ML - Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue - 2017 - Issue 4 - Fall - LauraLinney

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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a source of luxury accessories. Under designer Tom Ford— who joined the company as creative director in 1990, initially overseeing women's clothing design and gradually transition- ing into a larger, more unisex design role—the brand began to focus as much on clothing for women and men as on accesso- ries. Ford's pieces were distinguished by an overt, ultraconfident sexiness. "He gets there and injects an almost American, Halston-like DNA into Gucci, and there's this spec- tacular revival," says Silver. The brand became highly fashionable again, with memorable pieces like extra-trim women's tuxedos, cut in velvet and designed to be worn with- out a shirt underneath, a look still emblematic of the period. Ford stayed at the house (ultimately also overseeing design at Yves Saint Laurent, which shares ownership with Gucci) until 2004, when he left, along with Gucci Group CEO Domenico De Sole, a key champion of both Ford and the brand. The designs of his successor, Frida Giannini, lacked the assertive oomph that had become a component of Gucci's appeal. "The clothes lost a bit of their sensuality," says Ken Alessandro Michele's touch reaches from fashion to fragrance with another striking creation for fall: Gucci Bloom (100ml for $124), a confident and complex floral scent that reinvigorates the house's storied fragrance heritage. Jasmine, one of Bloom's most prominent notes, is com- plemented by rarer aromas, like that of the flower of the Rangoon creeper, which has never before been used in a perfume. Grown in southern India, the blossom opens at dusk, gradually deepening in color from white to pink to a deep red. Gucci Bloom similarly evolves as you wear it, from an initial floral scent to a more intense, earthier tone that's especially suited to fall. The fragrance is bolder and less delicate than the brand's other women's offerings, like Eau de Gucci (which debuted in 1993 with its mix of citrus, tuberose, and lily of the valley) and Envy (a fresher, grassier fragrance introduced in 1997). Bloom is, essentially, a perfume for Michele's modern woman: feminine and beautiful but never predictable or shy. (Appropriately, actress Dakota Johnson, artist Petra Collins, and model Hari Nef are at the center of Bloom's ad campaign.) While the company introduced its first perfume, Gucci No. 1, in 1974, and has had international success in the arena ever since, it has increased its focus on fragrance over the last decade, unveiling more scents than ever before, like 2009's clean, youthful Flora and, in 2010, the bold Gucci Guilty. But Bloom is the only perfume with Michele's thorough input and imprint. To create its powerful floral blend, he worked with revered perfumer Alberto Morillas, whose résumé includes Calvin Klein's CK One and Cartier's Panthère de Cartier. The result, like most of Gucci's offerings, seems to bridge a gap, appealing as much to a sophisticated socialite who's been a Gucci fan for decades as it does to a young woman, newer to Gucci, heading out for a night on the town. Downing, fashion director at Neiman Marcus. "That Gucci guy and girl want to be noticed. They're attention- getting—they are not wallflowers, and they want clothes that have a real sexiness to them." And so early 2015 saw the installation of a new creative director, Alessandro Michele, who had quietly worked on the Gucci design team since being hired by Ford in 2002. His take on Gucci's sexiness is empowered and modern, exemplified by the fluid cut of a boldly printed dress, or the transparent fabric on an otherwise straight- forward, high-neck blouse. But the real power of Michele's designs comes from being rooted in the brand's most identifiable motifs, reworked in a quirky and confi- dent way that makes them modern but still indelible; often the designs' over-the-top impact anoints them with true statement-piece status. "There's the great love of tradition in a very audacious way, where he has taken the sensibility of heritage and love of things that feel very recognizable and he's twisted them in a way that makes them feel übercool and of-the- moment," says Downing. Case in point: Michele's reinterpretations of Gucci's popular loafers, embellished with embroidered designs or giant faux pearls and updated with a clunky high heel and—in what might well be the most copied shoe of the last few years—lined with fur and turned into a leather backless slide. "The chord that Alessandro's really struck is that there's an enormous love for the idea of Gucci," Downing adds. "That's a love that began when Tom Ford took over that fêted house decades ago, and as the house began to fall from favor, it left behind many loyalists to the Gucci brand who were truly yearning for something exceptional." The timing of Michele's promotion couldn't have been better. As Lisa Aiken, retail fashion director at Net-a-Porter, explains, "Alessandro's first collection came at a point when actually everything was a little more stripped back. We were coming off the back of what was termed 'norm- core,' so it brought back this quite romantic vision of what fashion could be. It inspired a much more emotional reac- tion." In early 2015, the first presentations of Michele's creations—a group of men's pieces that he famously whipped up in just a few days, followed by womenswear a month later—garnered raves from both the FLOWER POWER Fall/Winter 2017 Runway Standouts "ALESSANDRO DOESN'T CREATE FASHION FOR THE SAKE OF A TREND; HE CREATES COLLECTIBLES. THAT PUTS A LOT OF JOY IN THE CUSTOMER'S HEART." —ken downing

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