Upon hearing the news of Alessandro Michele’s departure from Gucci last month, the fashion world has been plunged into a frenzy. We’re collectively wondering – how can the Italian house continue without the fashion icon who established so many of the label’s modern signatures we’ve come to know and love?
Since taking the helm as Creative Director in 2015, Michele has been instrumental in Gucci’s climb to the top of the luxury fashion brand ranking. By utilizing social media, the power of celebrity, and the house’s classic style codes, Michele imbued cult appeal into the label’s designs.
Michele’s avant-garde runway shows and statement-making designs quickly became a staple of the house’s new identity. From 70s galore and boho chic to the much-anticipated logomania revival of the late 2010s, under Michele, Gucci became the house that the industry looked to for fun, inspiration, and innovation.
And, of course, Michele introduced a new cohort of Gucci bags under his reign, many of which have become ‘It’ bags and certified house classics despite all being less than a decade old. So, let’s look at the fashion visionary’s most memorable bag designs over his seven-year tenure at the house.
Launched in 2015, the Gucci Dionysus was the label’s first major handbag success story in some time, and, for many, the design signaled the start of Gucci’s golden age under Michele.
Sculpted to a structured, boxy silhouette, the bag sports a thick chain perfect for both shoulder carry and cross-body wear. It features horseshoe hardware detail complete with tiger head engravings inspired by the Greek God Dionysus for a new take on Gucci’s equestrian roots.
Its statement hardware and versatility soon made the Dionysus a fan favorite at Gucci. The bag became popular in a range of logo canvas and leather iterations. Despite its quick rise to cult appeal, it has remained popular season after season and earned classic status.
Michele introduced Gucci’s arguably most classic modern design in 2016 when he debuted the Marmont line. Typified by soft quilted stitching and a reworking of the GG logo insignia first conceptualized in the 1970s, Marmont bags have become easy-to-wear classics.
Gucci’s Marmont shoulder bag sporting a functional flap opening is undoubtedly the most popular Marmont style. But, eager to capitalize on the success of his creation, Michele continued to expand the line, releasing camera, half-moon shaped, bucket, and top handle bag variations throughout his time at Gucci.
The range is most commonly spotted in ultra smooth matelassé chevron leather but returns season after season in wool, tweed, monogrammed canvas, and more.
A big part of taking over a fashion house with an esteemed heritage like Gucci’s is paying homage to its roots. Michele understood this. Case in point – the Horsebit 1955 revival. First brought back as part of Gucci’s Cruise 2020 collection, the line centers around the famous horse-bit buckle, which serves as an emblematic ode to the brand’s equestrian heritage.
The curved square shoulder bag with a thick leather strap is the most notable and versatile design from the line, while structured top-handle iterations channel Gucci’s fan-favorite retro styles like the Bamboo and Sylvie. Michele’s reimagining of the Horsebit 1955 line has helped consolidate Gucci’s association with retro style, and many other labels have followed suit, reissuing their most iconic vintage handbags.
You’d be forgiven for assuming Gucci’s Ophidia collection houses the label’s most treasured vintage designs. But the popular line is in fact the brainchild of Michele as part of his Cruise 2018 collection for the house. Focusing on the brand’s heritage design elements like the red and green Web stripe, the emblematic Supreme print, and the interlocking GG insignia, the Ophidia range showcases Michele’s penchant for retro-inspired designs.
From round shoulder bags and top-handle styles to bucket bags, backpacks, and duffles, the Ophidia line has become a mainstay in Gucci’s handbag offering. Michele has routinely used the collection’s bestsellers, like the dome shoulder bag and messenger style, as blank canvases to experiment with limited edition themes as well as new prints and colorways.