Prepare to queue for Gucci's whimsical and eccentric new collection

Gucci autumn/ winter 2017

The queues – yes queues! – outside Gucci’s stores around the world are clearly not just window shoppers. The brand recently opened a new 377,000 square feet HQ in Milan.

A former aeronautical factory built in 1915, it is now Planet Gucci, complete with a studio for Gucci’s resident graffiti artist, entertaining areas for clients, showrooms and 2,000 square feet of catwalk space.

It’s here that the revived economics of Gucci start. In today’s show – the first to fully combine men’s and women’s wear, as is the prevailing trend - Alessandro Michele sent out 105 looks. That’s prodigious by any standards, but when you consider that for Michele, each “look” comprises enough merchandise to fill a rail, you begin to glimpse some of the drive and, probably obsession, of the mild seeming Michele.

“Yes, I’m crazy to produce so much,” he said during a sneak preview before the show, leading me from one sensory pile-up to the next. “But a creative person doesn’t always know where they’re going. You have to follow wherever your inspiration takes you.”

Michele’s inspiration tends to lead to dream-like interior monologues, with wildly commercial results. There was a jacket embroidered with the word Sissinghurst, the garden Vita Sackville-West created in Kent. He’s never been there, and doesn’t want to, in case it disappoints. “Sometimes it’s better just to travel in the mind,” he says.

The jacket worn – I think, by a male model - with a tartan kilt and an overgrown bowler hat is typical of the way Michele cross pollinates cultures and historical eras. So too is the gender ambiguity. Was that a titian bobbed girl or boy wearing a lavender velvet jacket and emerald green flared trousers? Who cares? While women have been happy to shop the men’s department for decades, increasingly, men are browsing in the women’s section.

Almost every taste is catered for in Gucci’s collections these days, including the deviant: chain mail masks, men in heels and scoop-fronted Lurex catsuits – Michele’s taste may seem sweet but it’s seasoned with subversion.

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