Gucci's new creative director Sabato De Sarno sent out a glamorous, skin-baring lineup of minimalist designs for his first fashion show on Friday, a highly anticipated debut which owner Kering hopes will help revive sales at its flagship brand.
Models filed down a darkened, concrete runway at the label's Milan headquarters, a former aircraft factory, parading short shorts paired with suit jackets, jewel-encrusted garments and tank tops with plunging neck lines.
Friday's catwalk presentation serves as the aesthetic foundation of a broad reset of the French group's prized label -- key to creating buzz and reigniting sales, even if the new designs won't hit stores until early next year. "Gucci is the opportunity to fall in love with fashion, ancora," De Sarno said in a post on Instagram in the run-up to the show, using the Italian word for "again."
The brand plastered the word "ancora" on huge advertisements that marked the date of the show, alongside the Gucci logo -- in white lettering, on a burgundy backdrop -- covering buildings around the world, including New York, Chengdu, Bangkok and London.
Adding to the drama of De Sarno's debut on Friday, a forecast of rain prompted a last-minute shift of the show venue to the Milan headquarters rather than outdoors, on the street in the swanky Brera district.
Debut collections can generate mixed reactions, and even positive press reviews are not always a proxy for their future commercial success. However, the fashion show will "definitely impact investors' perception of De Sarno's capacity to trigger an inflexion in Gucci's aesthetics," said Antoine Belge, analyst with Exane BNP Paribas.
"The climax is not for right away -- it's sometimes the second or third shows that are the most important," Kering CEO and Chairman Francois-Henri Pinault told reporters before the event began, before greeting front-row guest Ryan Gosling.
One of fashion's biggest success stories in recent years, Gucci has fallen behind rivals like LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton and Dior that capitalized on strong post-pandemic appetite for luxury goods.
Since parting ways in November with its previous creative director Alessandro Michele, whose eclectic, gender neutral styles were credited with soaring sales and profits in the 2015-2019 period, the group has been laying the groundwork for the brand reset with more elevated and timeless looks.
Gucci's long-time CEO Marco Bizzarri is due to leave the company after the show, as announced in July, to be replaced by managing director Jean-Francois Palus - Pinault's right-hand man - for a transitional period.
Kering shares were up 3.9% after the show.
At their current price, Kering shares are trading at the equivalent of around 14 times expected earnings over the next 12 months, according to LSEG data. That forward PE compares to 42 for Hermes and 22 for Moncler.