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Feb 25, 2015
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Brand new Gucci gets Milan off to a flier

Feb 25, 2015

MILAN, Italy - Gucci's new creative director Alessandro Michele unveiled a veritable feast of beanies and flouncy, nipple-flashing outfits as Milan fashion week started with a bee-themed bang on Wednesday.

It was the most hotly-awaited show of the season, with Michele unveiling the Italian luxury brand's new look after creative giant Frida Giannini departed acrimoniously in January along with her partner and company CEO Patrizio di Marco.

Gucci opens Milan Fashion Week - AFP / Giuseppe Cacace

Just a day after the New York Times published di Marco's leaving letter in which he stated "against my will, I leave my cathedral uncompleted," Michele was keen to distance himself from the gossip mill, calling for time to show off his talent.

"There is no room for consolatory nostalgia," the press release accompanying his new show read, adding that the designs embody "that elusive threshold between the 'no longer' and the 'not yet'".

It also referenced the "background" to the collection: "a place of unexpected events, rifts, remnants and amnesias."

- Fur cuffs -

The androgynous style which marked his Fall 2015 menswear collection -- which was put together in just five days in January when he took over -- was revisited, with female and male models sporting fur-cuffed box coats and long, loose bow ties.

It was romantic in parts, with a re-look at the brand's iconic floral pattern, and floaty rose or pale blue skirts, shirts and dresses, matched with fur slippers and bags with bees on them.

Gucci Fall-Winter 2015/16 - AFP / Giuseppe Capace

Beanies, Michele has obviously decided, are now for the super chic -- as are school-girl horn-rimmed glasses, frills, flounces and the sort of see-through tops of which your mum would disapprove.

With Giannini reportedly ousted after a long decline in the brand's sales -- which fell 1.8 percent in 2014 to 3.5 billion euro ($3.9 billion) -- all eyes will now be on whether the more outlandish of Gucci's new pieces will win over the high street.

The show kicked off a fast-paced week of catwalks, stellar swag bags and champagne-fuelled parties in the northern Italian city.

Trend-spotters will be looking to see if the trends for black Gothic looks, brocade, fur and shearling spotted at New York and London's fashion weeks will be given a stiletto twist by Italy's masters of chic.

Whether black turns out to be the new black or not, Milan is decidedly in the pink after a long economic downturn which hit the luxury industry hard.

"The fashion economy is back on track. It's going to be an excellent fashion week shaped by the sort of economic situation we've not seen for years," said Mario Boselli, head of the Italian Fashion Chamber.

- Destined to grow -

After a 3.7 percent rise in turnover in 2014, the chamber has forecast just a 1.6 percent increase for 2015.

But "favourable economic circumstances mean that figure is destined to grow," said the fashion force who is stepping down in April after 15 years in which he has boosted ties with emerging markets and Chinese talent in particular.

Gucci Fall-Winter 2015/16 AFP - AFP

A longstanding row over timetables has been resolved -- at least for this season -- so that Armani will close the shows before the fashion extravaganza decamps to Paris.

The rest of the week's line-up is packed: 68 catwalk shows, 80 presentations and 151 collections unveiled in total, along with numerous exhibitions and projects linked to Milan's Expo 2015 world fair, which kicks off in May.

Those looking for upcoming talent will be sure to catch the presentation by Vienna-born Arthur Arbesser, who studied at Central Saint Martins and did seven years at Armani before striking out on his own, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious LVMH prize.


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