Looking back at Alessandro Michele’s time at Gucci

Olivia Chiappelli, Arts Reporter

After seven years as creative director of the House, it was announced Nov. 23 that Alessandro Michele will be leaving Gucci. What started out as whisperings of his potential departure on Twitter was quickly confirmed by Michele himself in a statement on his Instagram — shocking the fashion world at large. 

An anonymous source told Women’s Wear Daily that “Michele was asked to initiate a strong design shift, but the designer did not meet the request,” which is honestly hard to believe given the success of his most recent “Gucci Twinsburg” collection dominated the Spring 2023 season.

What started off as a normal runway show ended up being a major statement with the lifting of a dividing curtain and the reveal that each model was one of a pair of 68 identical twins in matching outfits. The collection was inspired by Michele’s mother and her twin, who he counted as a second mother. 

“The grace of their duplicated and expanded love gave rise to my eternal fascination for the double, for things that seem to reflect themselves,” Michele said to Another Man of the collection. 

The show even opened with Marianne Faithful giving a dramatic reading of the lyrics from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s song “Identical Twins.” Who even thinks of that?

That’s what makes Michele so special: the uninhibited creativity he exhibits as he indulges in his personal eccentricities is beyond what anyone else is doing in fashion right now, and it is captivating to watch — which makes the news of his departure even more disappointing. 

Since his appointment as creative director in 2015, Michele has not only revolutionized Gucci, he has changed the fashion industry at large — specifically men’s fashion. Michele was one of the first designers to popularize the fluidity of men’s fashion, breaking boundaries and binaries and bringing an air of androgynous freedom to a historically restrictive sector of the fashion industry.

The black and white floral Gucci suit that Harry Styles wore to the 2015 American Music Awards is a perfect exemplification of just how far fashion has come thanks to Michele’s influence. At the time, the flared floral look was mocked and meme-d for its novelty and flamboyance, but is now seen as rather tame compared to the styles that men are comfortably rocking on red carpets today.

One thing I do know is that while Michele’s relationship with Gucci has come to an end, his legacy at the fashion house will be a hard one to live up to. Michele’s whimsically romantic maximalist nature is such a part of Gucci’s DNA, it is hard to imagine where his successor could go without feeling like an imitation of what once was. 

I, for one, cannot wait to see where Michele goes with his newfound freedom, but his departure does conjure up two questions: What will Harry Styles wear now, and who will Jared Leto creepily cosplay at the next Met Gala?