Gucci: Alessandro Michele takes a tour of Rome for pre-fall 2020
What better than a tour of ancient, Renaissance, rationalist and even faintly decrepit Rome, in an inspiring series of photographs shot by Bruce Gilden of the Roman-born designer’s pre-fall collection for Gucci.
Shot on a cloudy day in the Eternal City, Michele and his team wove around the banks of the Tiber for many shots, like the striking images of a gal in a yellow, G-link leather duster, worn over elongated violet skirts and deep purple suede boot, as she posed before the racy waters at the narrows around the Isola Tiburina.
Admirers of the classic modern film La Grande Bellezza will also recognize the weed-encrusted banks of the Tiber near the Vatican, where pose more mature beauties like the actress and icon Benedetta Barzini, graceful in clinging sequined dresses in imperial Roman purple with diamanté necklines, or lime green linen caftans with faded orange lace embroidery worn, certamente, with black patent leather gloves and retro-futurist shades. By any standards, the 76-year-old Barzini is fashion nobility; Diana Vreeland had Irving Penn photograph her, and she was the cover model of the debut issue of Italian Vogue in 1965.
Extending over 56 pages in a lookbook sent to editors, the models marched underneath gloomy highway bridges or before damp tram lines, that run through the ancient walls of Rome or into its tram terminus – all wearing the
Florentine marque’s selection for next fall. The latest installment of Michele’s marriage of high-born theatrics; brainy literary sophistication; encyclopedic references and edgy glamour.
Inevitably the Colosseum makes an appearance, seen behind a youthful blonde in a floral print with Gucci written in Japanese script; or on the ever graceful Bethann Hardison, the mature model and activist attired in a soft check coat, accessorized with a floral bonnet; knit knee socks and logo loafers. Back in the 1960s, Hardison broke the racial barriers in fashion to work in Allure and Vogue; going on to appear in the legendary 1973 Battle of Versailles where American designers squared off against French notables.
Many of the eclectic cast stare back at the viewer, standing before the city’s oldest bridge – Ponte Rotto. A mere two columns still exist of this truly ancient structure built in the 2nd century BC, and somehow still standing in the rush waters of the Tiber.
Michele even takes his cast to Corso di Francia, the monumental Mussolini-era bridge that leads to the Stadio Olimpico, where the 1960 Rome Olympics were staged.
In one of the film’s famous monologues its protagonist Jep Gambardella intones: “When I came to Rome at the age of 26, I fell pretty swiftly, almost without realizing it, into what might be defined as the whirl of the high life. But I didn’t just want to live the high life. I wanted to become its king.”
Something, which Michele, at the very least in fashion, has accomplished.
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