Gucci spring/summer 2020: Gucci Orgasmique, those straitjackets, the show’s sustainability efforts, and other crucial runway details you might’ve missed
The last time a bunch of white jackets got this much press...
Wait a minute. Have white jackets commanded this level of media chatter, ever? Probably not. Not even when Hilary Clinton's white suffragette looks were covered (and sometimes, critiqued) by every publication, online and offline, that existed. But then again, the only thing the world loves more than bad news, is sensationalised bad news. Which makes Gucci –– whose opening act at the closing show of the spring/summer 2020 season involved models wearing a variety of white straitjackets in a clinical setting, one of whom staged a protest –– a victim of its own artistry.
The real deal on that hiccup, as well as the other Gucci matters that need, well, straightening out, Fashion & Beauty Editor Jolene Khor mull over now that Milan Fashion Week is in the past.
Alessandro Michele was thinking about sex, sort of
"Fashion is like an orgasm, fast and deep." Famous last words by Alessandro Michele when he briefed his team ahead of their resee appointments with press. It would be assumptive, though understandably so, to think that's the only reason why he named his collection 'Gucci Orgasmique'. After all, he sent his models down speedy travelators, where whips and leather gloves and collars often punctuated a collection that gave plenty of spotlight to skin.
But fashion is deep –– a quality not but a handful of Michele's peers are willing to explore anymore. Say what you will about Gucci, it's a house that still honours the time-old tradition of fashion many don't have the luxury to, before commercialisation became the bottom line. Michele fantasizes, he dreams with his head in the clouds and he's not coming down soon. Beyond making pretty things that sell, he approaches his collections with intellect and commands the same of his audience.
...and women's bodies, but not in the way you think
Not since the 2000s has sexy been displayed so candidly. Sure, the likes of Versace and Tom Ford have been very fond of the four-letter word. They're less lonely in their predilection these days. Gucci's first look set the tone. The model's breasts are bare, she's full frontal without the perfunctory censor bar this editor was arm-twisted to place across her chest to shield her. When fabrics aren't decidedly sheer, scoop necks are cut low, button downs undone, cleavage aplenty, especially in his lingerie-inspired pieces. We were told that Michele sees transparency as a window to femininity.
Michele's direction was not set for shock factor, and certainly not for the male gaze. In his show notes, he talks about "a form of extensive governmentality that [...] imposes behavioral rules internalized by individuals. Such powers operate through blocks and bans, prevent the free circulation of discourse" resulting in "a society that controls, confines, and regulates life."
Indeed, women's bodies are not to be policed. Ironic, yes, since we were forced to censor the aforementioned photo due to strict MDA guidelines. Exercise your Google rights on your free will, reader.
Gucci is carbon neutral, and so was the spring/summer 2020 show
Following the recent announcement on their company-wide carbon neutrality, Gucci's commitment to the environment extended to its spring/summer 2020 show. The event was organised according to ISO 20121, an international standard that defines the sustainability of an event, taking into consideration its environmental, social, and economic impacts — and was certified sustainable.
For each participant of the show (including but not limited to guests, corporate personnel, events management team, and F&B staff), Gucci will plant a tree in Milan to compensate for the carbon emissions connected to the event. A total of 2000 trees will be planted. Furthermore, materials used for the setup are recyclable; where they are not, they will be internally reused or donated to charities. The show invites, far simpler than those we have seen from past seasons, and show notes (below), are also made with FSC paper to preserve forests.
Speaking of neutrality...
Context is king, we learned this much from Gucci from the reactions it generated when 21 models out were sent out in clothing resembling straitjackets as the opening act. Those who saw the photo of model Ayesha Tan Jones's protest and judged the house for trivialising mental health and fashionising mental health patients, we understand you. We don't necessarily agree with you, but we understand you.
Context is king. A picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case, the thousand that jump out of that infamous capture doesn't tell the whole story.
From the photo, you can't tell that Alessandro Michele was commenting on larger themes of uniformity, of which straightjackets are the most severe, for they "impose conducts and paths, that prescribes thresholds of normality, that keeps under surveillance and punishes, that classifies and curbs identity chaining to it what is preconceived."
From the photo, you can't tell that the opening act was mere part of a narrative about the validity of all human lives, including those that the world deem not normal. It is a critique on biopolitics, "which is the power of life over bodies". Michele wants us to think about the fact that this is a power that "legitimises only some existences" while confining others "inside a regime of invisibility".
From the photo, you can't tell that as the models traveled the moving walkway, several phrases were played in the soundtrack including, "I'm not a standard person", "I'm not a normal person", "I don't even know what normal would be", "The plan is to be happy", "Yeah, keep dreaming about the future", "Showing myself as I am", "To learn to love yourself... and those who are not easy to love", all of which were meant to encourage open discussions about social normativity, and how freedom of the body can be governed, how it has and can be stripped, but the freedom of the mind, mental liberation and creativity, aren't so easily stifled.
Too bad Michele didn't account for the internet — and neither did we.