Editor's Pick, Style

Gucci FW24: Maximalism in a different light

Gucci FW24: Maximalism in a different light

Gucci’s maximalism is not gone; it just looks different. The Fall Winter 2024 collection comes riddled with clues that creative director Sabato De Sarno offers much more than clean aesthetics.

Gucci has never been a minimal house. Not when the City bag — abundantly monogrammed with the GG symbol and sports several gold hardware — became its first sellout item in the 1950s after Jackie Kennedy was seen carrying it. Not even when Tom Ford famously dressed Gwyneth Paltrow in a red velvet suit from his Fall Winter 1996 collection for the MTV Video Music Awards, which dove its name into complete pop culture frenzy. And especially not when Alessandro Michele had his models walk on the runway cradling replica heads of themselves within a set, resembling a hospital’s operation theatre before attempting to recreate the same theatrical gestures until his last collection for the house.

The same can be said of Sabato De Sarno, Gucci’s latest creative lead. While his debut for menswear seems to suggest a new Gucci trumped by approachable silhouettes and straightforward textile ideas, its effect is far from “minimalism”.  His proposals are, instead, radically maximalist. Perhaps just not in the way one has witnessed before. The obvious may dispel this, especially when one compares them to the most recent memory of the house — who could forget the parade on Hollywood Boulevard and its presentation of the wildest looks to exist in luxury fashion? By accessorising his looks with a scarf hanging suggestively on the male body and the choice of deep rouge on glossy bags at play, it feels wrong to call his work “minimal” for the sake of being comprehensive.

Instead, it responds to a concern grappling amongst today’s clients: having the freedom to be experimental without the pressure of succumbing (and investing) to a certain style tribe. The house previously portrayed fashion at its most extreme, where it was riddled with flamboyance. During the days of old Gucci, guests often remarked how each show was akin to attending an opera, and they would resign to their most outrageous ensembles just to fit in. Reckoned with the idea that it no longer has a place in fashion, De Sarno focuses on being adaptable, breaking looks apart for all types of scenarios and therefore allowing it to be loved by anyone — regardless of their gender, taste, mood or background.

The thing about minimalism is its fundamental belief towards crafting clothes as anything but substitutions for fun: that celebrities would opt to be minimal to disguise themselves from the headlines, as a total rejection towards any relation for pop culture, and to create an everlasting, timeless wardrobe. Yet, there are enough signs to demonstrate that the creative director intended to create clothes for the opposite effect. After all, menswear Fall Winter 2024 is a product of celebration, celebrity and the zeitgeist of being cool.

“It is a story of fabulous, diverse people,” shared De Sarno in the collection’s notes. “It’s Getty images of cool people of all ages, and it’s inclusive, as in everyone is welcomed. It’s a story of movies, of my beloved Italy, of intellectuals and travels around the world but still feeling at home wherever you are. It’s a story of music and nights out, of sweat, dancing, and singing. It’s a story of family, of kissing, lots and lots of kisses. It’s a story of everything, again, but this time expressed through joy.”

This was made clear in looks 50 through 56, which were established by the same articles of clothing but executed for different purposes. If one is heading for a sweltering, late-night party, the embellished tank top and low-rise pants of look 51 will do the trick. Look 53 — which features the crystal embellished on its coat — is look 51’s low-key cousin when the party requires a bit of conservatism. Then, it was all about tailoring. Suits, constructed over three looks, highlight an approach that honours Gucci’s core values — a luxury house loyal to craftsmanship (look 56) and imbued with sensuality (look 52) and romanticism (look 50).

That idea pierces through even in the smallest details. Creeper loafers, named the Damien, are the house’s most fundamental runway update to the men’s Horsebit loafers, and in itself a direct nod to British rebellion. But De Sarno opted to craft a final result that would make sense as both casual footwear best paired with jeans and formal shoes that would blend beneath the hem of wool-tailored pants. Furthermore, tailoring in the collection heavily involves hand-sewn construction with all exteriors hidden from the unnecessary. But it comes with a unique, heat-pressed crinkle detail that feels unnecessary, but an important detail that elevates, which is as maximalist as maximalism gets.

While there will always be a penchant for nostalgia, De Sarno seems determined to unite the house’s current and future audiences. It began with the colour red — Gucci’s new romantic emblematic hue moving forward. Red is a colour that is easily drawn from memory — the deep rouge mothers once wore on their lips, the colour of young passion and love, and the colour of the blood that flows within us. For someone who has been irreversibly inscribed to “cutting back” and “downsizing aesthetics”, splattering the strange effect of this tone throughout the brand codes — and later on clothes and accessories — signifies a demand for certain attention. One that is less hostile against being intellectual but perceives fashion as an engine for fun and individualism.

Once you are done with this story, click here to catch up with our June/July 2024 issue.