Gucci’s in the green thanks to Alessandro Michele’s new era – but what can we learn from other creative rebels shaking up established houses?
Thanks to the creative direction of newcomer Alessandro Michele earlier this year, Italian fashion heavyweight Gucci has undergone a 360, swapping its sex appeal for bohemianism. Like Tom Ford’s monumental Gucci revamp for AW95, it’s been a great success, but Michele is not alone when it comes to playing with the rules. We chart how other designers have made their mark on fashion houses – so, to the person about to take the reins at Balenciaga, take note...
GET IN TOUCH WITH THE NEXT GENERATION
Taking over a house now is very different to ten or fifteen years ago. Thanks to the rapid rise of the internet and social media, shows won’t just be seen by a select few lucky ticket holders and appear later on the pages of magazines, meaning that you need to connect with an audience online too. Olivier Rousteing’s work at Balmain is a key example – breaking down walls with every selfie, he’s connecting to the next generation of fashion fans previously ignored by the industry. “My Instagram is full of young people who go, ‘I want to have your career,’” he told us last year. “I want to spread this message of believing in yourself.”
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE YOUR MARK
When Jeremy Scott made his debut at Moschino, he did not hold back. Channeling American culture (and supermarket) staples like McDonald’s, Hersey’s chocolate and rainbow breakfast cereals, the designer created a hyperreal blend of consumption and appropriation, with products available to buy straight from the runway. His Happy Meal handbags weren’t to every critic’s taste though, but it’s hard to think Scott was that bothered: his collection went down a treat with customers, who boosted Moschino’s sales by 7%. The lesson here? Go hard or go home, and don’t try and be someone you’re not.
BRING NEW LIFE TO HOUSE CODES
No one really knew what to expect back at Gucci’s AW15 menswear show, when the word went around that the collection about to be shown was not by Frida Giannini but created by an in house team – of which future creative director Alessandro Michele was the lead – in a matter of days. Featuring soft pussy-bow blouses, androgynous models and a strong air of bohemianism, it was certainly a step in the new direction, but came dotted with elements that nodded towards the house’s roots (horse-bit details, that green and red stripe, the GG pattern and bumblebee motifs). A complete departure yes, but a respectful one (and one that’s seen a 4.9% rise in sales).
DON’T STOP AT THE CATWALK
Your vision needs to be all encompassing – stretching not just to shows and campaign and lookbook imagery but to the gang that surrounds the brand, the music models will walk to, side projects and even exhibitions. With his band of model muses, celebrity campaign stars (all shot by him, of course) and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent is the master of this kind of multitasking (he even changed the brand’s name, after all).