What is luxury fashion if not the promise of a dream? A life made more beautiful, fantastical? No contemporary designer since perhaps John Galliano has harnessed this so ebulliently as Gucci’s artistic director Alessandro Michele. The man can do no wrong; Gucci continues to post billion dollar profits and forecasts suggest the fortunes of the company are indeed rosy. What is it exactly that is driven the fashion cognoscenti’s obsession with @lallo25’s unique aesthetic? It is surely so much more than just the frisson of the new; of course, this is part of the novelty, but it is so much more than that. Mr Michele’s unique ability to blend art history, antiquities, Victorian detailing, 1970s flourishes, Brittanica and Napoleonic imagery with the romance of Gucci’s rich design archive to create something familiar, eccentric and utterly startling at the same time has realised real economic returns for the company. His totality of vision is staggering in its depth of detail; I daresay he is an artist.
Mr Michele has harnessed desire in a handbag, elevating the hydrangea from a frowsy flower to cult status, while paying homage to Gucci’s famous flora tradition. Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri’s ‘captain’s pick’ after the departure of Frida Giannini has emerged as one of the most successful calculated risks in fashion history; once unknown, his is now the name to know. This new version of Gucci, a legendary brand, speaks to the contemporary desire for authenticity and the artisanal. In terms of luxury, Mr Michele’s Gucci embeds couture elements such as embroidery and embellishment across the range of luxury items elevating the most humble of objects; a wallet imbued with birds and flowers becomes an art object. The Gucci pre-fall 2016 collection offers the idea of the bespoke within the readymade.
Australian consumers have a new altar now at which to worship Gucci. The newly opened Pacific Fair store on the Gold Coast in Queensland, part of the almost half a billion AMP Capital renovation of the shopping centre, adopts the new aesthetic outlined by Mr Michele. Dedicated to accessories for men and women, it is stamped with the designer’s unique approach. The flooring boasts marble inlay that evokes Italian churches, the wallpaper is a blue grey velvet quilted like a chaise in a boudoir. The display cases are trunks such as in a dressing room, opened to reveal treasures in the form of scarves and jewellery. Chartreuse velvet chairs and malachite marble tables sit atop overlaid Turkish rugs, the overall effect of which is the private studio of a bohemian artist. One feels this may echo Mr Michele’s own working space.
The Gold Coast is several worlds away from Gucci’s Florentine home, but Pacific Fair is shaping up to be the Australian luxury destination, with brands such as Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Harrolds, Coach, Givenchy, Max Mara and Tiffany and Co. all opening major stores. The adjacent Conrad Jupiters casino and hotel has also undergone a million dollar renovation, which will assure a constant stream of interstate and international visitors. Located in one of the country’s most enduring holiday destinations, the combination of luxury and leisure is an irresistible one. We can only hope the store expands to accommodate ready-to-wear.