As the main event on the Milan Fashion Week schedule, if not the most highly anticipated show of all of fashion month, Gucci quite literally had attendees counting down until this afternoon's show. The invite came in the form of an orange timer, sealed inside a plastic bag, with red digital numbers counting down to today's spectacle. On the front of the timer, a sticker read: “Parental Advisory, Explicit Content.”
Held in the brand's Milan Hub, the show space was transformed into a surgeon's operating room replete with PVC flooring, stark white LED lamps and hospital waiting room chairs surrounding an eerie operating table. "The concept reflects the work of a designer – the act of cutting, splicing and reconstructing materials and fabrics to create a new personality and identity with them," the brand shared on Instagram.
Seated in the front row of the hospital waiting room chairs were Nick Cave, Susie Bick and their son Earl Cave, joined by The End of the F***ing World stars Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther, Donatella Versace, Chloë Sevigny, Rowan Blanchard, Edward Enninful and Anna Wintour.
An essay written by Donna Haraway in 1984, entitled "A Cyborg Manifesto" served as the main source of inspiration for creative director Alessandro Michele's AW18 collection. In this essay, Haraway refutes the idea of strict categories, particularly those distinguishing between humans, animals and machines.
Hybrids, splicing, dualism and this nebulous line between man and animal, male and female, and man and machine were at the centre of the 90-look collection, which featured both menswear and womenswear. Some models emerged carrying frighteningly realistic replicas of their own heads while others held a snake, cradled a chameleon or even carried a baby dragon, inspired by the "legend of the baby dragon in the jar", the real story of an author who staged finding a baby dragon in his garage in Oxfordshire, England.
A speedy procession of 90 models stepped out into the doctor's theatre, to a soundtrack of classical music punctuated with the sound of beeping monitors and footsteps on clinical flooring. The vast collection incorporated many of Alessandro Michele's house signatures. His geek chic, vintage-inspired aesthetic was enhanced with rich embroidery, dresses were coated with sequins and feathers, headscarves were printed with horses, while bags were detailed with tiger heads. There was much tailoring, including a coat that had been "spliced" and cultural references were as diverse as the fabrications used, from velvet to fur and just about everything in between.
A knitted balaclava inspired by a vintage ski knit was topped with a jacquard turban, and worn with a dark gold lurex jacket and geometric beads. Accessories were also inspired by Asian architecture, such as an intricate hat in the shape of a pagoda. The collection included New York Yankees references, too, with the logo featuring on jackets, cardigans and caps. There were also trainers crisscrossed with crystals, sequinned jackets, frothy organza and lace gowns, vivid prints and metallic fringing. Michele's maximalism shows no sign of dialling down and, based on the rapturous applause from celebrities and editors alike, the creative director will continue to reign supreme for yet another season.