The year has started, eyes are wide open, and, for better or for worse, fashion month is once again upon us. The start is a strong one with none other than Sabato de Sarnos’s debut in the menswear agenda with Ancora at Milan’s Menswear Fashion Week as the head of Gucci, following his awaited womenswear start last September, a very commented but polarising one that made this second encounter feel like a defining moment that could either produce sighs of relief or raise even more concern among the nonbelievers. Well, we can confidently say he did what had to be done and shut the mouths of the ones who doubted. We never did, so we are safe.
Ever since his arrival—no, ever since his announcement—the scepticism around the name of a non-very flamboyant designer as the new head of what was perhaps one of the most flamboyant houses of the last few years has been the common denominator in the brains of a large portion of Gucci’s clients and fans—the most flamboyant portion, of course. It seems that it is hard for the general audience to conceive of a world where one era ends and another begins, with the obvious changes and evolutions that go hand in hand with this transformation, and that these changes are not meant to be measured as better or worse. This is not a competition; it’s a creative field, and there’s nothing more subjective and personal than one form of understanding creativity.
Sabato’s fresh start at Gucci last September was one that reflected very clearly who he is and how he wants to approach a house that has gone through a considerable amount of transformation in its 103 years of history. He stated clearly the idea in his womenswear collection, and if maybe someone didn’t understand it quite well, he repeated it again, Ancora, more loudly and more clearly in the menswear. With a concept where one collection mirrored the other, with some looks even appearing exactly the same, the cohesiveness of his whole universe is complete, and it seems like the story he wanted to tell is finally available for everyone.
The looks presented make up the attire of the real humans that wear clothes every single day, that move from one place to another, from one country to another, that go to work, that have a job, and that don’t want to feel as if they have to wear a costume of a put-together human but feel as comfortable with their outside clothes as they do with their inside clothes. Each look seems well thought out, from the material and the fabrics to the shape and the way they interact with the body.
The outerwear falls exactly in place, with the big coats, oversized blazers, and puffy bomber jackets looking everything but heavy or restraining; they look comfortable, warm, and flattering. The suits speak business but not in a heartless masculine way; they have a personality that is strong but in a delicate way, thanks to the wrinkles, the prominent but tasty prints, or the pleasing colour combinations.
Speaking of colour, the Ancora red has consecrated itself as one of the most relevant shades in fashion ever since its first feature in the womenswear collection, and the appearance in men’s shoes, bags, and garments looks so natural and makes so much sense that I expect it to become a no-brainer that widens the very often narrow male fashion taste horizons. The reinterpretation of the tie with a piece that swines between the jewellery/scarf/leash is another element we can only hope will become a staple in the men’s closet—a very elegant twist that gives a new meaning to an otherwise traditional and, why not, boring piece with what feels like a more open-minded approach to masculinity.
De Sarno said it in a recent interview: He is, before anything, a designer, and that’s what the current fashion industry needs. No one but a designer understands what people need and how fabrics, techniques, shapes, materials, and crafts can join and work together to supply those needs. Clothing is meant to be worn; brands don’t exist solely for celebrities, and the quality of a garment is not determined by the number of extravagant elements put into it. It seems that we can enter an era where the technique is appreciated, where ideas can be whispered instead of screamed, and where real designers can work in the positions they are meant to.