Some strange alchemy is going on behind the scenes at Gucci. In his debut womenswear collection for the ailing label, Alessandro Michele appears to have figured out how to reverse the ageing process. After the yachting holiday of last season - the last season under the direction of Frida Giannini - with its bold bag straps, waves of soft suede and old-money young mother outfits, Michele has called for a not-so-subtle revolution. Here instead were studious, political daughters; fed up of beach holidays they favoured berets, loose rumpled bows wrapped loose around their necks and oversized military jackets. If last season was some ecstatic notion of the perfect billionaire’s wife, this season's girl was more likely to be wed to a good book – serene models with ruffled hair and fingers covered in rings could almost have been emerging, slightly dazed, from an all night session at the library. Whether or not you’re an avid follower of fashion this new look for Gucci is very far from what you might expect from a label favoured by the kind of clientele who think a monogrammed visor is subtle. More exciting is how just last season Frida Giannini poured everything in to making the Gucci strap covetable again and Michele has now produced a collection celebrating the type of young woman who’d probably rather go naked than wear one of those ubiquitous bags.
There were questions of gender at play here, dresses so soft and romantic they almost resembled sleepwear were sent down the runway with flat shoes and slept on, golden hair, while silk shirts and trousers were tough and masculine. By relying on aesthetic and styling more than it-pieces and classic Gucci logo-mania Michele asserts that these are clothes for creative, whimsical dressing. That’s not to say they won’t sell, it will just be to a different buyer than before - which is smart given that Gucci sales have been dropping; a new shopper is essential. Here is a collection that has breathed vigour and energy into an often self-absorbed Milan – bravo Michele, the revolutionary Gucci woman is something of a revelation.