Alessandro Michele: Fashion's Modern Mastermind
Said to be ‘one of the most unexpected and consequential fashion stories of the last quarter century’, Alessandro Michele’s ascension to the post of Creative Director for Gucci has not only launched his name into household commonality, but has also redirected the label’s relevance in an era where – as Michele so eloquently and irreverently puts it – “Beauty doesn’t have limits. It doesn’t have rules.”
"In just three years, Gucci’s creative director has shifted the industry’s course, altering the way the world sees value, gender and even identity. Michele, 45, has been the creative director of Gucci since January 2015, and he’s here now on two main pieces of business. The day before our meeting, Gucci officially opened its new SoHo store, less a display of wares than a fashion habitat in which to wander and linger, a warm bath in the merry bedlam of Michele’s imagination. Unwind on a circular sofa over here, watch a film in the cinema over there, leaf through a 1985 reprint issue of Interview magazine with Madonna on the cover, maybe try on a $2,100 pair of leather boots (or maybe not). Gucci is renovating its stores around the world in this mold. They’re for shopping, of course. But they’re also for being, breathing, dreaming.
“A way to live.” [is a] phrase, that keeps coming up with Michele, and it’s a key to his transformation of Gucci from a label that had drifted far from the conversation to one at the center of it. He isn’t just selling robes, slippers, handbags, things, though he certainly wants customers to buy those, which they’ve done in numbers that have returned Gucci to peak cultural relevance and extraordinary financial success. He’s selling a sensibility: eccentric, eclectic, inclusive. And he’s doing it with every mode of communication at his disposal.
The Michele message, which never falters, is that the world of luxury is infinitely elastic, that Gucci is a palazzo with room for everybody and that the way to live is together, in harmony, in all of its overstuffed rooms.