Every artist has their muses. So does Alessandro Michele, the maestro of the campy glamour and Gucci’s Creative Director.
The era of “Michele’s Gucci” or the returning of camp started in 2015. That was the year when Michele, who previously led the accessories team for 13 years, was appointed as Gucci’s new Creative Director. His appointment marked the new era, different from his mentor and predecessor, Tom Ford. Ford’s era was known as one of the most iconic periods in the brand’s legacy. Taking over the house in 1994, when the brand was in the economic and creative crisis, Ford changed the game completely. He poured personality and a powerful sense of minimalistic sex appeal into the brand. The seduction became the brand’s signature trait. One of Ford’s muses, Kate Moss, the ultimate icon of the 90s, exuded that signature minimalist sex appeal that represented Gucci’s aura. Seeing her catwalking in a revealing black dress, sprayed with water for the extra sex appeal was enough to understand Ford’s philosophy.
When Michele arrived, he started a revolution that no one quite foresaw. Hired by Ford in 2002, Michele had been developing his unique vision of vintage maximalism and eventually raised to the helm of Gucci as its new leader. He introduced completely new aesthetics, one that prided camp and avant-garde over all else. Michele’s era reimagined the concept of gendered dressing at a luxury house celebrating the freedom of self-expression without conforming to the overwhelming notions of femininity or masculinity.
Under Michele’s helm, Gucci shows turned into spectacles of androgynous chic and out-of-this-world dragon heads instead of accessories. Michele looked to the past for inspiration grounding his designs in ‘70s and ‘60s-style looks that conversely brought a sense of modernism to the house as favored by young Millennials and Gen Zers. A stark contrast from Michele’s start in 2015, Gucci slowly became one of the first luxury fashion houses that rebranded the entirety of its aesthetics, setting a prescient for other established houses to follow in their footsteps.
Michele began developing friendships with people that had an exceptional sense of personal style. The maestro had ultimately found his inspiration in contemporary icons of the current generation, who took part in new collection and perfume campaigns and represented the brand at the big red carpet events. But being a Gucci muse is sometimes more than just being its poster person. What started as simple collaborations quickly grew into friendship and muse-t0-artist companionship, which resulted in many memorable looks and style evolutions we are lucky to witness.
When Michele started blowing minds with his first collections as a creative director, the icon of numerous Gen Z youngsters around the world, Harry Styles, was still a part of the popular British Boys band, One Direction. While Harry Styles now wears Gucci on most red carpets, the musician was first seen wearing Gucci in the American Music Awards in 2015, sporting the house’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection. Michele befriended Styled when he dressed him up in that eye-catching floral suit that stole the show. That outfit seemingly marked the breaking point for Styles, as he left the band soon after and raised as the solo artist and the Gucci ambassador. The floral suit has then become Styles’ favorite look, as he proceeded to wear different variations of the item on different occasions throughout recent years, as he started his career as a solo artist.
In 2018, Styles broke the Internet with the Gucci Cruise 2019 campaign. That was also the very moment he became Gucci’s official muse. Set in the picturesque British countryside and photographed by Glen Luchford, the campaign featured Styles in classical retro-inspired three-piece tailored suits mixed with bolder items like tiger print poncho or distressed sneakers. The mixture of classical elegance and contemporary street fashion was something that defined Michele’s approach to the brand’s new start.
After becoming Michele’s ultimate muse, Styles’ fashion journey has reached its peak moment. His style has become distinct and recognizable in its flamboyancy, never predictable glamour. Styles has also become one of the contemporary pop culture figures to challenge traditional notions of masculinity and push the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable for menswear. His 2019 MET Gala look, featuring a transparent blouse with a big bow tie and patent-tethered heeled shoes was one of the most memorable at the event.
When it comes to modern extravagance, Billie Eilish’s style is definitely one of the most discussed in the fashion scene. Eilish has become a trend-setter of the current generation incorporating today’s fashions like monochrome, logomania, excessive crystals, dark shades, and acid wash hair in an interesting and refreshing manner. Perhaps, her incredible popularity with the younger generation is what makes her an appealing figure to represent luxury brands, who want to reach new consumer groups.
Something that makes Eilish so popular and relatable to adolescents around the world is her free spirit and independence – from society and its toxic boundaries. Her distinct style – the monochromatic logomania, baggy silhouettes, excessive details and bright hair color has often been perceived as bold and excessive. Though, perhaps, that strong personality in her style is exactly what clicked with Michele. Though she was somewhat different from the vintage Italian nostalgia that Michele likes to come back to, Eilish’s aesthetics matched the mood that Gucci aimed to create. The brand stepped in to harness her aesthetics, making her into one of its ambassadors and muses.
Eilish’s extraordinary style has prompted many judgmental commentaries about her and the notions of female style decorum. Some people blamed her for lack of femininity, others praised her for not wearing something that would be deemed too revealing. Eilish sees style as something anyone can experiment with and encourages men and women to be comfortable with their bodies and clothes, whatever they wear.
“I have always supported and f*cked with and just loved when a woman or a man or anyone in the world feels comfortable in their skin, their body, to show just whatever they want,” Eilish said in an interview. “I don’t like that there’s this weird new world of supporting me by shaming people that [may not] want to [dress like me].”
One of the reasons why Michele has chosen Eilish as one of his muses is the freedom and courage to experiment with clothes, whatever anyone says. One of the recent Eilish looks at the 2021 Grammy’s captures all Gucci’s artistic essence in one look, made so personalized for Eilish and her personality.
The Hollywood actor has become a prized celebrity of the current generation. As frontman of his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, he has “raised” a whole generation of fans. Whether it’s spreading the message of love and spiritual growth in his music or sharing the stories of inspiration at meet-and-greet sessions – as an artist, Leto has influenced many. Others, who might not have decorated their wardrobe doors with 30 Seconds To Mars posters in the early 2000s, know him as an Oscar-winning actor and remembering some off-beat characters that he played, such as Mark David Chapman in The Killing of John Lennon (2006) or the Joker in Suicide Squad (2018).
Besides all his influence in the film and music industries, Leto is also known as a true fashion icon. While he has always nailed contemporary trends well, the true height of his fashion journey was marked by his collaboration with Michele. The companionship between the rockstar and the maestro has birthed many iconic fashion moments we all were lucky to witness. From the campy glam seated front row at Fashion Week to casual yet head-turning supermarket outings, Leto was wearing Gucci’s new looks like he was born for it, becoming the true guru of Gucci’s philosophy.
At the Met Gala, Leto has tried many Gucci outfits – a total white suit like a Hollywood dandy and flashing the opulent gold crown alongside Michele and musician Del Rey at the Catholic-themed ball. At the 2019 camp-themed Met Gala, however, Leto and Michele have created one of the most show-stopping moment. Leto appeared in a red satin gown with a jewel-encrusted body chain and brought a wax copy of his own head as an accessory. The move left the crowd delighted, as everyone from the Kardashians to Jeff Bezos came to give Leto’s head a pat or a kiss. Human head accessory had become a hint to the now-famous 2018 Gucci Fall/Winter show, when models walked the catwalk holding human heads, baby dragons, and iguanas. For Michele, that particular Gala was a perfect moment to establish his mark as a camp icon and steal the show with the perfect Gucci moment we all will remember.
Leto’s Gucci outings were not limited to red carpet events. His tours with 30 Seconds to Mars is a whole different chapter in his style book. Replacing his leather jacket and worn-out jeans from his alternative rock era with a bright tiger print poncho and sparkly metallic pants, Leto redefined the cliches of what a rockstar should look like.
Back in the ’70s, the British invasion brought the culture of rough masculinity into the rock music scene. A leather jacket, a white T-Shirt, and leather pants became the ultimate uniform for any rock band musician. When Michele styled a whole series of new performance looks for Leto’s tours with 30 Seconds to Mars, the narrative changed.
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey presents her style as if plucked from the golden age of old Hollywood. Her musky voice, that very ’60s haircut and languorous eyes – Del Rey has become a perfect muse for Gucci’s retro-inspired campaigns. For years she has been featured in Gucci’s Guilty perfume commercials alongside Jared Leto. The series of the perfume is conceptualized around the idea of “Hollyweird” that brings back the nostalgia for the iconic Hollywood aesthetics and places it in the realms of Gucci’s signature style.
Del Rey also appeared in the most recent 2019 perfume relaunch, Forever Guilty, set in Los Angeles. The campaign, featuring a time-lapse to the ’60s, shows a couple strolling the supermarket and dining at an American diner, occasionally stumbling upon exotic animals and dancing.
K-Pop star’s popularity has long expanded past the East Asia region and conquered hearts all over the world. The beautiful boys with immaculate skin and hair and simple yet elegant style can truly be called modern pop icons and even sex symbols.
A member of Exo boyband, Kai, has become one of Gucci’s muses in 2019, when he became the brand’s global ambassador. Most recently, Kai and Michele have collaborated on the new Kai x Gucci collection that is coming out this April. Ready-to-wear looks feature teddy bear prints across the items and the Gucci monogram. Kai x Gucci collection marks the first time the brand has collaborated on a collection with a Korean artist.