01 GUCCI: BRIN GIN G OU TS IDE R SPIRIT TO TH E RU N WAY Few fashion success stories are as notable as that of Alessandro Michele. Gucci’s critically-acclaimed creative director first stepped into his role around 18 months ago, quickly making a lasting impression on the notoriously fickle fashion industry. His career has since gone from strength to strength: the designer courted fans by eroding the flashy glamour that previously defined the Italian brand, instead introducing his romantic, bohemian vision to the then-struggling house. This vision is amongst the most celebrated and distinctive in the landscape of today’s fashion industry, and it’s one that’s disarmingly consistent. Over the course of his tenure Michele has developed certain house codes, and they recurred throughout his recent SS17 Menswear show in the form of ’70s silhouettes, heavy embroidery and trippy paisley prints. But things are slowly changing at Gucci. In a collection of colored velvet and floral embellishment, this season’s standout piece was a tee that, to the untrained eye, appeared counterfeit. FW16 was similarly surprising, comprised of expensive handbags and leather jackets spray-painted with the word “REAL” by artist GucciGhost, who caught Michele’s eye by spraying “Gucci” onto a series of random clothing and objects. These subtle elements of subversion and rebellion were particularly pivotal in the context of an Italian house that hadn’t seen controversy since the heyday of Tom Ford, who reigned supreme with his sex-soaked aesthetic over a decade ago. The prices may still be eye-watering, but Gucci is no longer synonymous with obvious glamour. Instead, the brand is slowly cultivating a reputation as the runway champion of outsider spirit. It’s easy to pinpoint last season’s menswear show as the definitive turning point for the brand. It’s not unusual for fashion houses to stage “Snapchat takeovers” before a show to build online momentum: these coveted gigs have become a subtle way for brands to align themselves with certain characters and unofficially declare the season’s “muse.” The spirit of punk also bled into Gucci’s new marketing strategy. A “Do It Yourself” service was recently announced, allowing customers to customize pieces and stamp their own identity on the looks. It’s a bit like when you used to sew band patches onto your denim shirts and hack off the sleeves but much, much more chic – and a few grand more expensive, obviously.