Gucci’s Creative Pivot Shakes Up Milan Fashion Week with Unexpected Boldness

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In an atmosphere humming with anticipation and saturated with the electricity of change, the creative whirlwind playing out among Italy’s top fashion houses could be keenly felt, most predominantly on the pulsating and always vigilant stages of social media.

Monday saw the attention of the fashion world fixed on Milan’s prestigious catwalk, irrevocably drawn to Gucci and their new figurehead, creative mastermind Sabato De Sarno. In what was his third fashion collection as a representative of the fashion giant, the spotlight remained firmly on his innovation and interpretation of Gucci’s signature style, a beacon of hope and change in the fast-paced and ever-changing world of fashion.

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In a move that added further tension to an already fraught space, Rome-based Valentino (owned by the same conglomerate that owns Gucci) released images on social media within merely hours of the Milan ceremony. The images, showcasing Alessandro Michele’s debut resort collection under Valentino, bore an uncanny familiarity to Michele’s previous work at Gucci, sparking a flurry of speculation and unsolicited commentary.

The intertwined relationships of these fashion powerhouses could resemble an elaborate soap opera. Gucci belongs to the French conglomerate Kering, who possesses a significant (but not controlling) 30-percent stake in Valentino. Adding more spice to this intriguing mix is the fact that De Sarno, now Gucci’s creative director, is a Valentino alum. His recent resort collection included a distinctive pussy bow, an unmistakable gesture to Michele’s influence at Gucci.

True fashion enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting Michele’s catwalk debut for Valentino, with the September womenswear previews in Paris poised to hold all eyes captive.

The final day of Milan Fashion Week – dedicated to menswear previews for Spring-Summer 2025 – was the perfect backdrop to highlight the new direction of Gucci under De Sarno. His collection was an explosion of precise silhouettes draped in bold, striking colors. The sight of a model adorning an acid-green bonded leather coat, set against bare thighs and a netted shirt, set the tone for the audacious, boundary-pushing aesthetic he favors.

De Sarno’s commitment to breaking free from the established norms was further illustrated when he invited 400 eager fashion students to the show. In his mission to make high fashion more accessible, he chose venues that veer from the sprawling Gucci Hub on the fringes of Milan, in favor of spaces that echo the energy and dynamism of Italy’s fashion capital.

The blockbuster Gucci show was not the only highlight of the day. Pioneering designer Giorgio Armani showcased his mastery of relaxed tailoring with a collection that seamlessly linked the heritage of his 49-year-old fashion empire with modern, innovative twists.

Fashion’s living legend, Armani turns 90 next month but remains active at the center of his fashion group, since launching it in 1975. His steadfast dedication to his craft was evident during his show, where he personally shared the limelight with long-time right-hand-man Leo Dell’Orco and Gianluca Dell’Orco, the heads of the men’s style offices.

Among the key players in the sea of fashion aficionados, was Academy award-winning actor Russell Crowe, who bore witness to the creative ascendency happening at Armani’s Milan theatre. He was seen closely following the runway, undoubtedly keeping an eye out for the next trend that blends fashion and comfort, a trend he could directly take back to Hollywood.

High stakes, bold moves and an array of breathtaking designs – this was the landscape of Italian fashion, painted with the broad brush strokes of creative genius and the attention to detail that this multi-billion-dollar industry commands.