Fashion News

There’s Something About Sabato

Models on runway for Gucci Spring/Summer 2024 collection

Looks from Sabato De Sarno’s Spring/Summer 24 Ancora collection, which the designer described as “completely free and filled with euphoria”

Portrait of Sabato De Sarno

Gucci Creative Director Sabato De Sarno

By Nick Remsen

Times have changed at the House of Gucci. At the start of last year, it was announced that the designer Sabato De Sarno was hired to be the label’s latest creative director. His appointment came in the wake of an exiting Alessandro Michele, who held the role for some seven years. Michele not only disrupted Gucci’s legacy, but the entire industry’s habits; he operated in a novel headspace of colorful whimsy and Pop curiosity. His Gucci was esoteric, and anything but subtle. De Sarno, in his three Ready-to-wear collections thus far (women’s Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter 2024, and men’s Fall/Winter 2024) and the most recent Cruise collection, has shifted the house’s course.

There is a streamlined confidence in what he has put on the runway so far–for example, long-flowing neckties for men, mini-shorts for women–that harkens back to former Creative Director Tom Ford’s era of emboldened sensuality, from 1994 to 2004. There’s a touch of the 1980s apparent in outsize jackets. And De Sarno features the mid-aughts supermodel Daria Werbowy in a new jewelry campaign at Los Angeles’s world-recognized Chateau Marmont hotel, resulting in deeply pleasing visuals that entice through their sun-kissed, Hollywood Gothic familiarity. The point: De Sarno is not reinventing the wheel. It is not the time to do so.

Yet he has keyed into the zeitgeist for things that are somehow both discreet and look-at-me; there is an omnipresent sense in designer fashion that the mood has needed to be scaled back, but that the resulting impression should be no less noticeable.

 

 

Female Model wearing a blue crystal embellished dress from Gucci’s spring/summer 24 collection runway show

Look 45 from the S/S 24 Collection

Female Model wearing a denim jacket with green skirt from Gucci’s spring/summer 24 collection runway show

Look 40 from S/S 24 Collection

 

It’s an interesting and somewhat contradictory line to toe; Michele intentionally overstepped it, and Gucci is never going to be quietly luxurious. Its bread and butter is not to cater to “stealth wealth.” De Sarno is finding his footing somewhere in the middle. One example: A men’s knit navy-blue sweater, understated on the exterior, and yet embellished with a wide boat collar that spills open to reveal hundreds of diamond-white crystals on the “inside.” It’s at once very regular and yet very irregular.

“I want to make things to use and wear, and not just things for shows or red carpets or editorials,” De Sarno told the New York Times in a profile in January.

It is an admirable if formidable challenge. Much noise has been made about fashion’s dissolution of creativity, with many collections having to weigh dollars over design. It seems that De Sarno is working on that, and in his freshman and sophomore outings, there are plenty of things that are wearable but also just a little bit unusual, which results in a nice friction and a desirable alchemy. Both qualities make the viewer think okay, this is something unique. Something I can only get here, with a perspective behind it. Other examples include leather gloves styled to be worn in the same color as leather satchel bags; tall platform Horsebit loafers; and tailoring with pre-sculpted creases on the sleeves and at the waist.

 

Gucci platform loafers in dark brown leather

Horesbit platform loafers

Gucci Jackie small shoulder bag in deep red leather

Jackie small shoulder bag

 

However, world-building generally takes time. This is another big talking point in fashion: Critics and watchdogs keep saying that the above-mentioned corporations need to give designers more time, more space, and more of a long leash to develop their oeuvres. To carve out their visions. It doesn’t happen in one or two collections. It might not even happen in ten collections. Without a doubt, De Sarno will be able to do so if given the space needed to achieve it. You can see it taking shape already, and his fashion accolades run deep; he, by all accounts, is a true designer’s designer.

The Campania, Italy–born creative started his career at Prada, moved to Dolce & Gabbana, and most recently (and for the past decade-plus) has worked for Valentino. There, he rose as high as fashion director, overseeing both women’s and men’s ready-to-wear collections. Valentino has enjoyed enormous success over the last 10 years–and when you think about it, the brand is super-wearable yet distinct. In turn, De Sarno has been tasked with reviving Gucci’s allure. Again, it circles back to: How can you actually be creative while maintaining enough relatability to generate big money?

De Sarno, with his lifelong resumé in Italian luxury fashion, appears to be someone who can do both.

 

Gucci Luce small shoulder bag with GG canvas logos in beige and ebony

Luce small shoulder bag

Gucci Signoria slingback pump in black patent leather

Signoria slingback pumps

 

De Sarno has enjoyed some celebrity attention, too, with his new designs. At the Golden Globe Awards in January, Taylor Swift wore a Gucci skinny-strapped floor-length column dress, embroidered with thousands of lime-green sequins. It wasn’t subtle, but the cut of the dress itself wasn’t overly complicated. And it was given a dash of sexiness with cutouts that extended briefly below the arms. Skin seems to be important to De Sarno, but rendered in a way that isn’t too on-the-nose. At the same show, Ryan Gosling wore a Gucci “pajama” suit–clean, simple, a little odd, a little suggestive. See the pattern?

There’s one more talking point that’s been percolating in the conversation, and which De Sarno seems to be considering: Longevity in clothes. In wardrobe permanence as opposed to ephemeral, Insta-ready one-offs. Michele, as imaginative as he was, created showstoppers–pieces that wowed but didn’t necessarily weather the test of time. To do so, collectively, the impression needs to be more versatile and perhaps less date-stamped. This doesn’t mean a design has to be plain. But it does require a certain dynamism; what can a designer imbue in their work in order to make something wearable over and over again?

 

Gucci GG Marmont thin belt in black leather

GG Marmont thin belt

Gucci gold marina chain bracelet

Marina chain bracelet

 

In De Sarno’s case, great floor-sweeping trench coats, fuss-free cardigans, and cylindrical duffle bags embossed with Gucci’s unmistakable typeface are his current winners. They feel timeless. They feel like you’ll be able to put them on again in thirty years and that they’ll give off the same chic assuredness. And they feel special, De Sarno’s confidence, sensuality, and intellect imbued in the threads and across the proportions. If he continues to tap into this sweet spot–and takes his time–Gucci has another hit on their hands.


@balharbourshops

follow us on instagram
The trench coat for any occasion that you’ll want to wear at every opportunity. Dolce & Gabbana’s timeless branded floral Cordonetto lace trench coat is oh-so easy to wear, yet so hard to want to take off. Make it a full look with the Italian house’s Sicily bag and teardrop pendant earrings.
Artisans in Madagascar and Milan each spend eight hours meticulously crafting each of the “Summer Tricks” charms that are designed to lend an individual touch to Prada’s line of summer bags—which the brand refers to as “crochet,” not raffia, because of the finely tuned nature of each design. Treat yourself to one today, at Prada at Bal Harbour Shops.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads, granddads, godfathers, and dogfathers out there. Should the handmade cards and French toast in bed not have landed the way everyone hoped this morning, head to the Shops today. Click the link in bio for our Father’s Day Gift Guide, full of easy-to-enjoy items at Bal Harbour Shops, such as these stunning watches from Hublot.