Everything about Gucci is over-the-top these days, beginning with the brand’s more-is-more aesthetic that’s to thank (blame?) for the onslaught of embroidered, embellished, and appliquéd menswear on store racks these days (a bomber jacket isn’t worth having if it doesn’t have a dragon on it, right?). Of course, the man pulling the strings behind-the-scenes at the Italian house is philosopher-designer Alessandro Michele. His menswear universe is one where spaceships motifs and wallpaper florals can peacefully coexist and, somehow, actually look good too. It’s a world as crazy as the sky-high prices people are eagerly paying for Michele’s luxury wares; the opening price for a sweatshirt hovers around a cool grand and a grosgrain ribbon necktie will set you back more than a Benjamin. But those categories are bargains compared to the brand’s exorbitant outerwear, particularly this studded leather biker jacket from Michele’s Cruise 2017 collection that will set you back a mean $18,650.
Pricey? For sure. But not without reason.
Strip away every stud, chain, and zipper and what you’ll find is a jacket inspired by London’s punk scene that’s made from top-notch tanned Italian calfskin that’s been given a pigment finishing, which renders its appearance as black. (Look closely and you can see that there are bits of the original brown leather peeking through.) That quality foundation, which is lined in soft red-and-black checkered cotton, is what ensures Gucci’s artisans can poke, pierce, and fulfill Michele’s vision; a lesser hide just wouldn’t hold up.
The badass biker is constructed in a Gucci atelier that specializes in leather goods, and it’s here that the jacket begins its forty-hour journey to completion. A lot of that time is spent by skilled craftspeople applying the 2,400 studs by hand, one by one, to the jacket in a mix of geometric and organic patterns. And since this is a Michele-designed Gucci piece with every detail painstakingly considered, there are actually eighteen different types of studs used, finished six different ways, and accessorized with two different types of chains. And then there are extra finishes, like the Gucci logo zippers and snap buttons that hold down the jacket’s lapels and collar, or the skull ornament that’s placed just under the right shoulder, that separate this jacket even further from any other out there today.
“His clothes are like the unicorn tapestries at the Cloisters,” writer Zach Baron wrote of of Michele and his new, revivified Gucci aesthetic—the one that has taken the rarely-impressed fashion world by storm. “They’re like Jeff Koons sculptures minus the soul-deadening cynicism. They’re bright and generous and on some seductive level suggest that dressing well is easy—just put on this emerald green bomber jacket, this T-shirt with a “Peanuts” character on it, these embroidered jeans with green vines snaking up the sides, and you will somehow look…normal, which is unlikely enough, but also special. Like yourself but better.”
While some designers are all about taste and commerce, Michele has instead favored romance and emotion — how else can you explain his insane flights of fancy and then how those preposterous designs have led to a double-digit sales increase at the brand.
After all, logic doesn’t lead to someone buying a five-figure leather jacket.
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