June 28, 2004
Whatever size they may be in reality, Tom Ford's shoes are symbolically huge to fill. So John Ray, the new creative director of menswear at Gucci, took the sensible route: honor the archive, respect the self. To that end, he zeroed in on a period of Gucci's past that dovetailed neatly with his own predilection for louche London life. It wasn't exactly the first time Gucci has revived the rich-hippie look, but Ray added a moneyed, aristocratic edge that suggested Paul and Talitha Getty partying with Mick Jagger and Christopher Gibbs in Marrakesh in the heady late sixties. The heavily embroidered tops that opened the show were bedecked with beads and coins, just the sort of thing haute bohemians acquired on the renowned hippie trail to remind themselves of the joy of travel; ditto the chiffon djellabas that closed the show. The butterfly-print shirts and evening brocades amplified that theme, but Ray was careful to ground his decorative excesses with beautifully cut half-belted jackets, white trousers, and gorgeous Gucci croc loafers and totes. At the start of his new journey into the heart of Gucci, Ray seems to have his bearings firmly in place.