The husband and I spent the last two weeks in Italy. We did a bit of touring, a lot of eating, and some serious shopping.
I’m generally not one to buy luxury brands directly from the stores, as I prefer (and have perfected) the 85% off purchase from Barneys Warehouse. Still, acquiring uber-lux goods in Europe starts to make some sense when the euro is nearly on par with the dollar, few European price tags have been adjusted to reflect it (yet), and the tax is easily refunded at the airport. Moreover, like many other fashion-focused individuals, I’ve recently developed a bit of an obsession with Alessandro Michele’s overhaul of the Gucci brand (geek chic is my jam!). Low prices, no tax, the cheap euro, and a trip to Italy simultaneous with the Gucci renaissance…I mean, it was the perfect shopping storm.
Obviously I bought some new duds while there and, in all the excitement, wore most of them to dinner one night. I’m generally more subtle than that, but #whenincapri, right? Midway through our pasta course and to my eternal delight, one of the former editors of Vogue Italia approached our table to discuss my outfit and my take on Alessandro (Creative Director) vs. Frida Giannini (ex-Creative Director) vs. Tom Ford (ex-ex-Creative Director).
I had that conversation. With a former long-time editor of Vogue. Who wanted to talk to me because of my outfit. That happened.
I’m bragging shamelessly, I’ll admit it, but just let me have this, okay? I’m not that glossy. I adore clothes but always have messy hair, generally don’t love accessories, and although I often know what designer a person is wearing, really couldn’t care less. I’m not Vogue. I’m like…The Cut meets Dog Fancy meets Garden & Gun. Anyway, the point is that it actually got me thinking about why I’m suddenly so enamored with a brand that I wouldn’t have even considered 18 months ago.
First, I’ll start by stating that I didn’t wear a $3,000 dress at my wedding. I don’t wear $3,000 dresses anywhere – it’s just not part of my philosophy (unless they’re 85% off). So this whole Michele vs. Giannini thing is a real haut monde issue to which I would generally give very little thought.
But since Vogue* asked…
Gucci was failing and needed a change, and much like the many other designers that have been plugged into the helm of failing brands (Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent and Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, to name two), Alessandro utterly killed it. His is the first collection that – as a whole — has ever truly excited me. It’s luxury, and it belongs among the Chanels and McQueens and Célines of the world, but it’s also got this vintage vibe that makes it feel thrifted, which also makes it feel accessible. And wearable. And then there’s this whole mix-and-match element that is so incredibly foreign to many – if not most — luxury brands. It lends itself beautifully to the high-low life that I love. I think he might actually want his $2000 sweater to be worn with $10 jeans.
And even if he doesn’t, I’ll pretend that he does…like I pretend Leo DiCaprio doesn’t have dad-bod and a neck beard.
Also, I keep talking about the death of sexy and how T&A is just not fashionable anymore, but I think I got it wrong. There’s a new frontier of sexy now. It’s not gone, it’s just that intelligence is leading the way. Sexy is simply not about sex anymore. You want old sexy? It’s perfectly airbrushed and never further than the closest smartphone. But what a two-dimensional, half-naked girl doesn’t project is smarts, and if there’s one thing women want in 2016, it’s to be heard and not just seen.
Enter geek chic.
But it’s not only Michele! It’s evident in mom jeans, one-piece swimsuits, flatform sandals, the resurgence of pantsuits, wide-rimmed glasses, mismatched prints, graphic sweatshirts, and handbags that would make the ladies of Golden Girls proud. Nerds are trending!
Still, above all of this weird, practical, feminist garbage (jokes!) is the fact that the new Gucci serves as inspiration. Many of the looks from Michele’s shows can be emulated for a fraction of the price. The Gucci brand is recognizable and exclusive, but the Gucci style is kind of a timeless flea market free-for-all. And it’s awesome.
Watch and learn…
*By “Vogue” I mean an ex-Vogue Italia employee. Semantics.