Why Alessandro Michele Wants Westminster Abbey...

Do Michele's matchy single-toned outfits remind you of anyone? Clue: she just turned 90.

Gucci Jamie Hawkesworth Vogue

Kensington Gardens was taken over by an ostentation of peacocks this weekend for Condé Nast’s annual Vogue Festival, held in a Frieze-like tent called ‘Vogue World’ and auditorium of the Royal Geographical Society. Every year, Alexandra Shulman, Vogue’s editor-in-chief, and the magazine’s staff open their arms to the public and bring the magazine to life with a line-up of starry guest speakers. Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, closed the festival with an in-depth chat with Shulman herself. Having joined the Italian brand a decade and half ago under the tutelage of Tom Ford (who had his Gucci studio in London at the time), Michele has enjoyed an anus mirabilis since his appointment in early 2015, rising from anonymous designer to toast of the fashion world, as well as Jared Leto’s Oscar date back in February. “I had five days to make a collection and I was sure the day after the show I would be fired,” he said of his boy-in-a-blouse debut, which was heralded as a landmark for gender-fluidity – a poignant far cry from Ford’s buff brand of louche, heterosexual hedonism. 

Michele will be giving our very own Westminster Abbey a Gucci outfitting next month for the Abbey’s first-ever fashion show, which will be held in the Cloisters. “We didn’t think they would say yes – it’s a bit like asking for Buckingham Palace!” said the designer, before adding that show would be an homage to the city and English people, all of whom he claims to love. “I chose Westminster because everyone is always trying to communicate the coolness of London with all of its hidden places, but I think Westminster Abbey is the coolest – it’s obvious but nice and it shows that history of the city is still alive.”

The Cloisters isn’t the only Christopher Wren building to have its fashion moment: Blenheim Palace will be taken over by Christian Dior next week for its resort fashion show, too.  It marks an industry trend for monolithic brands to fly dozens of international editors, models and celebrities to grand locations for a five-star treatment and a fashion show that is rather ironically live streamed to the rest of the world. For Michele, his choice of venue is more a statement of intent, chiming with the nostalgic, vintage-like feel to his heavily embellished designs. “Any time someone asks me about the future, I cannot answer, so I’m always trying to let the past talk for now.” Hmm...

Photograph courtesy of Jamie Hawkesworth, Vogue July 2015