Time cannot be more appropriate as I wake up to the news of Gucci opening its largest menswear-only store in Milan in June this morning. To be honest I am not an avid follower of the behemoth label - in my eyes sometimes they can get a bit too 'mainstream' for my taste and the looks are relatively ubiquitous, thanks to (un)healthy rounds of high-street knockoffs (from Zara, notably). Aside from coveting a pair of their shoes or two in the past, and scoring a pair of penny loafers two sizes too big for my feet from DMagazine in Milan, I have nothing but generally a skeptic's view on this label. However I'm ready to eat my own words ever since seeing their latest offerings up-close...
Gone are the days of Gucci being one of the too many labels churning out that clichéd heritage-bound products, often playing that tradition/craftsmanship card without really focusing on pushing the envelope a little bit further. Thankfully Frida Giannini's take on menswear for Gucci Autumn Winter 2013 is definitely an interesting one - a collection fusing the label's rich heritage and a touch of modernism...
"The Gucci man expresses his inherently free spirit with bold nonchalance. He returns to a sartorial tradition only to live it on his own terms- pairing formal and informal as he likes. This is a contemporary gentleman with a romantic soul."
Frida Giannini, Creative Director for Gucci, on the menswear A/W 103 collection.
Traditional English fabrics were used as a starting point of the collection, whereby the textile is used to construct novel fits and silhouette, oversize proportions (no more glam rock skinny fits), with elements borrowed from cavalry soldier's wardrobe. Hints from the countryside surprisingly intermix with elegant metropolitan feel. The overall relaxed silhouette is realised in the forms of an unlined, deconstructed Duke jacket to wear as as cardigan. There seems to be no shirts at all in the collection (except for the evening wear), as they are replaced by the mohair sweater and the knit polo. Suits, on the other hand, are in formal English fabrics and possess newly eased lines and refined sartorial details. The formal and sporty elements mingle in the collection as well - in this case, some jackets have an equestrian tailoring, noticeable at the back of the garments.
Color-wise the collection promises vibrant earthy tones and prints that interrupt the rigidity of blacks and greys throughout - robin's egg blue, winter white, ochre, orange, burnt red and parsley green played against the monochromes of the collection.
It goes without saying seeing a collection like this up-close it is a great time to discover minute details that inevitably go unnoticed in a runway attendee's eyes. During our session we were amazed by the diverse fabrics so luxurious to touch. There are leather biker jackets and shearling bombers with a cracklé effect (those tiny cracks you see on old leather goods). On further inspection we discovered further secret details including internal prints, detachable blanket linings, a Duffel coat with bamboo closure (Gucci's iconic material), leather jogging pants, and a military jacket with army-style buttons.
The motifs also made its way beautifully into a tuxedo as well... So far the evening wear is the most 'formal' look that we see from the collection, with the pieces made from unconventional fabrics like micro pinstriped tweed, silk jacquard, Persian lamb's wool and printed silk. To me they possess this sophisticated yet nonchalant attitude, possibly perfect for a new Gucci guy.
No one can really deny the fact that Gucci is one of the key players in the accessories industry. This time around the collection boasted a line of accessories that I suspect will be a hit among the label's lovers: croc-leathers and python play the key materials in their footwear. Staying true to Gucci's equestrian tradition, riding whips were taken as inspiration of the handles for leather and crocs travel bags. The iconic Bamboo handle once again made its way into a briefcase, oversized backpack and messenger bag. My recent obsession with backpacks might be fueled further by the one from Gucci. I might be treading on unreasonable judgment but I do hope the leather backpack from this collection is somehow magically affordable for someone like me...
Words and images by Hafidzudin Zainal