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Gucci AW19 MFW Milan Fashion Week Alessandro Michele
Backstage at Gucci AW19Photography Giacomo Cabrini

Gucci sent kinky leather masks and weeping models down the runway in Milan

Alessandro Michele explored the interplay between our true selves and the persona we project on the world for AW19

With London Fashion Week now done and dusted for another season, we’re in Milan to see what the likes of Versace, Prada, and Fendi have in store for us for AW19 (with the latter the final collection ever worked on by Karl Lagerfeld – sob). Kicking things off, though, was Gucci’s latest presentation, which took place this afternoon. Here’s everything you need to know.

THE INVITATION WAS A MASK  

Gucci invitations are always pretty major: just take the ticking clock of AW18 that counted down the seconds, minutes, and hours to the show for example. This time around, it came in the form of a wooden box, inside which a papier-mâché mask depicting Hermaphroditus. According to Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus was the dual-sex child born to Aphrodite and Hermes and is widely regarded as a symbol of androgyny.  

THE SET WAS PRETTY STRIPPED BACK

Where Gucci sets usually pretty decadent, OTT affairs, for AW19 Alessandro Michele had stripped things back considerably with a giant circular space with a mirrored ceiling. As things got underway, though, it was clear the Italian designer was still going to be bringing the drama. First, the sounds of the jungle played throughout the space, as birds sang and lions roared, before brilliantly bright flashes of light filled the room from hundreds of bulbs embedded in the walls. Eventually, 19th century religious carol “Gabriel’s Message” kicked in as the models began to make their way onto the runway.

AW19 WAS A TINY BIT MORE SUBTLE

Ok, ‘subtle’ is really not a word you can really use to describe Michele – but where previous Gucci collections have usually been a riot of colour, texture, and embellishments, this one was much more muted when it came to the palette, with brown, grey, khaki, and camel hues prevalent throughout. With the influence of the music, AW19 felt much more sombre in tone. The looks were just as eclectic as always, though, with Michele’s signature tailored pieces, eclectic, mismatched layers, and clashing prints all featuring heavily.

...AND MASKS WERE A MAIN THEME

Adding a fetishistic, almost brutal edge to the looks were the kinky leather masks and chokers lots of the models wore, many of which were studded with dramatic spikes. After the show, Michele said that he had been thinking about the image we project to the world, the people we are behind the mask, and the interplay between these personas. “I reflected on the idea of wearing a mask, because in our lives, the clothes we wear are masks,” he explained. “A mask shows and conceals at the same time.” He also went on to note that while the collars might appear aggressive, the same might not be true of the wearer: “A gentle soul might need to wear a collar or a mask to defend themselves.”

Don’t expect to get your hands on one though: according to the designer, apparently the spikes are probably a bit too dangerous. “Personally, I feel I am in the theatre,” the designer said of the fashion show experience. “I don’t want to sell everything. Some things are there to make us dream.”

THERE WERE MORE OFFBEAT ACCESSORIES  

...including some highly-covetable gold cuffs which some of the models’ entire ears, as well as more masks: this time crafted from pastel coloured rubber (which didn’t look dissimilar to your fave K-beauty face packs tbh). Also on the line-up were dramatic bronze helmets, shaggy faux fur stoles, and piles and piles of costume jewellery, while one model appeared wearing knee pads while carrying her shoes in her hand. Michele explained this was inspired by the girls who carry their trainers in their bags and change into their heels when they arrive somewhere. Some of the models also had silicone tears painted on their cheeks and under their eyes, like the tears of Christ in religious sculptures: “I always try to trigger something emotional and tears are very emotional. I think they’re very powerful,” Michele said.

MICHELE PAID TRIBUTE TO KARL LAGERFELD POST-SHOW

Having previously worked with Lagerfeld at Fendi, Michele spoke of their relationship and the way they bonded over music, after the iconic designer died yesterday. “I think he’s one of the most beautiful examples not even in fashion but in life. I really loved him,” he said. “He used to call me ‘The DJ’ because I had short hair, I was blonde, wore a lot of chains, and always had my music with me,” he explained, before saying the news of his passing hadn’t really sunk in yet. We hear you, Alessandro...