In one corner of Gucci’s afterparty for its Spring 22 runway show, Tyler, the Creator kneeled to the linoleum dancefloor and dropped his Gucci suitcase to the ground. At the bar stood Diane Keaton, wearing a coat from the Gucci-Balenciaga “hacking” and her signature Not-a-Regular-Mom hat. Olivia Wilde held court in the middle of the outdoor venue, not far off from Serena Williams. Elsewhere, Awkwafina and Natasha Lyonne snuck cigarettes. Everywhere you looked, you’d see another good explanation for Gucci designer Alessandro Michele planting his brand’s massive runway show in the center of Hollywood.
While Paris, Milan, and New York get all the credit for being the Fashion Capitals of the World, the currents of power in contemporary fashion run through Hollywood. We ogle celebrity style, whether they’re walking the red carpet or trying to evade the paparazzi hounding the Nobu parking lot. And fashion is increasingly the grist for our entertainment: American designer Halston was the subject of a Netflix show of the same name, Ryan Murphy took on The Assassination of Gianni Versace, and on the drive over to the show’s venue, I saw multiple billboards advertising the Lady Gaga and Adam Driver vehicle House of Gucci.
In that way, it was hard to tell where Gucci’s show began and ended. Where it began was easy enough to figure out: I put my butt in one of the director’s-chair style seats lined up along Hollywood Boulevard and waited for models to strut, glide, and saunter over Walk of Fame-turned-catwalk in front of me. (I sat in front of Daniel Radcliffe and Gig Young’s stars.) But the way that fashion operates now, where celebrities can make or break looks and fashion shows are as much pop culture phenomena as they are industry events, Gucci’s Hollywood fashion show was more like a complete production—from arrival to after party—with each bit bleeding into the others.
In a meta twist for the ages, Gwyneth Paltrow attended the show in a crimson red suit that mimicked the Tom Ford-era Gucci number she wore to the ‘96 VMAs. Michele remade it for the collection he showed in April of this year, which made it possible for Paltrow to dress as Paltrow just a few days after Halloween. That should give you a sense of how Michele thinks about all this: when many fashion fans hail the @NightOpenings Instagram account, which documents ‘90s Hollywood red carpets as the apex of fashion, he’s using the past to break new ground.
Michele professed his love for Hollywood in show notes presented in a manila evidence folder, dressed up in an LA noir theme. His mother worked as a production assistant and told him stories about her time in “that dream factory,” he wrote. “This boulevard of stars lends perfect support to my uncurbed love for the classical world. Hollywood is, after all, a Greek temple populated by pagan divinities.” The show and collection, accordingly, treated Hollywood like a kind of religion. He dressed the temple’s current gods in the stuff of old legend: the clothes were an homage to classic movies like Cleopatra, Carrie, Dinner at Eight, and even Ghostbusters and Ace Ventura. It was all modeled by friends of Gucci: Jared Leto, Macaulay Culkin, Phoebe Bridgers, Jodie-Turner Smith, Steve Lacy, and St. Vincent all walked in the show. A tribute to Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard involving many of current Hollywood’s central figures? Pure Gucci maximalism, baby!
The behemoth 115-look event captured every way of life in Los Angeles. “Definitely, I feel like they captured that vibe,” the skateboarder and Southern California resident Nyjah Huston, who wore heels and a floral suit that left his tattooed chest exposed, said when I asked if the collection felt LA enough. “And every other vibe, too.” A majority of those vibes made sure to put the Gucci spin on different Hollywood tropes: from early glam silent films and Spaghetti Westerns to the Los Angeles merch tourists might collect at the souvenir shop at LAX. Then there were looks that nodded at the city’s current uniform: leggings and running sneakers.
All of this was made possible by the changing tides in the fashion industry. At least for its biggest players. Gucci is now showing off-calendar—and all the way out west. A brand as popular and magnetic as Gucci can get away with that. The brand’s show is no longer one of dozens among a fashion-week calendar, but a massive event all on its own, and one that can use its powerful tractor beam to pull everyone to a city for just a single night. While other brands have been putting on their spring/summer 2022 shows, Gucci referred to this one exclusively as Love Parade. (In Los Angeles, there is only one season, anyway.) Those details don’t matter much to the crowd of people who stood just outside the show’s barricade—a mix of young kids in Camp High sweatshirts who’d clearly had this marked on their calendars and tourist-looking folks who’d seemingly stumbled upon the show and stuck around to see what the hullabaloo was all about. Only in Hollywood.
The show ended with one model trailing behind the crowd, her feathery, sparkling train dragging along Hollywood Boulevard. But as Michele clearly knows, the show must go on. The celeb-infested afterparty was just the next block over. And as the night rolled on, it was clear that Michele had found a natural home for his more-is-more aesthetic. While Hollywood Boulevard may be, as Michele writes, a “Greek Temple,” it is also home to off-brand Spider-Men and poorly dressed tourists. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a fashion show that situated me near both a Walgreens and a Baja Fresh. As the show let out, a man just outside the barricade held up a sign advertising $5 shirts and hoodies. “Don’t Pay More!” it advertised to the folks who’d just endured Los Angeles traffic to gawk thousand-dollar gowns and suits. As Michele keenly knows, in Hollywood, glamour and tackiness aren’t enemies—they’re two sides of the same coin.