Gucci + Lanvin: Not a Collaboration

They appeared some days before opening. The incomplete stage, situated beneath the grand dome and visible from balconies above, was at the ground floor covered in black shroud. Like the members of a traveling theater troupe, staff in performance dress stood outside it with arms crossed, speaking earnestly. Of what? Peculiarities of acoustics? The customs of patronage in this region? In gold tracksuits they resembled nothing so much as off-duty members of a 1970s Formula One team, the offhand glitter of their clothes producing in the rural circuit-town a longing for urban glamour. And it is precisely to honouring this decade, and this desire for a material memento from these otherworldly jinn—a sticker, a used sparkplug, a cap—that Alessandro Michele has committed his Gucci.

We have all, for the most part, been with him, too.

American media have thrilled to the gender-bending qualities of recent Gucci collections. Famous rich young men appeared on magazine covers wearing pieces from women’s collections. Less famous younger people on younger media platforms embraced and embellished this aspect of Michele’s Gucci, part of this country’s ancient insistence on manifesting some—any—kind of destiny. In the face of economic and environmental apocalypse, we shall meet it, we learned, amidst gender and sexual freedom.  

And what could be a more relevant reference to our dizzying present, more flattering to the intelligence of the masses who line up at Gucci stores (like no place else now save Louis Vuitton) than the American 1970s? Frills, bell bottoms, lacy collared shirts and pointy lapelled jackets, yes, but also messy imperial wars with disastrous withdrawals, stagflation and liberatory politics fractured by questions of inclusion.

Michele’s lookbooks, of sumptuous Victorian/1970s hybrid interiors in freshly faded colours, point to a simpler explanation of his preferred references: these chaotic years, as translated by Michele, involved a maximalist interpretation of colour, print, and cut. There was more, not to put too fine a point on it, pretty. Subsequent decades made more space for irony, for slick monochromes or a deliberate dowdiness, which we see renewed, for example, by Demna Gvasalia. But who would pay for that garbage? Michele, by the play involved in his—admittedly not very revolutionary—nostalgic return to an earlier decade’s preoccupations, can have his cake and eat it: make pretty clothes without taking a previous era, or our own, too seriously. After all, surely some bullies wore bell bottoms, too. 

Who better than Michele, a virtuoso of liberatory lateness, to celebrate 100 years of Gucci? The anniversary Gucci pop-up at South Coast Plaza contains marvels, though on entrance a soberly suited employee couldn’t confirm quite what. 

“I write on fashion. Could you tell me the inspiration for that green installation? A train station?” 

A blank, but nevertheless widening smile. “Yes it could be.” 

I wondered if this was affected mystery or the inoffensive (and thus offensive) enforced open-mindedness of our times. Inside, however, I was given by a second staffer a beautifully measured tour of the collection, including the archival details which represent the efforts of past collections and designers. The women’s patterned trench coat is stunning, the more archival and baroque shoes a joy, and the wool men’s jacket (light of colour yet double-breasted?!) in anniversary tapestry particularly covetable. The latter we learned integrates references to pop music lyrics which label-checked the house.


It is easier to have nostalgia for a period one does not deeply know. Anyway, it’s a familiar furrow. Celine, and its cover band Saint Laurent (we knew it was the idea all along but didn’t imagine it would come off so easily) are also firmly embedded in a ’70s aesthetic, though this is shifting as Hedi Slimane plays with a bolder language of logo streetwear. For consideration of an alternative epoch, Bruno Sialleli’s Lanvin has interested us since his first men’s collections swerved, unlike Slimane and Michele, not from the 1990s, but to it. Reflecting on this period of superficial socio-economic consensus, of the end of history, but also of irony (which Michele has had to inject back into his cherished references-Slimane doesn’t use it), Sialleli crafted a composite tailoring which examined the ’90s prehistory of athleisure: oversized and athletic but paired with slightly too cute prints. This frisson, that the forever loungy jeans and Footlocker look did flatter some boys, and can look really good on really pretty models, was a brave move in a market with a wariness of artistically addressing recent decades of pop culture.      

The men’s looks in the Spring 22 show baffle us. If Sialleli in his first shows at Lanvin hovered over an innovative combination of post-Loewe sailor boy and forbidden straight boy ‘90s nu-nostalgia, he appears in this show to have yanked hard on the stick, pulling out of the landing. The pieces here are monochrome, gone are the contrast collars, all of it in Kim Jones Dior purples and blues. Jackets, in the previous shows matching oversized trousers with thoughtfully piped sleeves, are wider now all over, thus eliminating their distinctive internal tension. Half-hearted shaggy dog and boucle numbers look a lot like Daniel Lee’s first shows at BV. There are a few graphic prints, which seem fine, but in a not unisex show with 11 men’s looks, we have no story for them. The meat of Lanvin’s men’s collections, that interesting tailoring and play on the unconscious athleisure boy, is buried on the website and on the racks in-store. For the men, then, why even bother with the show?         

Celine Men’s Summer 2022

Among the fashion designer “heavies,” Hedi Slimane—photographer, filmmaker, music obsessive—would seem the least likely, in this era of digital-only shows, to display a clinginess to the rubric of the runway. His men’s collections are some of the least fashion-referential going, his modern business miracle the translation of a connoisseur’s recursive, selfish passions into equally indefatigable sales. The early, pre-pandemic Celine shows involved the lowering onto conventional runways of spheres and boxes, containers of Slimane’s comprehensive worlds, the venue largely incidental. A suburban bedroom wall is, after all, the site of the most vivid and enduring dreams. And yet his pandemic shows have revealed a preference for circuits: at the Circuit Paul Ricard; the athletics track at the Parc des Princes; and in the newest film, of the men’s spring ‘22 collection, a motocross ramp circuit cum runway perched on the coast of southern France.        

The English language website offers a tripartite name for the film, “Cosmic Cruiser/Riding a New Age/Restless Dreams of a Cosmic Teen.” Ambitious claims. American viewers will indeed recognize further evidence of Slimane’s intuitive understanding of youth culture. Several major American cities in recent years have been regularly overrun, without warning, by hordes of young men and boys on motocross and quad bikes, a series of lawless but mostly (though not always) harmless (save for eardrums) expressions of youthful enthusiasm. For the urban doomsdayers, these youth represent an alarming new urban dystopian futurity. 

Check your parochialism! Given the film’s specific credit to fmx and motocross riders “FMX4EVER” and “Team Honda SR,” we would instead appear to have here classic Slimane. A chance encounter with a subculture, an image of youth, glimpsed in transit, a picture of that reluctant conjunction at the bloom of male youth: of awkward clothing and the unselfconscious preference to cast it off. So it is that we have shirtless motocross riders and a collection inspired by riding leathers. 

Slimane’s single-mindedness, at length, can pall. One yearns for a touch of irony, of selfconscious play. Slimane’s ideal subjects, even when self-styled, are unconscious of their viewership; a runway audience, after all, is not made up of their teen peers. And in a rare misfire, this show is ripe not for humour, but for send-up. What is a more familiar graveyard for unintentionally camp dystopias than motorbike futurism? See the Mad Max series, or Waterworld. Smoky two-stroke motocross bikes, unchanged for nearly a century, as a bellwether of our future? The up-to-datedness of the rider’s helmets and glasses (translated for the show into desirable sunglasses, not incidentally) seems to eliminate the small chink of selfconscious play in this storyline. A miss.

To the clothes. Slimane’s summer collections have always been weighted for an unseasonably cool Scandinavia. Wool tailoring, leather. Even so, this season, preoccupied as it is with the motorcycle motif, appears to depict a radically alternative future, in which temperatures are due not to rise, but cool, and drastically so. 

Quick buyer’s guide: if you are in need of leather—conventional jacket with a runway embellishment, an oversized sleeveless jacket, trousers—any of these pieces will do. They have Slimane’s nerdy accuracy on design, a variety difficult to find in leather clothing anywhere else and the (admittedly dubious) patina of rarity/collectibility that comes with Slimane’s runway pieces. A buyer will not find themselves with a dad’s leather jacket.

Here lies part of the secret of Slimane’s success. For a show which is ostensibly about an image of adolescence, with complete looks of teenage rebellion, each piece, considered alone, is crafted from costly, adult fabrics. Viewed on a rack in-store, they look, in leather, in grandpa wool, much more grown up. When tried on, (we, ahem, exclude fitted trousers here) they produce that aha! Lust effect that might appear unimaginable from viewing the shows which are, quite rightly, so many concept kitchens for mature buyers. 

Wool suiting, well represented in the summer ‘21 collection, has been largely replaced by the glut of leather but also by the most interesting series of pieces in the show, which, like French porcelain (think Hermes/Puiforcat) makes use of a circuit/line tracery print, put to beautiful effect in lighter, billowy pieces. Much more inclined to vintage-stylized text logos and palm trees, these are a welcome detour for Slimane. This tracery is also present in a stud application on a denim jacket. The one to buy. 

Trousers are baggy, the denim too “Jnco” for us but in the cotton/linen print (see above) and in an interesting selection of soft leisure pants, impressive. With correct (which is to say, lousy) application of logos, these sweatpants will sell in the United States.  

What suiting there is is cut in an approachable style, not nearly as baggy as the denim but neither is it at the Slimane extreme of rail-thighed rocker slim. We didn’t get on with SS21, which seemed, with the launch of ‘80s basketball sneakers and other informal looks, a decline toward logo streetwear and, we feared, a lack of interest by Slimane. This collection, by contrast, is exciting for Celine collectors. We own versions of everything on sale here (save the capes and the bucket hat visor thingy), but these clever variations on traditional Slimane don’t make us want the new stuff any less. When Slimane’s collections appear preposterously unsuited to the seasons they purport to outfit, we know he is in form. Just let him do his thing.  

Must Haves: All of the look at 10:19; stud denim jacket in tracery (and anything else in the print); leather and silk capes

Dislikes: We loathe hoodies and loathe logos. There are lots of logo hoodies here.

Bag Bumming

My new daily driver is Lanvin’s “Hook” Bag. It is large and structured, so that I can load it with all the necessaries of a full day out, yet also flexible enough for a tight space; between people or car seats. It is also thrillingly unisex, with a sturdy, comfortable strap that can produce purse, tote, and even backpack effects. Adjusting it is a pleasure, since it fastens with a tasteful loop stamped with the Lanvin text logo. The hardware has discreet house logos, too, and the eagle-eyed (a rep at the local Loewe store not among them; she thought it was one of their own) will note the “JL” stitching of the strap. 

The bag is elegant and luxurious, but not too “cutely” shaped. It serves very well on days we haven’t the strength to trade in “well, men’s bags aren’t pretty-deal with it!” defiance.

On receipt of it from Lanvin’s K11 Musea Hong Kong store, I didn’t think of reviewing or filming it. I just wanted to cram our things in it and use it. That process was a relief, too, as I transferred my cards to the attached wallet. For years now I’ve used a Valentino rockstud fold wallet. A pleasure to use and pretty, the studs nevertheless required careful attention to avoid scratching other leather accessories in a shared tote. The (permanent?) retirement of the Valentino and the personal revelation of the attached wallet-how many discarded bags have misshapen, abused, royal like the currency they nobly carried, these little flags separated from their bodies, waving in surrender?-gave me a delightfully carefree feeling. 

Perhaps too carefree. After a midweek lunch I stepped into a local Whole Foods grocery store for a single item: peanut butter for post-exercise smoothies. 

Whole Foods stores in this area resemble nothing so much as a singles bar. Shopping expensively, in their sexiest athleisure wear, the no-longer-quite youth here describe the very kernel of their souls by the food they (don’t) eat. There has always in this location been bouncers, too. They have since it opened nearly a decade ago had a preoccupation with imagined theft (of what?), and employ patrolling security at all hours.

So it was, dressed thus

that we entered for a precision grab of organic peanut butter. I picked from the shelf the nearest container and brought it to my chest before, superstitiously, remembering to replace it for an “untouched” container at the back of the shelf, no matter that I already handled the “dirtier” one. 

Quarry in hand I made for the checkout. But first, I made to extract the attached wallet from the Hook bag. Pulling on the leather strap it was rapidly reeled to the surface. My hands though, were still damp with hand sanitizer from entering the store. Concerned, unnecessarily, with the leather finish, I attempted to unzip the wallet while exposing it to the minimum surface area of hands and fingers.

Although I have long since lost any shame at the public display of “women’s bags,” I also feel no need to advertise this little gender rebellion in a “conservative” (that is to say, anti-cosmopolitan) locale. I half-turned for privacy, still by the peanut butter, to learn the best use of the wallet, struggling in a pinched chicken wing posture, sawing ineffectually at the string zipper.
Card in hand I waited in line behind a family of three, the father, trim and outdoorsy, negotiating with his daughter, whose head reached just below the terminal, about who should conduct their card transaction. 
“I can!”
“You will-one second.”
The father inserted the card, rather unsportingly I thought, while the girl stood with furrowed brow, her two hands poised around it. 
“Okay, take it.”

I gave a “wasn’t that nice” smile to the checker, a woman in her 30s. In my left hand the peanut butter; in right, shouldered bag and credit card. 

As I extended my arm to hand her the peanut butter she asked, “Is that all?”
“Yep,” I said, automatically, in the way a parent might affirm a newly speaking child’s identification of a passing object. 
“Is that all?” she said again, this time with a low tone to the final word.
“Yeah,” I said, with an apologetic chuckle, unsure whether she hadn’t heard us, or if she thought a single item unusual.
“Is that all?” she said, this time taking time over each word. 
“Oh. You think I’m shoplifting?!”
“I don’t know what you’re doing.”

I immediately understood why I was being accused-it was the fussing with the bag and the peanut butter swap. Nevertheless an unedifying scene followed.


Of the hand-wringing threats to the fashion industry-sustainability, diversity, retail/resale-the least threatening to us is the big resale websites. What is the benefit, when a live-feed of a purchase broadcasts our individual credibility, of buying a used bag at 80% of retail on the TheRealReal? Overproduction and year-round sales from all but a couple of the conglomerate labels mean it is possible to buy these items new for less than on consignment, where the buyer has to pay for two sellers. 

TheRealReal is useful as a well photographed archive, however. Searching for the proper name for our Lanvin Hook bag, a used version was advertised to us by Google. TheRealReal called it a “leather Hobo bag” (1125.00 USD). 

After our experience trying to buy peanut butter with it, we thought this an accurate description.

Or: was it to do with that double waisted Prada trouser? Does the sight of it anger people? You be the judge:


The upheaval of the runway calendar would seem to suit Hedi Slimane. The glamour and theatre of his tightly focused runway shows, known for their near martial discipline in look and organization (no cameras, please!) only just contain the obsessive collector’s impulse: to be left alone alone with their art. “Have a look by all means” they seem to say, “But don’t touch that. Actually, you know…maybe we shouldn’t…” 

His men’s clothes, brilliant snapshots of Western pop subcultures, are products of a similar privacy, recursive variations of the antiquarian’s most cherished possessions. Critics and consumers split over this intimacy: on the one hand devoted followers with enough pride in “getting it” to buy clothes that don’t look good on most of them. On the other, observers possessing greater familiarity with the references on which the collections are based, who encounter the single-mindedness of Slimane’s work with some embarrassment, like opening the door to the room that wasn’t the bathroom and finding the secret pursuits of an acquaintance. All rather his thing, isn’t it? 

Of his early poetry Auden wrote: “…my sacred world was autistic, that is to say, I had no wish to share it with others nor could I have done so.” The genius of Slimane is his combination of this uncompromising ethos—or its very packaging—with sales.

The imposed film debuts of 2021 collections are a logical format for the controlled and personal inspirations of Slimane’s work, and indeed, his last two collections have deepened, if possible, the viewer’s immersion in Slimane’s clothes as period pieces. Traditional runway perspective has been replaced, in these films focused on youth, with oblique camera angles and fleeting images of the models, suggesting the greedy adolescent desire for both visibility and anonymity.    

“Teen Knight Poem,” Slimane’s winter 2021 collection for Celine, follows spring’s “The Dancing Kid,” also digital, and the two together mark a shift, in contrast to Slimane’s first three men’s collections for the label, to more youthful and casual designs. Spring was goodbye for now to the streetwise artist boy-men of Slimane’s physical runways, whose fitted, pointy hips we viewed frontally, as a besotted fan might gaze at their indie rocker idol. Oh, that ahem, belt! Instead we have a digital presentation with drone footage, the methods and looks signaling Slimane’s reckoning with the new app idols. Less formal, improvised, unabashedly revealing and yet profoundly, sexily, inexperienced.

It is something of a surprise given his long relationship with fashion and film that Slimane’s winter collection is unwilling to leave the catwalk behind; in this case, the dramatic catwalk of the sixteenth-century gothic Château de Chambord. The setting, between the pointed arches of the Chateau is typically striking, and a tantalizing context for one of Slimane’s deep archival dives. Would he joust head-on with the present standard-bearer for fashion gothic, Sarah Burton’s McQueen, whose structured tailoring, historical fabrics, and crusading leather delights in sinister formality? 

Not quite. Uncharacteristically, the clothes and styling were something of a mash-up, perhaps because the term “teen,” if it meant anything at all in the sixteenth-century, probably didn’t mean what it does today. Rather than teenagers from the Middle Ages, we are presented with what a jock in an American high school of the last 30 years might call a “Goth.” In this case, a Curehead. Blown out and coloured hair, lots of eyeshadow, maximalist jewelery, and layers of boyfriend outerwear covering androgynous shirts and knitwear. The result is a show which, instead of offering a single focused look, gives us either several or a preposterously specific one, of a 1980s adolescent on holiday visiting a castle, waiting to get back to the hotel.

Slimane diehards will grieve at the sloppiness that results from the unlikely combination of contemporary streetwear culture and the two types of Gothic on display here. Military references are confused: desirable chainmail influenced pants, jackets and jewelry; but what’s with the camouflage? Logos, as they tend to do, sit uneasily in the collection. We have both Gothic script t-shirts and Slimane’s all-caps sans serif “CELINE” logo. Slim, caped ecclesiastical figures in all black will titillate the Hedi old-guard as much as the hoodied, logoed, denim jacket and sneakers model will plunge them into despair. 

The inconsistencies matter because at his best Slimane is the master of encyclopaedic lateness. His interpretations of period clothing for Celine, from fit to fabric to deliciously weird looking models, sell the idea that another time and place would have suited us better than this one. He offered a wardrobe for adolescent longing. This show, however, gives us a great deal of what a typical and unadventurous teen has always uncomfortably worn. Instead of a remedy or conduit for teenage angst, contemporary teen culture is livestreamed for us. Rather than a creative fan sharing an antique labour of love, Slimane has simply opened his phone camera.  

There are here fewer of the explosive Hedi moments, when the consumer sees their proper selves in the runway model and, by extension, must have every piece of a look. The Winter 21 model—in cape, hoodie, logo beanie, and jeans, is much more an a´ la carte proposition.

gyun gyun’s take:

A confused story means fewer hits. But as ever, Slimane doesn’t hit singles. These are the home runs:

BUY: the opening look, in toto

Chainmail pieces!: metallic trousers; long jackets esp. metallic lapelled coat ; the (thin) jewelry

Frilled shirts +/- fitted knitwear

All the leather footwear–an excellent and attractive departure from slim/angular shapes of H.S.’s Celine.