“Catherine de’ Medici and ’70s sport.” “Renaissance biker.” “ ’80s Italian and French couture.” These words, from Lallo25, will be taken as fashion gospel after the Gucci Fall show today. At least 20,000 people know why—Lallo25 is the name on Alessandro Michele’s Instagram account, under which he’s been posting his snaps of Italian art, antiques, and antiquities since long before a wave of success carried him to the forefront of fashion influence. Weirdly, it’s only been 12 months since Michele took over as creative director of Gucci, but that’s an eon in digital moments, during which Michele’s soft, vintage-acquiring “renaissance,” as he calls it, has made him the most-copied fashion-diviner on Earth, starting with thefur-lined loafers he designed for last Fall. Now, he’s cross-referencing puffy 1980s shoulders with the bodices from 16th-century portraits, and asking New York street artist and musician Trouble Andrew to spray-paint the Gucci “G” for a print and for biker jackets.
Backstage is by far the best way to see how good Michele is. Each stand for every model looks like a mini-store in itself, with giant suede wedges and ’70s lamé disco sandals standing on shoe boxes, so you can see the serpents tooled inside the heels, the diamante-framed ’80s sunglasses, the earrings, the net-veiled hats, the velour wide-brimmed fedoras, the turbans, the ankle-length socks with the grabby graphic of the Gucci luggage-stripe around the top. And that is even before you take in the array of clothes, how he pulls from so many eras simultaneously, and just the sheer skill involved: whether it’s embroidering pearl and crystal faux necklaces onto bodices or choosing the exact tone of magenta or chrome yellow for velvet chain-strap bags that will work with the cacophony of color in the collection and yet still jump out. Michele compares what he’s doing to “Talking in more than one language—there are a lot of ‘sounds.’ It’s like going on Google, or Instagram, where you can find communities. I am obsessed with street style.”
While the runway show was long-delayed—hence the blissful leisure of spending time backstage viewing and discussing with Lallo25—the event turned out to be a jarring surprise, shown behind a scrim with a violent assault of strobing neon lights and white noise for an intro and exit. Exactly why was hard to fathom—the presentation values seemed foreign to the geeky Gucci aesthetic and more akin to those of Michele’s Kering colleague Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent than the sensitive Italian soul whose eyes we follow on Instagram. Michele really doesn’t need to try to be “cool.” He is a “warm” designer. Not “hot” like Tom Ford was at Gucci. Warm. And the more he lets people cuddle up close with that warmth, the longer it will last.