What do a third eye, a baby dragon and faux decapitated heads have in common? Sounds like an unlikely fashion insider joke- for further proof, check the hashtag #GucciChallenge on Instagram- but trust me when I say that this all makes sense as part of creative director Alessandro Michele’s latest F-U to the status quo at Gucci.
Going against the grain with out-of-this-world “cyborgs”, Michele questioned the idea of conformity. His Autumn/Winter ’18 show notes read: “The challenge of the disciplinary power is to impose a precise identity on the subject. This operation is carried out placing the subject inside binary fixed categories, as the normal/abnormal one, with the specific intent of classifying, controlling, and regulating the subject.” And so, Michele went beyond those categories- Hammer House of Horror prosthetics and third eyes ablazing.
In his own Dr Frankenstein-meets-fashion magpie way, Michele introduced a new proposition to beauty, because really, why blend in when you can stand out? During a time when high-gloss hair, waspy-waists, and filled-in lips have taken social media by storm, his approach couldn’t be any more pronounced. Cue Russian babushkas in New York Yankees varsity jackets, or bejewelled BDSM chains worn with striking balaclavas. Elsewhere, a violet Chantilly lace burka was paired with an even more ornate headdress, thrown in together with an oversized puffer coat, pencil skirt, and dress shirt for good measure.
Interestingly, Michele’s resistance to the norm this season stemmed from an essay written by Donna Haraway in 1984, titled ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’. In it, the American professor criticises the conventional notions of feminism, and uses the “cyborg” as a metaphor to urge feminists to move beyond limitations of traditional gender expectations.
On the runway, this was translated to disco-ready go-go boys in ’80s prom dresses, as well as Danish model Line Kjaergaard in what seemed to be an Aztec-inspired ski mask, matched with a hooded teal fur coat and ’70s tweed trousers. But on a more literal and playful sense, the ’60s feminist anime comic Viva! Volleyball‘s Chie Hosokawa made a rare appearance, specifically, on an oversized knitted sweater, worn by androgynous model Mads Teglers. Cross culture, meets cross-dressing.
Throwing everything up in the air is really what Michele always does best, but what set this season apart was the thought process that ultimately urged the viewer to diverge. Tulled trousers with glamorous body chains? Sure. A papal dress with a baby dragon in tow? Why not? In this regard, perhaps the word “freedom” could best sum up Michele’s frame of thought this Autumn/Winter ’18: the freedom to dress, imagine, and fantasise- as far as the mind takes you. Pure, unadulterated, freedom.