“Relax,” said the voice as the lights went down in the very pink Gucci show space. “Close your eyes.” Those could be dangerous instructions to a group of people who just flew in from London last night. The lights slowly came back up and a pink haze filled the already pink room. The music was ethereal as though in a dream. Not a nightmare, actually, but one of those dreams that make you wonder if maybe the sushi you had for dinner last night wasn’t exactly fresh. As fashion shows go, this was a strange experience.
“Magic Lanterns” is the name of this spring/summer collection. The whole concept is that the clothes tell a story, though not exactly in the way we might be accustomed to having a story told. The show’s notes read:
The narrative principle is non-linear; it is made of ruptures, digs,leaps, cross-references and unpredictable connections. An archipelagic and metamorphic approach in which the thought overflows undisciplined and doesn’t follow in the wake of tradition. It’s an intentionally unsystematic thought, therefore alive.
Those who were seated where they could actually see through the smoke and haze (several complained that they couldn’t), saw models who looked as though perhaps they had been hypnotized or maybe they were sleep walking. They wore things such “intricate intarsia with scripts,” which looked like a white fur coat with red lettering. prints of Jayde Fish illustrations glittering on metallic fabric, and oversized printed satin. Glasses frames were large and jeweled. Platform shoes were also large and jeweled. Gowns were filled with absolutely amazing embroidery while others had some of the largest tiers of ruffles I’ve ever seen.
Not since the early 1970s have I been so tempted to ask what drugs someone was on when creating something so very unconventional. Alessandro Michele had already set himself apart as an especially gifted designer. Where he takes this collection, though, is so dramatically different that many who saw it are still not entirely sure what they saw. On one hand, there were stirrup pants. Frightening, isn’t it? There were hairstyles that I’m sure pop singer Sia would embrace. Rainbow fringed coats so large that perhaps there’s a unicorn hiding inside. There’s an embossed bustier, which did not look all that comfortable, over an embroidered tulle gown.
Topping everything off is a soundtrack that apparently is not (yet) commercially available: Florence Welch reading William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” set to very hypnotic music by Steve Mackey. The combination of music and smoke and glittery metallics and all that pink amounted to sensory overload. Coming out of the show space into bright sunlight was hard on the eyes and on the mind. Either we all need more coffee or a long nap before we continue.
If you’re a Gucci fan, you’re going to love this collection. If you’re not, you’re going to wonder if Michele has lost his mind. I think, when the pink smoke clears, we’ll see this as one of Gucci’s most profound collections. Prepare your senses now.