(Milan) The new artistic director of Gucci, Sabato de Sarno, unveiled on Friday in Milan a men’s collection combining sophisticated elegance and fantasy, his first for the iconic label which is seeking to revive its sales.

This 40-year-old Neapolitan designer has given the classic gentleman’s wardrobe a playful twist, adding touches of eccentricity like sparkling necklaces and sequinned tank tops.

Gucci thus opened the Men’s Fashion Week ball in the Lombard capital which offers a total of 74 events until Tuesday, including 27 fashion shows and 32 presentations.

In a minimalist setting, the models wandered inside a huge hangar of the former Carlo Macchi foundry on the northern outskirts of Milan.

Ultra-long ties skimming the thigh are worn, like scarves, on fitted or loose double-breasted suits, or even on a bare torso for the more daring, a daring choice for a collection designed for fall-winter 2024/25.

“It’s a story of joie de vivre, passion, humanity, people, real life, irreverent glamour, provocation, confidence, simplicity, feelings and immediate emotions,” writes the stylist in a note commenting on his collection.

Just like his first women’s collection for Gucci, presented in September, the one dedicated to men is entitled Ancora (Encore), named after an old hit by Italian star Mina.

The color palette is rather sober, ranging from gray to royal blue, from black to white, including burgundy red and olive green, thus using shades also used for the women’s collection.

Sabato De Sarno, who spent fourteen years at Valentino after a stint at Prada and Dolce

While that collection has only been on sale since early 2024, Gucci, which accounts for more than half of Kering’s sales, saw revenue fall 13% in the third quarter amid a slowing luxury market.

“Gucci is in a transition phase. Alessandro Michele’s creative reinvention yielded excellent results, but customers eventually “got tired of it,” Luca Solca, an analyst at Bernstein, told AFP.

“Today, Gucci must find new energy and new ideas to excite consumers,” he notes.

And when are the first effects of the arrival of the new stylist expected on sales?

“The transition from the maximalism of Alessandro Michele to the ‘bon chic, bon genre’ of Sabato De Sarno seemed a little abrupt to me,” said Mr. Solca, referring to the designer’s first women’s collection for Gucci.

“Gucci works when it’s excessive. As we saw with Tom Ford”, one of its former emblematic stylists, “and his communication very loaded with sensual allusions, or with Alessandro Michele, with the explosion of creativity which doubled the sales of the brand,” explains the expert.

Armani, Prada, Dolce

Men’s fashion “was relegated to second place for years. But today it is growing, notably because big brands are paying much more attention to it,” summarizes Luca Solca.

After a strong rebound of 20.3% in 2022, following the coronavirus pandemic, the Italian men’s fashion industry recorded more modest growth in 2023, of 4.9%.

The entire Italian fashion sector saw its turnover increase by 4% last year. After a strong first quarter, its activity plunged by 7.2% in September, in a context of strong geopolitical tensions.

“These are not years of frenetic growth, but at this moment it is important to hold on and we will hold on,” assured Carlo Capasa, the president of the Chamber of Italian Fashion.