Gucci Mania

Rediscovering the fun in fashion

A photo posted by Gucci (@gucci) on

A photo posted by Gucci (@gucci) on

Whether in architecture or clothing, minimalism has always been my preferred mode. Coco Channel once said, “Before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” I live by that motto.

So over the years, I’ve grown to depend on plain clothing. Blue (I don’t look good in black), gray, light blue shirts, classic coats, jeans, sneakers, loafers, simple skirts, etc. These are the key pieces of my wardrobe. Mostly from small, artisanal brands like Bless from Berlin, Cosmic Wonder and Minä Perhonen from Japan (the latter means “I, butterfly” in Finnish, as the Japanese designer, Akira Minagawa, is a self-professed fan of the lifestyle and culture of Finland), or Sofie D’Hoore from Belgium—I am a huge fan of her great lean shirts. I attribute this to my mentor in fashion, Sonia Eram from Mameg, who is the chicest and most elegant minimalist you can imagine.

But on January 9th, 2016, I received a WhatsApp message from my friend, Leslie Sun, who lives in Taiwan and is another total purist. It simply said, “Fashion is fun again.” Attached was the Gucci spring/summer 2016 campaign video by Glen Luchford.

Suddenly my wardrobe seemed much too…minimal. What I needed were sparkling appliqués. Greens, pinks, and yellows. This outrageous fashion exuded a spirit of adventure and inspired me in unexpected ways. With renewed vigor for having fun with fashion, I was compelled to dress up.

In April, I went to Milan on a short business trip—and headed straight to the city’s fashion “rectangle” or quadrilatero della moda, and specifically Via Montenapoleone, the most luxurious of them all. The Gucci flagship there got a makeover last year to herald the arrival of it’s new fashion director, Alessandro Michele. Prêt-à-porter is on the lower level, with the best selection of Alessandro Michele’s pieces…and the most patient sales staff.

Turning left, you have the women’s collection. Turning right, it’s men’s.

I turned left.

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A photo posted by Peter Kempe (@gazette_pierre) on

A lovely sales assistant, Diana, introduced the collection. Ten minutes later, I found myself in the dressing room with some shirts, pajama trousers, skirts—in brash colors and forms that my former self would never have gone near—and tried on everything that Diana proposed.

In between outfits, in the central area of the large fitting room, I encountered an international collection of women.

Between us we spoke five languages, and couldn’t have been more culturally and physically diverse. We ranged from tall, slender, and Nordic to curvy Arabian, sturdy Russian, petite Japanese, and southern Italian Rubenesque. We had all tried on uplifting pieces—that were clearly created for Charlotte Casiraghi on the red carpet and the young international jetset.

None of us represented any of that, yet we found ourselves transformed into chatty girls with something fun and lovely in common. Never would I have given unsolicited advice, nor would I have accepted a stranger telling me my skirt was too short, but that day open opinions were apropos and warmly received. It was a sort of party, filled with laughter and good cheer.

After an hour of playing dress-up, I realized that these pieces could only be worn the way they were designed: as a complete outfit. The voice of common sense inside my head started to make itself heard again. To avoid becoming a complete fashion victim, I asked the ever-so-patient Diana for her understanding and promised to return after sleeping on it. I said goodbye to my new friends and left for a much needed cappuccino at Marchesi on the other side of the street.

The next day, I returned to find Diana was not there. A senior representative took over, and I told her the story of my previous visit and how lost I was.

She smiled as only an Italian lady can and said, “The secret is men’s clothing.”

It made absolute sense. I’ve always had a soft spot for men’s clothing and have been wearing what boys like for years.

This time, I turned right.

I was shown the “must-have” of the pre-fall season: a simple pair of men’s jeans embroidered with an orange lily and a red snake. Love!

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And they fit perfectly! Then, she brought a crisp, white t-shirt and whispered, “This is how our Chief Stylist wears it.”

I had to laugh. We had come full circle. Back to my minimalist roots, but this time with fun and flair.

Then came the question every girl asks: “And what kind of shoes should I wear with this?”

The answer came promptly: the Princetown slippers in black—let’s go the full monty!

Gucci Milano Flagship
Via Monte Napoleone 5-7
Milan, Italy 20121