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Alessandro Michele's sidereal fantasies with Gucci Cosmogonie

Last night, under a sky of stars, the brand's latest show was staged

Alessandro Michele's sidereal fantasies with Gucci Cosmogonie Last night, under a sky of stars, the brand's latest show was staged

A Castel del Monte covered in stars and comets, under a full moon that illuminated the Apulian countryside, was the backdrop for the Gucci Cosmogonie show, Gucci's SS23 collection, on whose front row sat an unspecified number of stars, from Lana del Rey to Maneskin, via Mark Ronson and Alessandro Borghi. The collection's invitation, which included a drawing of the phases of the moon and a certificate of adoption of a star, hinted at an astronomical or esoteric theme. Instead, the show notes used the meaning of the word "constellation" in the semiotic sense of the term - that is, that of connecting in a single coherent design points only seemingly separate from each other. On this theme the discourse of the show notes built, which retrieved the story of the suicidal philosopher Walter Benjamin and Hanna Arendt, creating a parallelism between the former and Alexander Michael - both «pearl fishers», both eclectic citationists, compilers of references that, put all together, create a world. And so was the collection, which, far from tying itself to the medieval theme of the location or the astronomical theme of the starry sky, instead exploited Castel del Monte's dreamlike set, dramatic smokescreens, lights and sounds to create a kind of surreal carousel in which appeared visions of fantastical creatures, the imaginary cast of an epic play or, as the show notes put it, «unprecedented configurations of reality capable of breaking the constraints of traditions».

Scrolling through the looks gives an idea of this sampling of romantic characters: princesses in long skirts, noblewomen in ermine capes, Elizabethan harlequins, hippies dressed in sparkling jeans, one model had a black dress that paid homage to 1950s horror icons like Morticia Addams and Vampira, another wore a costume somewhere between Greece and the Ottoman Empire, there were 1950s starlets in long mermaid skirts, naked girls under a veil who looked like Botticelli's Venus, references to Cruella DeVil, to the movie costumes of classic noir - one look specifically, the 29th, paired a 1920s-style dress with a Byzantine-style crown with pendants that was curiously similar to the headdress of Constance of Aragon, the wife of Frederick II who built Castel del Monte of all places, and which is now preserved in Palermo.

There were also references that translated the visual/discursive theme of the constellation into more literal terms, covering jackets, suits and jeans in crystalline embroidery and sparkling sequins culminating with the twentieth look, which included a coat with ECOfur hems on which the constellations were embroidered in crystals. Another, the seventy-second, turned crystals into large plaques decorating a shimmering gold suit that seemed to reference French tweed suits as much as a barbaric Lombard costume. Quotations aside, it was precisely in this show more than in others that the layering of quotations and references that inspired Michele emerged evident and unblemished - quotations so disparate from one another that their union under the star of the imagination of the Roman designer whose creative process becomes ever more lucid and dreamy, ever more precise in evoking a mood (indeed, evoking multiple moods) to condense them into a fantasy that, just like the constellations that inspire the collection, evokes images and mythologies that were not there before.

It is clear, we might add, that Michele was totally comfortable working on this collection where he could indulge with his team and explore not only different locations but also spectacular staging which is then the best backdrop for the specific kind of reverie Michele specializes in. This collection, for example, just like Gucci Love Parade, possessed a broader scope, a number of looks in excess of a hundred, and something monumental about it: all signs of an imagination that is realized not only because of the collection itself, but also because of the location, the vision that inspires it, and the attunement of the many moving parts behind the "moment" of the show as the highest point of the brand's communication/expression. Talking with WWD, Michele compared fashion to «a gigantic chorus», a call to collectivity, to the various elements that, to quote the psalm, convenerunt in unum - exactly like the many different stars that make up the same constellation.