It’s been 30 years since Jean Paul Gaultier put men in skirts here in Paris, but the image of the male body in a dress is no less stigmatised in the public forum today, even if we like to think so. That’s why the moment when Michele sent out a buzz-cut boy with tattoos and tennis socks in a slinky baroque-print scarf dress and a big backpack felt momentous. In this age of gender fluidity, a man in a dress should be the most insignificant thing to us, but it still got the camera phones going like no other look in the collection. It was great. It helped to fuel Michele’s most sexually loaded collection to date, which had men in super lowcut leotards and leather and rhinestone dance belt cups – in most sinister Clockwork Orange style – and opened with a horror short film that featured a man and a woman torching their tongues with a lighter over a bidet. Must have been Monday.
GUCCI SPRING SUMMER 2019
Gucci moved its presentation to the first evening of the Paris shows to close a French trilogy that started with a pre-fall collection shot in Paris locations significant to 1968 and took out the Alyscamps cemetery in Arles for its cruise show. Alessandro Michele’s choice of venue, the fabled Le Palace nightclub and theatre in Montmartre – so gritty and dusty Gucci had to change the carpet – was a perfectly suitable choice for his underground elves. But it was the noticeable progress of Michele’s plentiful shtick and his bold styling moves that made this collection more compelling than his usual theatre.
It was in homage to Leo and Perla, who didn’t just have the best cat names ever but set Italian experimental theatre on fire with their provocative takes on Shakespeare in the 1960s. Michele’s typically indecipherable show notes came with much ado about Leo de Berardinis and Perla Peragallo, but their impact on the collection seemed to be rooted in the confrontational, the alluring and the highly sexualised. Those tendencies were an unexpected and great move on Michele’s part; more of that, please, sir. “I realised something when I was going back to my room,” he said after the curtain had closed on his theatre and bows were taken.