Buckingham Palace wasn’t available, so Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele opted to present Gucci’s Cruise 2017 collection at Westminster Abbey instead.
“The idea of the show is an homage to the city, because I love English people,” says Michele. “I chose Westminster Abbey because everyone has this idea of London being cool, but for me, the history is what’s really cool. I like the idea that something that is obvious, is not. It was just a dream, like asking for Buckingham Palace, but life is a dream so why not? The past is something alive, that talks with you every day. If we put that seed in the present, something can grow.”
Coincidentally, the day of Gucci’s Cruise show, 2 June, marked the 63rd anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, and was just one day after the 49th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album, which launched on 1 June, 1967.
Phew! Talk about symbolism ─ and Michele’s collection was teeming with it. As we sat on very English needlepoint cushions embroidered with the now-familiar Michele-style Gucci motifs like snakes, bees and cats, a procession of 96 models solemnly walked out to a haunting version of Scarborough Fair, performed by Schola Cantorum, the Liturgical Choir of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.
Some quintessentially Brit style themes were obvious, like pleated tartan midi-skirts, winkle-picker shoes, deerstalker hats (no sign of Benedict Cumberbatch, alas) and of course, the Union Jack on a sweater. But Brittania chic, as envisioned by Michele, was a mad, magical Tardis through which girls and boys stepped out in 1960s Carnaby Street, 1970s punk, 1990s grunge, millennial preppie and a dash of HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s classic wardrobe. Colours, florals, graphics and truckloads of embroidery, studs and sequins punctuated the artfully layered ensembles on the models who walked down three 30m-long cloisters ─ no mean feat considering some of the shoes, such as the lace-ups with the rainbow-striped mega platforms.
Surreal? You bet. “I wanted to dive into the Gothic sea of the UK,” Michele said after the show. “England is like a box full of treasures… I love how the contemporary sits with the past. It’s all about the hidden details. Or the punk having a cup of tea.”