Modern Jesus | Alessandro Michele

By Kelly Stavropoulou

At the helm of one of the fashion world’s most colossal brand, is a guy with a bohemian style.  When you see him, the first thing you notice is the ornate jewelry, his thick beard, and long hair, as well as the printed suits that he tends to wears often.  As of 2015, Alessandro Michele has been the creative director of Gucci and he certainly does not go unnoticed, especially with regards to his accomplishments.

After Tom Ford’s impressive and remarkable work at Gucci, towards the end of the 1990s until the early 2000’s, the Italian fashion house went through a difficult period.  When it was decided that the talented designer from Rome would take the reins, the work he had to accomplish was multi-faceted and much more difficult than his previous position as director of leather accessories at Gucci.   He had to significantly increase sales, raise the brand “shares” in the conscience of millennials, who may have considered it somewhat excessive or outdated, while retaining the premium character of the brand, in order to avoid falling into commercial traps and temporary drawbacks.  The truth is he managed to do it all.

Alessandro Michele’s aesthetics were surely different than what we were used to seeing from Gucci.  Elements such as gender fluidity, rural feel and maximalist aesthetics became part of his approach.  The fashion house was in search of a new kind of customer, which happened to be younger, less rigid and with a strong need to belong to a new stylistic tribe.  Probably created in the image and likeness of the designer, we saw nails, velvet, bulky buttons, open shirts, and prints from his beginning.  The campaign for the 2019 fall collection is indicative of Michele’s dream for a modern “symposium”.  The filming took place among the ruins of the temples at the Selinunte Archaeological Park in Sicily, which dates back to the 7th century B.C.  At this historic Ancient Greek site in Italy, friends and lovers meet to discuss philosophical and political issues, read poems, play music and dance together.   Here we find characters that range from surfers and bodybuilders to punk rockers.

One characteristic of this rather eccentric designer is his obsession with the past, which he has admitted in his interview with Vogue, and is evident in his home.  He specifically said: I am not concerned with the future, simply because it does not yet exist.  On the contrary, I am very interested in the past and the present.  My apartment is full of antiques, which I like to place in groups – somewhat like a modern installation.  However, it’s ironic that his work at Gucci is distinguished by a modern perspective, even though he clearly belongs in a different era.  The balance between connecting Gucci’s old style with modern volatility is exactly the point where Michele’s vision for the Italian fashion house reaches its peak.

 

Beyond his creative approach, which essentially revived Gucci, Michele is a story on his own.  They call him “the modern Jesus” – even though he looks a lot like Jared Leto.  He wears a series of rings, floral suits, silk bombers, and jeans, and is popular with famous personalities such as Lana del Rey, Elton John and Bjork, who are just a few of his many admirers.  Marketing wise, however, he has done quite well…

 

 

Photo by Ronan Gallagher

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