This week in Milan, all eyes have been on Gucci, and its first show under new head Sabato de Sarno as he launches a new era at the Italian fashion house.
Brought in to oversee a shift back to a more toned down and chic approach after the beautiful chaos of former creative director Alessandro Michele, de Sarno delivered and more.
Fleshing out a process of reinvention that has been slowly unfolding since before Michele's abrupt departure in November – most noticeably marked by the quiet replacement of singer Harry Styles for actor Ryan Gosling in the campaigns – de Sarno was widely expected to delve back through the Gucci archive in search of a pared back new aesthetic.
De Sarno, who previous worked for Valentino and Prada, however, delivered something else that seemed to mix a dash of Prada and a smattering of Tom Ford-era Gucci thrown in for good measure.
What drew it all together was a rejection of the maximalism of the Michele years. Gone were the mismatched looks, platform boots and bizarre baby dragons, replaced instead with tidy pencil skirts, classic tailoring and micro dresses in white and monogram.
For those who loved Michele's theatricals, this will feel like a step in the wrong direction. However, the truth is customers had already turned their backs on his more-is-more approach even before the pandemic took hold. As the restrictions lifted and people went revenge shopping, it was for Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton – and not Gucci, effectively ending Michele's time with the house.
Now, Francois-Henri Pinault, who owns Gucci's parent company Kering, is betting on de Sarno to turn that slump around and draw customers back into the fold. With this first offering of starkly chic separates – such as coats dusted with feathers, lingerie as slip dresses, and supple double-breasted suit jackets worn with micro shorts – this just might be the right approach.
All week, de Sarno has been posting on social media that he wants people to "fall in love with Gucci again," even using the Italian word ancora (meaning again) as the show's defacto title .
This may not be the most exciting of collections – especially after the sheer creative brilliance of his predecessor – but what de Sarno delivered, he did with confidence and conviction, and that may just be the magic formula that Gucci needs.