Gucci was just one of several Italian brands to be accused of, at the very least, cultural ignorance, and at the very worst, racism earlier this month. The offending balaclava/roll-neck hybrid, which was widely denounced as evoking blackface imagery, was pulled immediately from stores. In addition to the subtle message beneath Gucci AW19, the brand announced a series of initiatives designed to embed cultural awareness and diversity in the company. These included scholarships for students in major cities including Seoul, New Delhi, Nairobi, and Beirut.

While its autumn/winter Gucci AW19 show made no explicit reference to the brouhaha, the show offered its usual ornate take on high-fashion inclusivity mixing streetwear with couture-level evening looks, classic catwalk beauties with street-cast models exuding individuality, and subjecting everyone – from CEO to PA – to a retina-searing light show. Here are five things to note from the Gucci autumn/winter 2019 show.


Masks were a running theme at Gucci AW19

Gucci AW19

Guests arriving in Milan found wooden packing boxes fixed with “Gucci” branded duct tape waiting for them. Inside, under a layer of straw, was a plaster mask of an antique face: Hermaphroditus, in Greek mythology the son of Aphrodite and Hermes, the gods of male and female sexuality. The show notes, verbose as ever, pontificated on Hannah Arendt’s theory of subjectivity: “when we show ourselves on the public scene, we reveal ourselves to each other in our plural identities.” In other words, we’re all using identity to reveal and conceal our true selves. All the world’s a stage. Let’s hold a mirror up to nature (or, in fact, a giant mirrored catwalk). This life? It’s all play-acting, baby.

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The lights were semi-blinding

Gucci AW19

Those mask invitations came in handy once the show began, as more than 120,000 extraordinarily bright LED lights comprising an elliptical wall around the 100m-long mirrored runway began pumping in waves, blinding the front row of editors (several of which resorted to throwing their coats over their heads to save their vision).


Carols are the new techno beats

Gucci AW19

The show soundtrack began with lions’ roars and ended with the Basque carol Gabriel’s Messageon a loop. Continuing in the Catholic vein, several models sported weeping Madonna tears, while others wore large jewel-encrusted crucifixes around their necks.

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It’s time to paint your ears gold

Gucci AW19

Gucci’s latest line in spectacular statement earrings? Golden ears that clip over your entire ear. Inspired by “Fashion Fiction #1”, a 24-carat sculptural gold ear by the artist Eduardo Costa, once worn by a young Marisa Berenson and photographed by Richard Avedon for a 1968 issue of Vogue, Michele had commissioned artisans to cast gold-plated hearing organs.


Gucci kneepads entered the Michele lexicon

Gucci AW19 kneepads

Fancy a kickabout? You’re in luck: Alessandro Michele, continuing in his ceaseless quest to make even the most perfunctory medical aid covetable (remember the operating theatre set?) has created Gucci-branded knee pads for AW19.





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