Gucci Once More

Sabato De Sarno’s menswear debut follows his first runway collection for Gucci, but this time, more confident in its perspective
Published: 12 June 2024

Depending on the nature and mechanics of a fashion brand, a creative director has but two key chances to debut—one for a womenswear collection, and one for menswear. Gucci’s return to separate runway shows for its main seasonal collections (since the Autumn/Winter 2023 season) afforded Sabato De Sarno with such a luxury.

Having said that, first impressions are still weighed heavily and critically in fashion. De Sarno’s official debut was Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2024 womenswear collection and it was an expectantly different aesthetic from the House’s previous creative director. Called “Ancora”, the collection alluded to the Italian word’s multiple meanings, mainly “again” (a reiteration of House codes), “more” (a desire that De Sarno wants to evoke) as well as Gucci’s own interpretation, “also now, also then” as a metaphor for the continued reverence of its heritage and the possibilities of the future.

The Spring/Summer 2024 womenswear collection was an aesthetically pared back collection that saw a shift from excessive embellishments to focused cuts and silhouettes. De Sarno envisions a Gucci that relies less on the pomp and circumstance of abject eccentricity. This new Gucci—or is it born-again Gucci?—seemed to take its cues from what a young, modern Italian woman would want in her wardrobe. The collection was a dialogue of what was already happening on the streets albeit elevated and made more luxurious with its use of materials.

It’s inevitable that the receptions were split. Coming off the heels of a predecessor continuously credited with the House’s contemporary revival is no walk in the park, especially when the new direction is far removed from that of the past seven years. But what many fail to understand is that a creative direction isn’t born from just one single collection alone—it takes time to cook.

And cook De Sarno did.

If the Spring/Summer 2024 womenswear collection was an appetiser in De Sarno’s Gucci, the Autumn/Winter 2024 menswear collection is the main course. It is ‘meatier’ with menswear proposals that offer newness without the need to shout, while at the same time, grounded by a sense of approachability. One doesn’t need to be a style maven or have a certain kind of inclination to partake in Gucci any more. There’s a sense of that oft-used adage in fashion: wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you.

Sabrina Elba and Idris Elba. (GUCCI)
Mark Ronson. (GUCCI)
Jay Park. (GUCCI)
George MacKay. (GUCCI)
Lucky Love. (GUCCI)
Kingsley Ben-Adir. (GUCCI)
Elliot Page. (GUCCI)

The show had a rather diverse celebrity guest list that reflected the collection’s more malleable personality. Idris Elba’s imposing stature lent a gentlemanly presence to an all-over GG monogram coat, Elliot Page kept things simple and chic with a tailored base under a blouson, Jay Park bravely showed off chest tattoos by going bare under a bomber jacket (it was still winter at the time of the show), and Gucci campaign star Kingsley Ben-Adir finished his Canadian tuxedo with Ancora red Horsebit loafers. Save for the Gucci-branded elements in their ensembles, everyone looked characteristically different, each wearing Gucci their own way.

That is not to say that the Autumn/Winter 2024 menswear collection lacks a style point-of-view—that’s hardly the case. Like for his debut, De Sarno presented a clean slate focused on impeccably tailored pieces and in colours that aren’t out of the reach of the average man. Tailored trousers are slim and end right at the ankle, effectively lengthening the legs. Suit blazers and coats feature classic, strong shoulders, while other outerwear in the collection have slightly dropped shoulders and are cut decidedly oversized. There’s nary a sneaker in sight; variations of the Horsebit loafers showcase the design’s versatility as it’s manipulated with different embellishments, heels, and outsoles to exude different vibes.

As cliché as it may sound, the devil is in the details. Monochromatic suiting feature intentional deep creases at points where they would have eventually formed with wear. The collection’s defining accessory, De Sarno’s take on the cravat, consists of a long strip of fabric wrapped around the neck and secured by metal hardware. The details continue at the back—outerwear vents reveal Gucci’s signature tricoloured webbing, leather jackets are embossed with “Gucci” at the hem, and even socks give peeks of webbing at the heel.

There is a studied intention in the way that De Sarno executed the collection. The details all call to a more subtle Gucci. Sure, the GG monogram remains a prevalent branding device and appears in a trio of in-your-face looks within the collection, but they are only a small portion and still done very elegantly. The rest of the collection is an emphasis on Gucci’s heritage and leitmotifs that have gone on to become timeless icons.

Speaking of timeless icons, the Jackie bag is reenvisioned in a proportionally more masculine size. The extra-large upgrade retains every single element of De Sarno’s iteration of the Jackie, including the new hook closure that differentiates itself from the piston closure of the Jackie 1961 series as well as the original. It’s clear that De Sarno intends for the hook closure to become a new Gucci signature, much like the horsebit. It is positioned as the aforementioned metal hardware of the collection’s neck accessory and also incorporated into a new leather crossbody bag. The latter is a more minimal version of the Jackie—a similar crescent-shaped silhouette but in a softer construction and without too many frills—with a top zipped closure, taken from the House’s archives.

De Sarno is undoubtedly crafting a Gucci that is centred on timeless elegance. In place of the shock factor that its previous creative director had created time after time—something that eventually became a rather predictable modus operandi—De Sarno is reenforcing Gucci’s tailoring and craftsmanship as well as house icons while introducing new ones. And most importantly, he is priming these signatures to be relevant not just for now but for years to come. Isn’t that a good thing to have once again?

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