By Joseph L. Garcia

THE INTERNET was abuzz with Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2020 collection, launched last week at Milan Men’s Fashion Week, and BusinessWorld had to take a look. An article from Vogue about the collection says that the brand’s look revolves around “the characteristics of masculinity through an allegorical journey in clothing back to childhood.” A giant swinging pendulum dominated the runway, which BusinessWorld takes to mean a sort of hypnotic regression to childhood. Allesando Michele’s vision of childhood seems to revolve around the following interpretations: androgyny, thrift shop and schoolboy/schoolgirl chic, plus the uncool part of the 1970s.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with distressed clothing, and this discomfort is best summarized by Muriel Barbery in a quote from the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog. A concierge character, Renee, was criticizing the shabby-chic look of one of her building’s residents: “If there is one thing I despise, it is the perverse affectation of rich people who go around dressing as if they were poor, in secondhand clothes, ill-fitting gray wool bonnets, socks full of holes, and flowered shirts under threadbare sweaters. Not only is it ugly, it is also insulting: nothing is more despicable than a rich man’s scorn for a poor man’s longing.”

Reading the quote also summarizes the grungier aspects of this collection: there were wool bonnets and flowered scarves (not shirts) under threadbare sweaters (a particularly ugly one was made with a faux badly-knit cat). Oversized shirts (one printed with the words “impatient” and “impotent” in distorted letters), baggy, ripped jeans, ugly sneakers, and drab coats were seen on the runway.

These were paired with some of the brand’s most famous bags, such as the Gucci Dionysus GG Supreme, and masculine interpretations of the Gucci Bouvier bag. Some bags were emblazoned with the words “Fake” on one side, and “Not” on the other. On one hand, it’s a middle-finger to the concept of trickle-down economics, showing that at least in fashion, trickling up is the way to go. On the other hand, you’re paying top dollar for things that look as if they’ve been rummaged out of a thrift store bin. A lot of eggs could be on a lot of faces.

Gucci’s interpretation of someone quite sleek might refer to someone who went to either an English or Swiss boarding school. There were wonderful coats in pink tweed, green, and navy; then there were suits in puce. Well and good, until the shorts started coming out of the runway.

Some of the elements are unmistakably chic: think rich velvet blazers in rich jeweled tones, and even an interpretation of this clean, innocent aesthetic in corrupt black leather. These were paired with khaki and navy shorts, loafers, knee-high socks, and what seems to be Gucci lunchboxes. It was like watching a movie about preppies in the 1980s, except the scowling models make them all look unhappy.

We’re here for the T-bar schoolgirl shoes though. As for the look with schoolgirl chic, androgynous models were pushed into dresses with prints from Liberty London (also seen in a floral bag that said “Liberty Gucci”), with one red dress with a white Peter Pan collar looking as if it had been plucked straight out of the musical Annie.

THE 1970S
Shimmering suits in raspberry. Bell-bottom pants in every color, plus the fact that they were shimmery. While the 1970s-inspired outfits had a whisper of disco, it looks like a moment of indecision (checking back on the collection’s coming-of-age theme, this might have been deliberate).

The shimmering garments were paired with the pastels and plains of suburbia, and a certain discomfort comes from the outfits from the ’70s seeming to step from a haze of television image noise.