Sabato De Sarno wanted to put Gucci back in the streets — literally —showing outside at Milan’s Brera district. Forecast rain forced his runway debut indoors, but it didn’t dampen his vision.
For his debut, the designer respected the house’s heritage but charted his own course, showing the kind of short hems and leggy looks today’s young stars would wear in the streets (or at least stepping out of a black car), captured by the next gen Ron Galella perhaps.
More from WWD
He leaned into the clean, elegant daywear trend seen at Prada, among others, with 1960s-meets-1990s tailored coats, super-short shorts and cute logo rompers and jumpers, body-skimming tanks and knit sets, baggy jeans and crystal bra tops.
Judging from the celebrity pile-up backstage, it was a hit, with Kendall Jenner whispering “congratulations” before posing for a pic with De Sarno, her beau Bad Bunny close behind, and Ryan Gosling waiting patiently for the designer to pose with his parents before offering his kind words. Julia Roberts almost got crushed in the melee, and Mark Ronson (who did the music for the show) had to stretch across shoulders to shake hands and say, “Beautiful show.”
De Sarno titled the collection “Ancora,” or “again” in English.
“Ancora is a word that you use when your desire is not over yet, whether it’s a kiss or an embrace, or making love; it’s as if you own something and you want more of it,” he told WWD, adding that he wanted to “fall in love with fashion all over again — ancora.”
He pulled in the season’s starriest front row (actors are on strike, so why not take in some fashion?) including Jessica Chastain, Julia Garner, Jodie Comer, Halle Bailey, Jodie Turner-Smith and model Daria Werbowy, who posed in De Sarno’s teaser campaign posted to Instagram, wearing a black bikini bottom with a GG gold monogram on the side — and nothing else.
De Sarno’s old boss at Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli, was also there “to support,” he said. “I already know what I expect to see…and I’m very proud. He’s the best choice.”
De Sarno miniaturized the iconic Jackie and bamboo bags, elevated the Gucci loafer to a cool platform, and introduced a new house color, a deep Rosso Ancora red used on Jackie bags, leather car coats and a covetable embossed pencil skirt that looked rich. The hue was inspired by the walls of the staff elevator at The Savoy hotel in London, where brand patriarch Guccio Gucci worked as a porter at the end of the 19th century and where he became inspired to create his luggage brand.
Less obvious heritage references were embroideries taken from ‘50s era Gucci clutches, which inspired crosshatch crystal-covered baby-doll dresses, tailored skirts and coats shimmying with delicate crystal fringe. The Marina Chain jewelry from the late 1960s (as captured by photographer David Sims in the Werbowy preview) appeared throughout, as great-looking gold statement necklaces and chain slingback pumps. And red-and-green Gucci stripes peeked out of the back slits of coats and skirts.
The week before the show, Gucci’s Instagram was wiped clean, signaling a new chapter for the brand. But De Sarno teased a few images on his own handle, including Werbowy posing in a Gucci jewelry campaign at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, where Gucci will host LACMA Art + Film Gala in November, and dress a lot of celebrities.
In addition to De Sarno’s debut, the brand is undergoing C-suite changes, with longtime president and star chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri exiting, leaving Gucci in a transitional phase.
Kering Group managing director Jean-François Palus is succeeding Bizzarri in the interim. François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering, said in July the group will begin the search for a permanent Gucci CEO in September or October, and is open to candidates from outside the luxury sector.
Whoever takes over faces a major task to get the brand — Kering’s largest in terms of revenues — back into growth mode. After a strong run of stellar increases under Bizzarri and Michele, the brand has consistently lagged its peers recently.
This collection, a clean sweep, should be a good start.
Launch Gallery: Gucci RTW Spring 2024
Best of WWD