The Alessandro Michele Effect and Geek Chic
When relatively unknown designer Alessandro Michele was hired as creative director by Gucci in the wake of Frida Giannini’s controversial departure, nobody expected the massive thunderstorm that was about to take place. There was never anything quite wrong with the old Gucci girl, she was polished, coiffeured and perfectly primped. The formula was a winning one. But it was all just a bit…….meh. Enter Fendi alum Alessandro Michele: Having worked with the house for over 14 years as both head of accessories and assistant to Giannini, he was a surprise appointment for the Kering-owned brand. A graduate of the prestigious Accademia di Costume e di Moda, the bearded Roman sent bespectacled, beret-clad queens of quirk sashaying down the runway – think Margot Tenenbaum’s aristocratic Italian cousin with a major in art history and a healthy obsession with all things chinoiserie. With kangaroo-fur lined loafers resembling Donald Trump’s toupee (have you ever seen either of them in the same room?) donned by the women and pearl-cloven footwear for the men, the Alessandro Michele Effect is eclectic, luxe and a little bit kooky. Just the way I like it.
Peacock like a Geek – The Alessandro Michele Effect
It’s hard to define my personal style; I’m a bit of a sartorial chameleon and I’ve been called everything from goth to punk to hipster to clunk. I have never been called a flesh-monger, a rapscallion or a leathern-jerkin, crystal button, knot-pated, agatering, puke stocking, caddis garter, smooth tongue Spanish pouch but I would welcome such a moniker, albeit an insult. I love colour, explosions of kaleidoscopic hues, Breton stripes and clashing patterns (praise be, then, for The Alessandro Michele Effect) but I also have a penchant for wearing all black. I’ve been known to dabble in the oversized trend but at times, I’ve downright binged on form-fitting structural shapes. I adore Domino’s pizza like any red-blooded Irish woman but I can go in for an almond milk matcha latte, kale/avocado/insert-trendy-vegetable-here-riddled nut burger like any foodie worth her salt (and yes, food can be ‘riddled’ with kale). I’m not averse to a fart joke but I enjoy a regular injection of highbrow theatre on a weekly basis. I’m a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, in a nutshell (how did I get into the nutshell? It’s a long story). On the contrary, I am quite transparent. I wear my heart on my bell sleeve, my lipstick on my Peter Pan collar and my expressions on my Worzel Gummidge-esque face (if you have ever seen me makeup-less in the mornings, you can’t but think we were separated at birth). I like Jim Carey equally in Cable Guy and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and I don’t care who knows it.
The Alessandro Michele Effect – Bespectacled Geeks are the new Sex Icons
When I first laid eyes on Alessandro Michele’s debut collection for Gucci this spring/summer, it made me question my own interpretation of ‘sexy’. As a teenager, sexy was donning knee-high boots, short mini-skirts, glitter hair mascara and a leather trench coat in a nod to my style icon at the time, Neo from The Matrix. My hair was big and so were my dreams. I was fifty shades of orange – the goal was to look toasty beige, the reality, burnt terracota. Fast forward a few years and I was cultivating faux dreads in my hair and perfecting my rock-chic image with heavy eye-liner and a lot of black. Freakscene, Sir Henry’s and the metal room at Camouflage in the Half Moon were my go-to places. If I wore pink, it was ironically. In my twenties, ironed hair and body conscious dresses were the order of the day; in fact, anything that clung within an inch of its life to my body was a winner in my eyes. My favourite footwear was a pair of knee-high boxer boots in white pleather with pink laces that I bought in the Heidelberg district of Germany. Think Garbage’s Shirley Manson meets Barbie Girl’sAqua at a hen party. And although Alessandro’s Gucci girls indulged in some sheer ‘free the nipple’ action on the runway, his braless coquette is a much more subtle kind of sexy in direct opposition to say, the overtly amped-up sexuality of Tom Ford’s designs for the brand. In a naked selfie driven world, there’s something so beautifully modern and sexy about the freedom of the new Gucci girl. It’s all about decorating the body like a work of art; ladybugs, tigers, butterflies, ants, snakes, and tropical foliage are all on the menu. It doesn’t have to be high art but it most certainly eschews the forced cartoonish aesthetic of Jeremy Scott (sorry Jeremy but I’m over it and sorry, left shark, I still love you).
Top: H&M, in store now.
Skirt: Limited edition, M&S.
Shoes: Red or Dead.
Bracelets, hairband, socks and earrings: Topshop.
Photography: Malcolm McGettigan.
Hair and makeup: Lisa Smyth of EF Creative Studios.
Styling and concept: Me.