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Sep 21, 2016
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Gucci in the pink as Michele turns up the flamboyance

Sep 21, 2016

Alessandro Michele unveiled his most extravagantly flamboyant Gucci collection yet on Wednesday with a pink-hued spectacular on the opening day of the latest Milan fashion week.

Gucci - Spring-Summer2017 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

The Roman designer credited with reviving the fortunes of what was a flagging brand returned to the themes that have underpinned his turnaround and, it seemed, pushed each envelope a little further.

Androgynous looks were more prevalent than ever, his trademark giant glasses more jewel-encrusted than before, the platform shoes more vertiginous and shimmering with gems.

The idea, according to Michele's notes to a show entitled "Magic Lanterns," was to create a collection in which "the clothes tell a story steeped in wonder, phantasmagoria and unorthodoxy."

That meant, in practice, that the converted railway siding that hosted the show was done up with pink velvet banquettes to create an ambience somewhere between a super-kitsch 70s nightclub and a courtesan's boudoir.

Slippers with platform wedges were said to have been inspired by Venetian prostitutes, gowns were enriched with embroideries and ruffles and there were sparkly gold and purple leggings aplenty.

Gucci - Spring-Summer2017 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

Wild animals were a theme on bags and on the backs of austere tweedy jackets. Suits on the male models nearly all featured three-quarter length trousers while the bell-bottomed female versions might have been designed for a hairy-chested lothario from the early 70s.

The inspirations for hairstyles were equally eclectic - spanning a range from Mork and Mindy to Marie-Antoinette.

That eclecticism might have been what Michele was referring to in his notes when he explained that he was seeking to "cultivate the unexpected."

He certainly did that and star guests actress Dakota Johnson and the cellist Kelsey Lu looked impressed.

But the initial online reaction was not nearly as rapturous as has been the case for Michele's previous collections.

Has he gone too far this time? Gucci's French owners will not mind as long as sales keeping ticking up as they have done consistently under the designer's artistic stewardship.

Gucci - Spring-Summer2017 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

- Leather bras -

Wunderkind, the youthful branch of German designer Wolfgang Joop's empire, made its Milan debut earlier in the day with a collection featuring long summer, partially transparent dresses over leather bras and transparent plastic trenchcoats with leather collars and cuffs.

Blugirl, the sexy younger sister of designer Anna Molinari's main womenswear brand Blumarine, served up a typically irreverent, mix-and-match collection.

Bohemian romanticism was to the fore in the form of 70s-style off-the-shoulder tops with puffball sleeves.

But the look was hardened sometimes with biker boots and sharp fringes helping to create a 'rock chick' edge, while a military theme was balanced out by ultra-feminine, delicate touches including frilly neckties.

Wunderkind is one of three Milan debutants among the 71 catwalk shows scheduled between Wednesday and Monday.

Paris-based couture star Giambattista Valli has shown his own younger line, Giamba, in Milan before but Friday's show will be the first time it has been included in the official programme.

Giamba - Fall-Winter2016 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

The other newcomers are Chinese label Ricostru, the latest up-and-coming talent to benefit from the patronage of Giorgio Armani.

They will display their 2017 Spring/Summer collection at the Teatro Armani on Monday, a day which has been entirely given over to young designers in a move that has been branded something of a gamble.

Armani himself usually presents his main collection on the final day of Milan, thereby helping to delay the departure of hundreds of buyers and media for the next leg of the global fashion circuit, in Paris.

This year however the veteran designer is showing his main line on Friday and his Emporio Armani collection in Paris, generating fears the whole circus will decamp to the French capital on Sunday evening, after Dolce and Gabbana's afternoon show.

Carlo Capasa, the head of Italy's Chamber of Fashion, defended the decision. "I have a very high regard for young designers and I think it is right that we have a day just for them: the day of the future," he told reporters.

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