In the five years that I’ve been writing these fashion blogs I’ve come to the conclusion that the creative heads of these worldwide companies have daunting, or almost impossible, daily jobs. The headline you see above came from Alessandro Michele who, in January 2015, became the creative director of Gucci, the company that was founded in Florence, Italy in 1921 and currently has 500 stores worldwide.
Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci in a garden bursting with color
In Vogue magazine of May 2019 I came across a riveting interview with Michele that was done by Hamish Bowles, a prolific writer with an eye for fascinating details and a marvelous way with words. I don’t think he’s ever written a boring sentence in his life. I have zeroed in on this four-page piece and focused on the information that describes the effort and energy that Michele expends on a daily basis.
HOW IS GUCCI DOING?
The company enjoyed a 45% sales growth in 2017, with $7.1 billion in annual sales. It has doubled its revenue during the past four years due to its smarts/energy/ambition – AND ITS CREATIVE DIRECTOR’S singular potent aesthetic. Translation: Michele is not a shrinking violet – read on.
HOW DOES THIS CREATIVE GENIUS WORK?
Bowles writes, “In his days as a designer at Fendi and Gucci, Michele used to sketch so much that he says he now has pains in his back and neck from crouching over and drawing. Today he keeps endless lists in notebooks and works ‘on the body, draping and taking pictures. I don’t have time to sketch accurately,’ he explains, ‘because after four years I understood that I needed to concentrate on the creativity and the process: the stories that I’m telling, the collection, the show – the music, the atmosphere. I spend a lot of time working on this – I’m trying to be less obsessive,’ he adds.”
A Gucci creation that’s a marvel of color and style
“I HAVE A BEAUTIFUL, BUT DANGEROUS JOB”
Michele describes his current life this way: “It’s a beautiful job, but its dangerous because its something that can take everything from you. I can’t just be an image. I need to be here to fight every day. Sometimes people say that fashion is just a good dress, but it’s not. It’s a bigger reflection of history and social change.”
PREPARING FOR AN UPCOMING SHOW
True to form, Bowles paints a visual picture as he says, “We’re surrounded by racks and racks of prototypes, and in the 78 hours between now and the show, more will be added.” According to Michele, ‘Nothing is forgotten or rejected or not used.’ Even this embarrassment of riches is not enough for the needs of Gucci’s global empire.”
I realize that Gucci is pushing the envelope these days – but when I spotted this ad in the August 2019 issue of Vogue – I almost fell over
“I FEEL YOUNG, BUT I’M GETTING OLD”
This is how Michele describes himself – he turned 46 last November (I have news for him, that’s not old). He adds, “I’m learning a lot about music and artists and things that are very far from me. Maybe I’m like Peter Pan – the kind of person that wants to still feel themselves young.”
“I LOVE CONTEMPORARY, BUT ALSO LOOK TO THE PAST”
“You can’t ignore the past,” he says. “Look at Lady Gaga – she’s changed a million times, she’s worn everything, but in the end she wanted to be Lana Turner because those old movie stars are the divas, the goddesses of beauty and power.”
“A LOT OF THINGS HAVE CHANGED IN FOUR YEARS”
Since Michele took over the reins at Gucci a lot of things have changed. “You can’t be closed inside your studio – you have to be connected to the world. Being in charge of a brand like Gucci is really an unbelievable position in terms of responsibility.” The company has 18,000 employees.
CLICK HERE to watch a Gucci video I received via email on July 30, 2019.
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In the May 2020 issue of Smithsonian magazine I came across an intriguing article titled, “A Half-Century of Trips,” written by Ted Scheinman, (a writer and scholar based in Southern California). This features a subhead that reads, “Americans have steadily become more dedicated travelers, despite historic setbacks.”
This is the first thing I saw when perusing the 50th anniversary issue of the Smithsonian magazine for April 2020. This eye-opening 10-page article (with spectacular photos) is titled, “The Ship in the Ice” and concerns a topic we’ve all been hearing about for years, e.g., global warming.
The pandemic this year has affected all of us in many ways. Two things that stand out in my mind: people definitely need people (to paraphrase the song “People” sung by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl). The phone, email, computer, TV and all the other digital creations we use DO NOT take the place of human interaction. We all need to see and talk to each other. That said we have also learned that we can work at home very efficiently and handle our normal workload if necessary. Never commute again? I don’t think that will happen, but perhaps we’ll find a happy medium – time will tell.
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