Gucci Comes ‘Home’ to London


LONDON — “Who is Sabato De Sarno?” asks a 20-minute curio currently screening on MUBI. It introduces Gucci’s new creative director as he presents his first collection after eight years of fireworks from his predecessor Alessandro Michele. Here we are, barely eight months, another three collections and big-budgeted presentations later, and you’d think that by now we should have a pretty good idea of what the answer to that question might be. So here goes:

Sabato is stubborn. The collection he showed on Monday night in London was the work of a designer doubling down in the face of the criticism his efforts have generated so far (Gucci’s parent company Kering’s stock market woes probably the pointiest).

Sabato is sanguine. Everything about his post-show demeanour radiated “job well done” even as the grumbles grow.

Sabato is sentimental. He saw his show as a debt repaid to London, not just for what he considers to be the city’s longtime support for him personally, but also for the inspirational opportunities it offered Guccio Gucci a century ago.

Gucci Resort 2025
Gucci Cruise 2025 (Spolight/Launchmetrics.com)
Gucci Resort 2025
Gucci Cruise 2025 (Spolight/Launchmetrics.com)
Gucci Resort 2025
Gucci Cruise 2025 (Spolight/Launchmetrics.com)

Sabato’s sentimentality actually provided his show’s most uplifting moment when “The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood played out at the finale. Anyone who has had to emotionally reconstitute themselves at the heartbreaking climax of Andrew Haigh’s “All of Us Strangers” would have appreciated that song playing in the presence of the film’s stars Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, who were De Sarno’s guests on Monday. Pardon that inside-baseball moment, but I found the confluence much more moving than anything in the show itself.

The last time Gucci showed in London was Cruise 2017. The venue was Westminster Abbey, a splendidly arcane match for Michele’s skewiff fever dream of fashion. A witchy angel sang Scarborough Fair. Sabato De Sarno chose the Tanks at Tate Modern, a different kind of cathedral, stark, shadowy, post-industrial. A different kind of angel too: Debbie Harry in the front row and on the soundtrack singing “Heart of Glass” remixed with Philip Glass in a pairing that seemed quintessentially New York, enough so that it raised the spectre of Harry’s past connection with Coach, a comparison which didn’t do De Sarno’s collection many favours, and especially incongruous in the light of his stated love affair with London. But, in the same way that Coach has pinned down a particular kind of urban spirit for New York, De Sarno’s wayward women managed to evoke a slightly unkempt tomboy quality that was vaguely recognisable as London-ish, even if its energy was challenged by the show’s draggy pacing.

Gucci Resort 2025
Gucci Cruise 2025 (Spolight/Launchmetrics.com)
Gucci Resort 2025
Gucci Cruise 2025 (Spolight/Launchmetrics.com)

If I read the shownotes right (never guaranteed), De Sarno was seeing this show as the culmination of a trilogy: desirability, sensuality, and now the double whammy of romance and contradiction. The romance I wasn’t getting, the contradiction was plain to see. Duality can be a bit of an easy option, and so it was here. You stick lilac and mustard together and presto! But I set to thinking about a young Italian guy in London – Guccio, Sabato – escaping the strictures of Catholic Italy, released into London’s tumult of contrasts. The freedom!  And suddenly, there it all was. A fluoro green lace bra under a white poplin shirt! A pink duchesse bustier topping a cascading fringe of green bugle beads in a plaid pattern! Delicate organza daisies weighed down by a black leather donkey jacket! A lime green organza pussy bow over brown suede microshorts! (Which seem to be Sabato’s signature piece.) And those plissé fishtails at the end. Even if their floatiness was anchored by huge leather blousons, there was still a sense of freedom, to challenge conventional taste for sure. (So much brown suede.) And forget those chunky platform loafers Sabato’s been showing. Now he likes a black leather brothel creeper with Gucci-striped white socks. I’m almost seduced. The perplexing thing is, I might have a better idea of who Sabato De Sarno is as a person, but I still can’t work out where he stands as a designer, or who he intends his designs for.

The vast concrete Tanks were swaddled in a cloying mass of greenery. Man and nature. Duality in its most elemental form. Maybe I should just shut up and swallow the metaphor.

Gucci Cruise 2025



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