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At Gucci, a Deconstruction of Masculinity

By Bianca Husodo

 
Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

Having combated toxic masculinity through clothing that deviates from the traditional menswear ever since he debuted his first collection for Gucci, Alessandro Michele has continued to radically rewrite the codes of gender. For his latest menswear collection, the creative director harked back to that defining debut collection, further honing in on its fluidity with girlie garments worn by sexually ambiguous beings that were presumably — or at least genitally — men.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, taking his bow at the end of the show.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

At centre stage, a huge metal pendulum oscillated, mirroring that of old grandfather clocks.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

The show’s finale.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

The show’s finale.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

The show’s finale.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

A closer look at the definitive pieces of the collection: shrunken shirts and sweaters.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

Babydoll tops and childhood-reminiscent embroideries underscore a point of time in youth where the categorising of genders don’t matter.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

Backstage, before the show.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

Backstage, before the show.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

Backstage, before the show.

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Gucci Fall/Winter ’20 Men’s Collection

Backstage, before the show.

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At the beginning of 2015, when Alessandro Michele presented his inaugural collection for Gucci — the whole pussy-bowed, fur-slippered menswear shebang now talismanic to the Italian luxury house — it heralded a new era for men. His radical push for an extravagant gender-fluid way of dressing shattered the industry’s insistence on traditional masculinity. To Michele, it’s a continuous conversation. But if anything, his latest men’s collection doubly underscores his school of thoughts on the topic.

On a Tuesday evening in Milan, almost exactly five years after his bold debut, Michele’s Fall/Winter ’20 menswear show took place within a set that resembled an ancient theatre. Its stage was a sandpit surrounded by boxed wooden seating. And smack dab at the centre was a colossal metal pendulum swung, its tick-tocking sway an ominous reminder of time’s irrevocability. Yet a visit to the past was, in fact, Michele’s path into unravelling his take on masculinity’s newfound fluidity.

“It’s time to celebrate a man who is free to practice self-determination, without social constraints, without authoritarian sanctions, without suffocating stereotypes,” writes the show’s accompanying short essay on masculinity, titled “Masculine, Plural”. Waxing lyrical on Michele’s chain-breaking rebel, it describes this idealised persona further: “A man who is able to reconnect with his core of fragility, with his trembling and his tenderness... A baby man, able to do bold and playful somersaults, who wonders in amazement when the world becomes new.”

This vision took form as a cohort of lanky pretty boys who wore babydolls, powder blue princess coats and tiny pink sweaters with “MON PETIT CHOU” (directly translated from French: “my little darling”). Some had on shrunken jackets and shorts, slightly dishevelled, as if it was the first day of boarding school. Michele constructed his garments as grenades to be thrown at the hetero-orthodoxy that enshrouds young male minds with the belief that adulting means putting an end to dressing up, and in exchange, having to “man up”.

The creative director dubs the show as “an invitation to go back to childhood to learn new ways of being male.” A revisiting of the past is necessary, Michele says, “It is possible to learn things again, to use time in a different way.” It’s his proposal of turning back time, learning to unlearn.