Having swaddled everything from Elton John to Farfetch, Coco Capitan, Chatsworth House, Buzzfeed, Dapper Dan, the saga of Dapper Dan, and even Diet Prada into his frenetic, febrile and wildly successful brand, I confess I approached Alessandro Michele’s Gucci A/W 18 show with a little trepidation. When you have swallowed the whole cultural spectrum and broken all the rules apart, what more is left to say?
But of course, the ever-dexterous Michele had the answer; A/W 18 offered a vision of a post-human future, announcing the rule of a new kind of species: the Gucci Cyborg.
'The challenge of the disciplinary power is to impose a precise identity on the subject,' the show notes began, reflecting the atmosphere of the sterile, surgical set. Large dentist-esque lights shone eerily onto empty examination beds – a clinical, totalitarian regime. The premise that identity is fluid, and defined only by the individual, is one that Michele has been exploring throughout his tenure as Creative Director. In establishing such wide parameters for his influences to roam and collide, Michele's new vision puts styling and individuality at the heart of the brand. No agenda is set, you can wear it how you want – by simply donning a belt, or going all out in a full matching suit.
Referencing Cyborg Manifesto by Donna J. Haraway as inspiration, this collection was a new proposition to the hybridity that has come to define Gucci – and beyond the brand, a new kind of millennial style. The show, which so specifically celebrated an amalgamation of heritages and identities, felt political too, given the wider cultural context of Trump, Brexit, and the rise of far-right parties across Europe.
As invites, guests were sent buzzers (with the parental advisory sign on them, also licensed by Gucci) which began to chime as they finished their countdown and announced the start of the show. Enter Apocalypse Wow! Models walking with devil horns and pet dragons; others held their own infinitely Instagrammable heads by their side, while some sported mystic third eyes. All set to an instrumental soundtrack that mixed synthesised vocals with a ferocious ticking of a clock and the occasional jarring sound of an alarm.
It was kitsch and theatrical, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Alessandro Michele. ‘What can seem atypical, anomalous, flawed to a normalising eye, acquires a new legitimacy,’ the show notes went on. Because hey, if monogrammed lunchbox bags, diamanté bras, Shenist temple hats, feathered paramount picture jumpers and bejewelled Yankees beanies have the Gucci seal of approval, then legitimise away. Stealing from cultures, religions and contemporary iconography to such an extent certainly felt like the end of the world – and the beginning of a new one. In inventing and offering a post-human era, Gucci is already selling to the future, and I bet they’re going to make a fortune.