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Sabato De Sarno insists he feels free to follow his own heart in shaping the new direction of Gucci — whatever opinion critics may have — and he believes many “are clamoring for novelty while at the same time are wary of major changes,” he said during a preview with WWD.

His confidence in his personal vision was reflected in his first men’s collection shown on Friday in Milan, which was aptly dubbed “mirroring” — as he reiterated his passion for words and artists that use words. This particular one was chosen because the men’s lineup mirrored his first women’s collection for Gucci shown last September “in a continuation and confirmation” of his previous choices, he said. The collections “are thought together” but coed shows are not an option at the moment. “I like dedicated moments for each” and choosing to launch many new faces on the runway, in “life-changing opportunities for the models,” the designer said.

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The soundtrack and lighting at the location — although a different one from September — also contributed to this sense of mirroring with “Late night feeling” featuring Lykke Li and Mina’s “Ancora, ancora, ancora,” both arranged by Mark Ronson, with the addition of “Masculinity,” from French artist Lucky Love.

Examples of the continuum De Sarno championed were denim jeans worn under knits embroidered with crystals, and the luxurious leather jackets worn over minis by women and over short shorts by men, or the reptile car coats.  Where women donned platform loafers, his men wore sturdy creepers.

The embroideries taken from Gucci’s 1950s clutches that inspired crosshatch crystal-covered baby-doll dresses were mirrored for men in artisanal, intricately crafted tank tops. Ditto for the fringed coats — after all, De Sarno likes to think of the Gucci man as “irreverent.” Snap hooks completed the looks on trenches that grazed the floor or silk scarves. But there was no trace of punk nostalgia, as this collection was mainly about sleek and luxurious designs, exemplified by the sartorial suits in two silhouettes, slim and close-fitting, paired with cropped trousers, occasionally with zipped side slits, or more relaxed and softer.

The devil is in the details, as double-breasted buttons were hidden in the sophisticated wool suits that showed lapels with intarsia piping in the same colors as the shirts worn underneath.

De Sarno is mindful of the brand’s core accessories business and offered a plethora of Jackie bags, also supersized, as were the totes and backpacks, the latter a personal favorite of the designer.

He introduced a new blurred GG monogram, slightly offset with a drop shadow to create a sense of 3D dimension shown in an allover motif on suits, slim scarves and bags in the new deep Rosso Ancora house color, brown or gray.

The Marina Chain jewelry from the late 1960s, captured by photographer David Sims in the Daria Werbowy preview last summer, was presented in silver — a strong statement necklace for men, too.

The red-and-green Gucci stripes peeked out of a back slit of a pea coat that was directly inspired by a Robert Redford photo on De Sarno’s mood board, most likely from the 1975 film “Three Days of the Condor” — it was cool then and remains a must-have today.

De Sarno confessed his dislike for cryptic messages and conceptualizing clothes. “It’s important to have a point of view, but everyone must be able to understand it,” he said.

With this collection, he stood by his words. So far his message has been appealing to his new high-profile friends, from Julia Garner to Taylor Swift, who both donned striking designs at the Golden Globes. As part of his mandate, De Sarno is meant to further elevate the luxury component of the collections, and in this he appears to be succeeding, and responding to a customer who is increasingly requesting timeless and high-quality artisanal products.

He is certainly ticking all the right boxes, with dad cardigans embellished with crystals, extra-long coats and tailored suits, so it will be interesting to see how his message translates into sales.

For more MFW reviews, click here.

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