro Michele has re-established the brands eccentric, decadent persona through bold prints and imagery; taking inspiration from by-gone eras - increasing Gucciâ€™s relevance amongst the contemporary fashion crowd (Open for Vintage. 2019). This appraisal will examine the trends from previous decades that have inspired the SS/18 and AW/18 Gucci collections. The recent rise in vintage fashion has arguably led to houses looking at archival collections for inspiration; charity Oxfam recently launched its vintage section online and saw sales through its website shoot up by 400% (Kasprzak, E. 2012). It is these past trends of many eras that provide great inspiration and are utilised by designer Alessandro as a foundation for current looks, skilfully reworked to appeal to modern day society. Figure 2
The AW/18 collection embodies many of Alessandro Michele’s signature designs; the vintage inspired aesthetic is enhanced through rich embroidery, head scarves and oversized sunglasses; taking influence from a plethora of past eras.
Alessandro has taken inspiration from a multitude of eras in the design of the NY Yankees coat. The overcoat mirrors the style of the 1950s full coat - adopting a swing style. The longline design of these coats was popular following WWII, particularly with women whom were pregnant during the ‘baby boom’ era; due to the oversize nature of the coat. Many coats of the 50s featured detailing such as contrast stitching and embroidery, similar to that displayed in look 16 (Vintage Dancer. 2018). The use of Mountmellick embroidery, a technique popular during the 1970s creating a 3D effect exemplifies how Alessandro has adapted the 1950s overcoat to include a plethora of influence from differing eras (V&A. 2019). This is further exemplified by the large collars incorporated in the design, resembling that of the 1920s Bertha collar. The fluted sleeve featured in Alessandro’s design, assimilates inspiration from the 1970s also, whereby the late 60s had made loose fitting, flowy clothing popular - as clothing widened, so did the sleeve. The houses collaboration with The New York Yankees is exhibited through the vintage 1906 logo embroidered featured; “the logo takes inspiration from the creative directors Yankees baseball hat” (Gucci. 2019). The incorporation of this modern-day inspiration juxtaposes the vintage feel of other elements of the garment - yet emphasises the creativity in Michaels designs in the amalgamation of influences reworked to produce an on-trend garment appealing to modern day customers.
Figure 5. 1950s Fullcoat
Figure 6. 1906 NY Yankees logo Figure 8. Queen Elizabeth I portrait. 1595.
The flower lace dress is realized in rebrodé lace, an emblem of renaissance fashion (Gucci. 2019). Beginning in the 15th century lace was laboriously handmade. Available to only the elite; the intricate pattern was regarded as an indicator of social status, favoured by royals such as Queen Elizabeth I whom adorned lace ruffs throughout her reign (Kanagy-Loux, E. 2017). The incorporation of the ruffle at the foot of the dress connotes influence from the Victorian era whereby women’s dresses were decorated with tiers and ruffles, synonymous with a greater femininity (Newland, C. 2017).
Figure 7. Lace Dress AW/18
Tiger Head Brooch
It would be nonsensical to overlook the incorporation of the Babushka headscarf within the collection and the past influences which inspire this look. It was in the 19th Century when the head scarf first became a popular fashion accessory. The bold print of the Gucci AW/18 headscarf denotes pattern inspiration of the 1920s, whereby the introduction of screen printing manufactured the experimentation of pattern and design (Berg Encyclopaedia. 2015). The fashion scarf sees its emergence in Post-World War I Europe and America whereby the modern women’s fashion aesthetic emphasised austerity, for much of the 20th century the headscarf represented a subtle means of social distinction. Following World War II, scarfs grew bolder; with many fashion houses beginning to incorporate the accessory in ready-to-wear collections. In 1961 Gucci employed illustrator Vittorio Accornero to designs scarfs for the fashion house, leading to the emergence of more graphic and geometric styles (Berg Encyclopaedia. 2015) similar to that seen in look 16. The horse print of the AW/18 scarf shows Alessandro Michael’s adaptation of this geometric style - highlighting the influence of the 1960s and inspiration taken from archival Gucci prints to produce current collections.
The Tiger head brooch takes its inspiration from the 1940 jewellery designs of Hattie Carnegie. “The roaring tiger head design is bought back from the designers archives and reworked within the Gucci narrative” (Gucci. 2019). Whilst the design of the brooch takes inspiration from the 1940s, Alessandro Michael has taken inspiration from the 1920s whereby the brooch became popular; no longer utilised for its functionality but for its decorative features (Vintage Dancer. 2019). The coloured enamelled tiger head embellished with sparkling crystals is used by Michael as a feature of the outfit and reworked from a purely functional garment to a fashion accessory.
The Babushka Headscarf
Figure 12. 1940s Hattie Carnegie Tiger brooch; taken as inspiration for the Gucci design.
Figure 11. 1950s Audrey Hepburn
Figure 13. GUCCI AW/18 Rajah Brooch.
Figure 14. 1950s Marilyn Monroe Cateye.
Figure 15. GUCCI AW/18 Sunglasses
The cat eye sunglasses are symbolic of the 1950s, whereby the frame shape is regarded as a reflection of the post war economic boom; a symbol of prosperity (Webb, A. 2018). Alessandro has reworked the classic pointed cat eye shape with the flat edge design. The cherry coloured lense pays homage to the disco era of the late 70s where lighter tinted lenses were more in style than the anonymity of dark sunglasses (DiValentino, A. 2018).
The 1960s saw the arrival of the handbag as a fashion statement, no longer used for just practicality but adding to an outfit. The ‘Tifosa bag’ connotes references to the athletic world; “the spherical body recalls the shape of a basketball” (Gucci. 2019) thus adding to the modern NY Yankees reference of the overcoat. The double ‘G’ hardware featured was introduced in 1964 exemplifying how Alessandro Michael oftentimes takes inspiration from vintage, archival Gucci designs, reworked with the modern sport inspired design (Open for vintage. 2019).
The chunky style trainer shown by Gucci takes its stylistic que from the 80s ‘Dad trainer’; featuring an oversized shape and thick sole. The extreme chunkiness and mismatching colours of Gucci’s ‘Flashtrek’ trainers have taken inspiration from what is labelled as the ‘ugly fashions’ of the 80s. Alessandro juxtaposes the functionality of the 80s sports trainer through the embellishment of the multicoloured crystal strap, revamping the trainer once branded “the epitome of uncool” (McInnis, K. 2018). Figure 17
S S/ 18
The Gucci SS/18 collection pays great homage to Elton John’s 70s style, taking inspiration from “Elton’s archive of starry ’70s glam rock stage clothes” (Mower, S. 2017). Reinvigorating the vintage, the esoteric and the dated Alessandro Michael has bought back pieces long consigned to fashion’s graveyard (Pithers, E. 2017).
The Shell Suit Incontestably, Alessandro has derived maximum inspiration from the 1970s; the Shell suit epitomises the dress code of the 70s and early 80s taking inspiration from Elton John - seen in the matching suit in figure 22. The great jogging trend of the 70s lead to the rise of the matching pants and top; considered a hybrid between athletic and hobby wear, whilst the burgeoning hip-hop scene of the 80s gave way to tracksuits utilizing an array of brighter colours and graphics as well as lighter more breathable materials. Whilst it in was the 1970s that’s this style of sportswear was introduced to Europe, due to the greater desire to be in shape (Martin, 2009 p53). It was the 80s was when the active lifestyle became prominent within fashion, through the influence of the likes of Hip Hop artists such as Run DMC (Dallabona, A. 2017). The nylon material can be regarded as a nod to the 80s, where newly developed synthetic fabrics of the 80s such as sympatex made way to the “shell suit” consisting of thinner nylon layers, more suitable for active wear and similar to that used in Alessandro’s design.
The decorative chevron motif dates back to the 1800s in Ancient Greece, where it was seen in many forms of art. Although, it is more likely that Alessandro has taken greater inspiration from the 1950s knit print of Missoni, which reached peak influence in the fashion world with the inverted V shape pattern in the 70s (Ritchie, R. 2011). “The era of 70s fashion was about freedom, a variety of colours, eclectic looks and a tendency to mix different styles” reflected by Alessandro through the juxtaposition of the ‘casual’ tracksuit and rhinestone embellishment, creating a sense of ‘sports couture’ wear. The use of these rhinestones also denotes the extravagant accessories of Elton John’s 70s stage outfits whilst also demonstrating the fine craftmanship of the house through the delicate decoration.
Figure 22. Elton John Shellsuit style, 1980s Figure 23. Princess Diana 1989.
The rise of the shell suit coincided with the power dressing movement and physical liberation of women, during the 1980s. Sportwear was soon regarded as a statement; women could exhibit their bodies and power both in the gym and during leisure time (Campo, N. 2009). The tracksuit was endorsed by women of even the highest status such as Princess Diana as seen in figure 23.
Figure 25 Figure 26. The 1970s ‘jogging craze’.
Loafers A notable element of the look is the loafers, which appear to juxtapose the casual nature of the outfit. Taking inspiration from the horsebit loafer, Alessandro references the brands individual historical trend, reworked with the incorporation of embellished detail giving the typically masculine style shoe a feminine feel. “In 1966 Gucci saw the popularity of the Penny Loafer andadapted it with a metal strap across the front” (Trepanier, D. 2015). This style shoe became popular with business men in the 1970s, becoming a wall street uniform. When adopted by women in the late 70s, the Gucci loafer maintained much of its masculine appearance with variants in heel heights. The loafer of look 52 shows an updated version of the traditional loafer style, including the slight heel adding femininity to the traditionally masculine style (Shawcross, R. 2014).
The Crossbody bag features the iconic Gucci bamboo handles, first introduced by the brand in 1947, adorned by their most converted designs, the bamboo lock detailing shows an adaptation of this favoured design. Again, showing the ways in which Alessandro obtains inspiration from previous Gucci trends. The bamboo is now regarded as a house signature style hailing from the 1940s (Open for vintage. 2019).
Crossbody Figure 28
Figure 29. The classic Penny Loafer of the 1960s.
Figure 31. 1960s ‘Mod’ style square frame sunglasses.
During the 1960s the youth-quake movement lead to the increased wearing of sunglasses by men and women in the hope of looking younger; youth was in fashion and as too was the square shape frame. Alessandro has appropriated the style of 1960s sunglasses through the square shape design whilst also incorporating inspiration from the 40s, whereby thick white acetate frames were in fashion (Molomo, K. 2018). The design also suggests a nod to the mod era of the 60s, the streamline silhouette frame imitates the minimalistic approach enhanced by the black and white colourway. The gold double G detailing however allows Alessandro to add a modern feel to the arguably dated shape. Figure 30. 1960s ‘Mod’ style square frame sunglasses.
Conclusion On reflection, it is clear that Alessandro simultaneously embodies inspiration from multiple past eras in one look. Whilst the two collections vastly differ, through the reworking and adaptation of past trends, Alessandro Is able to skillfully design garments which create contemporary trends - underpinned by Vintage inspiration. For example, the practicality of the 80s shell suit has been altered through the addition of the embellished detail, whilst the 1950s inspired overcoat of look 16 has been modernized through NY Yankees reference, yet still juxtaposed by both the 20th century embroidery and lace dress worn beneath. Both the AW/18 and SS/18 collections display the great craftmanship of Alessandro Michele whilst demonstrating the ideology that fashion certainly is a cycle of past trends.
Figure 33. Creative Director Alessandro Michele
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An appraisal of the Gucci AW18 collection shown in Milan. The Appraisal was completed as part of a Fashion in Context module, exploring the...
Published on May 1, 2019
An appraisal of the Gucci AW18 collection shown in Milan. The Appraisal was completed as part of a Fashion in Context module, exploring the...