Concierges at hotels all over Paris this weekend have been bemused by the invitation to Gucci’s catwalk show – a clear plastic pouch of assorted spring bulbs. But then Gucci has become a fashion week hot ticket through designer Alessandro Michele’s wicked skill at confusing people.

The venue, a disused theatre with a shady past as a hedonistic 1980s nightclub, was not what guests might have expected from the first Paris fashion show by the most powerful brand of the moment.



One of the male model on the catwalk for Gucci. Photograph: WWD/REX/Shutterstock

At a rambling post-show press conference that was very much part of the evening’s theatre, Michele answered a question about the bulbs deadpan: “If you plant them, they will turn into flowers”. Of the venue, he said, “I mean, I wanted to do a show in Paris, but I didn’t want to do it somewhere like the Louvre”, with just a hint of sardonic eye-roll at the notion of staging a show in a venue so hilariously unimaginative.

Gucci’s arch rival Louis Vuitton will stage its show in the Louvre next week, as it does each season.

Eighty-four models weaved through the theatre one by one toward the stage, where they slowly formed a technicolour cast, floodlit as if about to take a bow. Halfway through the show, a guest who had been keeping a low profile in a black trouser suit and with her gaze towards her lap, leapt from her three-down-from-Anna-Wintour seat and began to sing; it was Jane Birkin, who serenaded the crowd with her song Baby Alone in Babylone.

“Her presence was the presence of a poet,” sighed Michele after the show. She was namechecked in Michele’s show notes along with Mickey Mouse, handbag muse for the season – quite a sober reference, when you consider that last season’s models carried rubberised baby dinosaurs – and Dolly Parton.

A model on the runway.



A model on the runway. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Gucci

Michele collects portraits and says: “The head and shoulders are the most interesting part to look at, for me.” His catwalks are crowded with turbans and sunglasses, earrings and frilled collars, chest-height slogans and embellished shoulders.

The model line-up mixed men in with women, none in disguise or drag yet all dressed with so little adherence to style rules – to who wears pink froth for evening and who a jacket, who has long hair or a Stetson or a rainbow of sequins – that it seems irrelevant. Which, presumably, is the point.


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