How do you top a Dior show held in the majestic stately home of Blenheim Palace, a Chanel collection showcased on the colourful streets of Cuba and a breathtaking Louis Vuitton show presented against a backdrop of the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio? With an intimate, glittering Gucci show staged in The Cloisters of one of London's most famous landmarks, Westminster Abbey. For his first Gucci Resort show last June, Alessandro Michele closed down an entire block in Chelsea, New York and sumptuously carpeted the catwalk within an industrial warehouse for his debut cruise collection. But this afternoon, Michele and Gucci upped their game, becoming the first fashion house to stage a show in Westminster Abbey, which has previously hosted some of the most memorable events and royal occasions in British history, including coronations and the wedding of Wills and Kate in 2011. Not actually held in the church, today's over-subscribed show (we'd go so far as to say it was the hottest ticket on the fashion calendar), took place in a stone-flagged space behind the main building. Measuring 30 metres each, the four arcades of The Cloisters framed a square inner courtyard, dating from the 13th century. Featuring Gothic-style architecture, The Cloisters were once used by monks for meditation but Michele, who used to live in London and who won the International Designer Award at last year's British Fashion Awards, chose the iconic building because he's "obsessed with British culture, past and present."
Michele's choice of location actually offended some members of the church; priest and author Reverend Peter Owen-Jones told The Telegraph this week that granting a fashion brand access to the building was like “selling our soul for a pair of trousers.” However, the Dean of Westminster has championed the decision, stating that it is "a new and exciting collaboration for us." Venue disputes aside, this afternoon, fashion's finest, headed to the eagerly-awaited show at the Abbey alongside a host of celebrities including Elle Fanning, A$AP Rocky, Salma Hayek, Alexa Chung and Georgia May Jagger. Each seat was laid with a hand-embroidered green cushion adorned with Gucci snakes, flowers and cats, and once again Alessandro delivered a geek chic, vintage-inspired collection featuring both menswear and womenswear that celebrated clashing print, pattern, texture and colour, and centred on English eccentricity.
The lauded creative director took us on a romp through British fashion history, beginning with Victoriana in lace and frills, hurtling past country gardens and Manors with dressing gown coats and country florals, via the Swinging Sixties with a panelled cocktail dress shimmering like a stained glass window, past '70s punk with bleach-splattered denim, Union Jack jumpers and tartan skirts and even touched on contemporary streetwear with embellished hoodies. Models including iconic English roses Erin O'Connor and Jacquetta Wheeler wore pleated skirts, ruffles, polka dots, head scarves, boaters, intricate brocades and embroidery, making up an incredibly rich collection that both fashion editors and the ever-growing Gucci fanbase will undoubtedly fawn over as soon as it hits stores. "I love the English aesthetic; in a way I feel it is close to my own, a beautiful chaos," Michele explained of his inspiration. Though the buzz around today's show was slightly quieter than Dior's pomp and ceremony earlier this week, Michele certainly created a beautiful chaos.