Gucci SS20: The New Seduction

“Fashion has a function: to let people walk through fields of possibilities . . . sacralizing every form of diversity, feeding indispensable self-determination skills.” For SS20, Gucci has held one of their most provocative shows to date.

Source: InStyle

The room flashed from red to white. Metal gates opened. Twenty-one models wearing white straitjackets emerged onto the catwalk and ventured across moving walkways. The lights cut out.

The prelude to Gucci’s Spring Summer 2020 ready-to-wear show in Milan intended to provoke. And it has certainly been successful in that. The opening served as a palette-cleanser for what came next. The brand is heading in a new artistic direction.

Creative director Alessandro Michele said at a post-show press conference,

“I’m afraid of getting bored. I always have to try something new.”

The second section of the show began after the shock of the prelude. The collection revealed a surprising relative absence of prints, in comparison to previous years. Black featured heavily. Slim tailoring harked back to the brand’s ‘70s and ‘90s eras. The attention has moved from detailing to overall silhouette.

Another provocative element was the featuring of riding crops, a clear reference to BDSM kink culture. Chokers and slip dresses also added interest and sex appeal. The pieces and fits are markedly gender-bending, with designs passing fluidly between masculinity and femininity.

Photo sources: Business of Fashion

The show notes added that fashion can,

“let people walk through fields of possibilities, giving hints and evoking openness, cultivating promises of beauty, offering testimonies and prophecies, sacralising every form of diversity, feeding indispensable self-determination skills.”

Goodbye Guccification

Source: Fashionista

The selling power of Gucci’s inherent “Gucciness” is irrefutable, with the brand going from strength to strength ever since creative director Michele’s debut in 2015.

The luxury label has become one of the most recognisable on the planet, even managing to crack the tough youth demographic with its strikingly different take on branding. Despite this, Kering reported slower-than-expected growth in July. In light of this, a shakeup is inevitable.

Titled “Orgasmique”, the collection is more refined than previous offerings. Despite the name, and explicit nods to BDSM, the pieces were in many ways more polished than what we’re used to.

It seems that the label has expanded the ways in which to express the Gucci aesthetic. Devotees now have a choice. Are you a ‘70s-style flared-jeans Gucci fan? Or are you a ‘90s gothic fan with unbridled sex appeal?

Protest on the Runway


The new style direction for the brand wasn’t the only thing causing controversy, however. Runway model Ayesha Tan-Jones made headlines at the show by raising their hands in protest on the catwalk. “Mental health is Not Fashion” was written on their palms.

In response, Michele released a statement:

“I wanted to show how society today can have the ability to confine individuality and that Gucci can be the antidote. For me, the show was the journey from conformity to freedom and creativity. Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, such straitjackets, were included in the fashion show as the most extreme version of restriction imposed by society and those who control it. These clothes were a statement for the fashion show and part of a performance.”

The brand posted on Instagram explaining its perspective on the collection, stating that “These clothes were a statement for the fashion show and will not be sold.”

View this post on Instagram

Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, normative dress, including straitjackets, were included in the #GucciSS20 fashion show as the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it. These clothes were a statement for the fashion show and will not be sold. @alessandro_michele designed these blank-styled clothes to represent how through fashion, power is exercised over life, to eliminate self-expression. This power prescribes social norms, classifying and curbing identity. The Creative Director’s antidote is seen in the Gucci Spring Summer 2020 lineup of 89 looks, he has designed a collection that conveys fashion as a way to allow people to walk through fields of possibilities, cultivate beauty, make diversity sacrosanct and celebrate the self in expression and identity. #AlessandroMichele

A post shared by Gucci (@gucci) on

Tan-Jones responded, “I want to use this opportunity to remind people that this sort of bravery, is only a simple gesture compared to the bravery that people with mental health issues show everyday.”

They added, “Many of the other Gucci models who were in the show felt just as strongly as I did about this depiction of straightjackets [sic], and without their support I would not have had the courage to walk out and peacefully protest. Some have chosen to donate a portion their fee, and I 100% of mine, to mental health charities, who are doing amazing work for people today!”

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