You might not expect the set of a fashion show to be inspired by an ancient map of Italy. More specifically, the sketched peaks of the Sabine Hills, where it was believed that the Roman poet Horace had a country house. But then again, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele is a creative director whose frames of references defy expectations.

The Italian house kicked off Milan Fashion Week with one of the most anticipated spring/summer 2018 shows, held at the gucci-hub-milan" target="_self">Piuarch-designed Gucci Hub on the outskirts of Milan. Here, Gucci’s jaw-dropping S/S 2018 show space took three weeks to assemble (it will also take ten days to dismantle). Before the show began, Wallpaper* stepped exclusively into the empty space for a closer inspection.

The set design blended a medley of references, from the crumbling Roman ruins of the Imperial Fora, to the map location of Horace’s countryside retreat. Horace wrote that the area around the River Tiber was the greatest on earth, and this water source was represented by a graphic blue catwalk surrounded by spectrums of colourful seating. Michele’s cartographic style was also one inspired by the Milan metro’s wayfinding system, echoed in the show space with angular yellow and white graphics. Continuing the commuter theme, seating allocations were printed on small cards printed with barcodes resembling train tickets.

Michele – who took the helm of the house in January 2015 – is known for his encyclopaedic range of references. To wit, Gucci’s S/S 2018 collection focused on the importance of resisting classification. The men’s and women’s looks were suitably eclectic, referencing everything from the seventies to medieval and monastic garb, tailoring to baseball uniforms.

Similarly, the designer populated his modern reworking of the ancient map with 37 category-defying arches, pillars and statues. There were awe-inspiring Roman deities, a smiling Chinese Buddha, ancient columns, a scalloped Indian arch, carved Pharaoh’s and even an Egyptian mummy. Gucci unfolded a time-traveller’s tourist map, complete with must-see points of historical interest. It represented a poetic map, signposted with the intellectual markings of humankind that we’d pore over and over again.

RELATED TOPICS: GUCCI, ITALIAN DESIGN