May 1968 Revisited

Liberté, Egalité, Sexualité – this was the slogan setting Paris streets on fire from May to June 1968, when French students began the biggest revolution their country had witnessed since the 18th century.

What started as a philosopical protest against capitalism and to gain more sexual freedom soon expanded into a socio-political revolt involving workers too.

Although the protest didn’t lead to any political success, actually resulting in president De Gaulle’s re-election, it was culturally successful. That’s the French way, after all.

The facts of May ’68 represented to France what Swinging London had been to England.

Students might not have been moved by the highest political ideals, but their actions created a model for protests to come for their huge impact on the government’s stability – De Gaulle even fled the country during the riots.
Because of their youthful zeal and aspiration to shake the establishment, students also became a source of inspiration in the cultural world.

Fast forward 50 years to Milan and the student riots have been given a new life by Gucci’s mastermind Alessandro Michele.

Dans la Rue (meaning In the Street) is the name for the brand’s pre-fall 2018 collection

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The campaign was launched with a short film – inspired by the work of Nouvelle Vague’s directors Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut – of students occupying lecture theatres and running down the streets of Paris spray-painting slogans on the walls. Among these is Liberté, Egalité, Sexualité, whose sexual playfulness and ambition for freedom inspired stylist Michele.

Other clips posted on the brand’s Instagram account showed students passing themselves cheat sheets with slogans like Re(belle) Re(belle) – a play on a call to revolt and a compliment.

The campaign captures both Michele’s widespread cultural knowledge and love for 1960s and 1970s aesthetics, already widely shown in other collections.

Men’s outfits borrow inspiration from late ‘60s ivy clobber. Well-pressed checked trousers, V-neck knitwear and shirt-tie combinations are given crossgenerational full fashion credibility – especially in days of dominant informality in students’ wardrobes.

Women’s are given a more psychedelic and bohemian touch tyical of the Paris Latin Quarter.

Headbands, flowery patterns and Michele’s Gucci trademark embroidery are a statement to revolting in style.

Just like May ’68 Michele’s Gucci is making youths feel like protagonists again. Michele brought the enthusiasm for fashion back to the streets, where it belongs and where its history has been made.

Obviously Gucci still remains an exclusive luxury brand far from students’ pockets, but its impact on contemporary popular culture is valuable.

Surely Michele’s Gucci won’t change society as a whole, but it will leave its cultural mark, writing a new page of fashion history.

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