Unraveling the Archive: Gucci, Fall/Winter 1996
When Tom Ford took over the creative reins of Gucci in 1994, there was little hope for the Milanese fashion house. The Gucci's were akin to Italy’s first family, living lavish and glamorous lives in the public eye, but they were also surrounded by drama, never hesitant to scheme against and betray each other. The tension reached its pinnacle with the assassination of Maurizio Gucci in March 1995, the same month Tom Ford presented his Fall/Winter 1996 collection. Ford had been at Gucci since the beginning of the 1990s, but quickly became the key figure in the brand’s comeback strategy, orchestrated by Gucci’s then CEO Domenico De Sole. The pair were the most powerful duo in fashion, and responsible for bringing the iconic house back on track in the shortest amount of time.
Gucci's Fall/Winter 1996 collection was Tom Ford’s third outing at the helm of the house. With his first two collections, he gave Gucci a lewdness and provocative attitude, and for this one, he consolidated its hedonist vibe. The collection was sharp with pure lines, demonstrating Ford's powerful tailoring in a series of black suits. The collection also features silk blouses with plunging décolletages, long luxurious fur coats, and sexy body-hugging sweaters. A memorable segment of the show consisted of long white dresses—a tribute to Halston, America’s fashion king of the 1970s—each sexier than the previous one. Ford's fondness for the grace of the 70s made this a collection that's simultaneously minimal and extremely seductive.
The only touch of bright colour came with a scarlet red velvet suit stole the show. It was subsequently worn by Gwyneth Paltrow on the MTV 1996 Movie Award ceremony, remembered as one of the most iconic red-carpet moments of all time. Of this collection, Ford confessed in 2013 to Style.com that it was one of his favourites—and rightfully so. Tom Ford's tenure at Gucci led him to become one of the most influential designers of his generation.