Alessandro Michele outdid himself in eclecticism on Wednesday with a foxy joint men and women's collection for Gucci -- the label's first ever -- as Milan fashion week opened. Trends for the autumn-winter 2017 season? Fox and bat motifs, gold flares, nose studs and whole-body glitter suits.
The Roman designer, who performed a radical overhaul of the once-flagging brand when he took over in 2015, pushed the boundaries even further, upping the gemstone level to extreme and pitching chains and whole-head hoods. The idea, according to Michele's notes for a show entitled "The Alchemist's Garden", was to create a collection which celebrated dualisms, including "body-spirit, good-evil, inside-outside".
Gucci celebrates dualism with AW17 collection at MFW
He said he was inspired by the idea that every individual hosts "a multitude of identities, conciliatory and conflicting" and the show certainly had a whiff of the schizophrenic. Models strutted down a catwalk behind perspex walls around a pyramid topped with a cockerel weather vane, with looks evoking everything from warriors -- with gold-tipped spears -- to Grand Tour ladies with vast sun hats.
For those asking what direction the wind was blowing, the rotating cockerel said it all: every direction, everything goes. The Gucci trademark flowers were back in force -- roses, tulips, forget me nots -- while bats flitted across yellow jumpers and wolverines snarled from leggings. The austere tweedy jackets seen at Michele's spring-summer show in September were back, as were tassells -- dangling from the sleeves of a black biker jacket or off the rim of a bluebell-shaped parasol.
Flower leggings were worn under shorts, with knee-high boots and a kooky frontpack -- a backpack worn on the chest. With bags also used as the clasp of waist-high belts, coats took over as backpacks, not worn but carried hanging off straps. Hairstyles ranged from slicked-back school-marm, worn with glittering glasses, to cascading curls.
But those with bad hair days need look no further. One of Gucci's most striking pieces was a glitter whole-body suit -- think spiderman's get-up only in a metallic mesh with a jazzy, marine-green tinge. And how to accessorise? Black canes topped with white cat-head handles, fox-head rings, a glittering fox mask, or a wide studded choker linked by a chunky chain to the wrist.
Sumptuous trailing coats or princess-style ruffled evening gowns were given a "who you lookin' at" air with large nose studs. There were cheers from the front row with South Korean singer Minho, American actor Jared Leto and US rapper A$AP Rocky leading the applause. The rapper made a special appearance on the show's invitations -- a vinyl record of him reading a love letter form Jane Austen's Persuasion. (AFP)