Gucci's Michele explores identities in rich, bold display

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Gucci dazzled fans with a presentation featuring baby dragons, snakes and models carrying replica heads in their arms in a Milan catwalk show on Wednesday that explored the concepts of creativity and identity.

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Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele framed his display -- one of the most sought after tickets in Milan’s fashion week - in a cold, sterile and claustrophobic space that replicated an operating theater.

“Our job (as creatives) is a surgical job: cutting and assembling and experimenting on the operating table,” Michele told reporters after what he said was an exhausting show.

He explained that he wanted to show that there was order, a “scientific clarity”, among all the confusion of a job like his.

The brand, the biggest in French luxury group Kering, has been revamped with a bold new style over the past two years under Michele, and recently branched into homeware.

The verve of Michele, director since January 2015, has been key to giving Gucci a strong new identity, and its bright, elaborate and geeky yet chic looks have expanded the brand’s following particularly among younger customers.

The collection, for the next fall/winter season, was rich and ornate, coherent with the kind of elaborate and layered styles Michele has been sending down catwalks in recent seasons.

His designs echoed different ethnicities, cultures and social classes, combining elements such as Sikh turbans with south American patterns, everyday work clothes with college-inspired looks. Some models wore crystal, embellished head pieces and many wore colored balaclavas.

Two young models carried a replica of their heads in their arms, representing the struggle of accepting one’s identity and “looking after your head and thoughts”, Michele said.

Like many other collections, Michele’s approach suggests the notion that people don’t necessarily have to fit into pre-defined categories and that they are free to chose who they are.

A style note said the different designs embodied Gucci’s concept of “pluriverse” and drew inspiration from Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto”, a 1984 essay rejecting the idea of rigid boundaries, particularly those separating humans from animals and from machines.

“Limiting fashion to something that only produces business is too easy,” Michele said, noting that the industry is now more engaged in social issues, with “a greater conscience”.

Kering boss Francois-Henri Pinault said earlier this month Gucci could still notch up double-digit growth this year. Comparable sales in the last quarter of 2017 at Gucci rose nearly 43 percent, beating forecasts and most industry peers. [nL8N1Q3104]

Milan Fashion week runs until Feb. 26. The Italian fashion capital will be the setting for just over 60 shows and over 90 presentations and designers like Italy’s Armani, Versace, Dolce&Gabbana will be showcasing their fall/winter collections.

Reporting by Giulia Segreti, Editing by William Maclean