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Our latest – and current – print issue, METAL 42, explored the theme of rituals: from the outstanding pictures by Charles Fréger documenting folkloric costumes worldwide to Midsommar (the twisted and dark second film by Ari Aster), to the nature-healing performances by Fern Shaffer, Charli XCX’s new album, Kokoko!’s upcycling approach to music or Michèle Lamy’s connection to music, performance, identity and fashion. For the Fall/Winter 2020 collection, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele explores yet another ritual that we’re all familiar with: the fashion show.

These past years, the meaning – or even the validity – of runway shows has been questioned every season and in every city. Some designers have turned to more modest presentations while others have given the runway new and unexpected spins. In an age where live videos and Instagram stories help broadcast shows to anyone who’s not attending it, is it still that important to be present? I say: of course. The magic of a live performance is never the same when you’re not seeing it with your own eyes or feeling it in your own body.

For the opening of the Milan Fashion Week, Gucci reminded us why we love fashion: the aura and allure but, more importantly, all that goes behind the scenes. Staging the show circularly – the stage revolved 360-degrees –, it somehow transported us to a circus tent. And the idea of the circus was, indeed, very present as well – when Michele affirmed that fashion and filmmaking are part of the same circus (in allusion to a voiceover of Fellini celebrating the art of filmmaking that Gucci’s Creative Director used as the opening and closing of the show). “A crew made of people that put up a show as they set up the circus, and the same happens when they dismantle it and they’re already leaving and also the departure becomes a show”, the filmmaker once said.

“I have always considered the fashion show as a magic event bursting with enchantment. A liturgical action that suspends the ordinary, loading it with an excess of intensity”, affirmed Alessandro. “In a celebration that feeds off expectations, my thought takes its shape and goes public”, he continued. This time, it went even more public than usual. Exposing himself, the hair and makeup artists as well as the stylists, the Fall/Winter 2020 presentation revealed the secrets and last-minute stressful moments that happen before models strut down the runway. “You were our show, and we were your show”, he told the press backstage when the show was finished.

As for the collection, Michele continues exploring childhood and its links to freedom, joy and beauty. Uniform-inspired looks, long socks with mary-jane shoes, blazers, pinafore dresses, plaid prints and pleated skirts transported us to those years when life was easier and our attitude more careless. He also included Christian-inspired details – like pendants with big crosses, for example –, which he, as (almost) any Italian, relates to the concept of ritual – a couple of outfits also looked Sunday-church-appropriate from head to toe. In all, Alessandro Michele celebrates fashion in all its glory, from the behind-the-scenes processes to the final runway show. And that’s a ritual we want to remain with us.

David Valero

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