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Gucci’s new creative director is Sabato De Sarno. When his appointment was announced last month, the brand said his first collection would be spring 2024. That gave the Gucci studio the job of designing this in-between season, sandwiched in the middle of Alessandro Michele’s Twinsburg sign-off and De Sarno’s opening salvo.

The Gucci hub had been stripped down to puce green carpeting and burgundy banquettes for the occasion. In the middle were two sunken circles—the show notes said they “represented the collaborative circularity at the heart of Gucci’s creative community”; my seatmate called them influencer pits because they were filled with social media machers. The outer ring is where the celebrities sat: Dakota Johnson, A$AP Rocky, the Maneskin foursome, Florence Welch, and Julia Garner among them. Outside on the Via Mecenate, the crowd whooped for Chinese singer and actor Xiao Zhan; he was perched next to Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri.

Like the men’s show that preceded it in January, the collection jumped this way and that, from the ’90s slimline tailoring of Tom Ford’s Gucci era to more eccentric stylings in the spirit of Michele. Both designers are part of the house’s heritage now, but Ford and Michele became famous by never doing anything halfway. Parenthetical collections like this one tend to be more noncommittal.

There were a lot of ideas here, all jumbled together: heart-shaped faux-fur collars on coats and heart-shaped panniers on party dresses; crystal-trimmed portholes on a black shift and slip dresses constructed from see-through sequins; high-drama faux-fur chubbies and low-key boyfriend jeans and button-downs. And on the accessories front: oversized double-G buckles, a horse-bit handbag revived from 2003, metal spike heels about half as high as their ’90s progenitors, and a couple pairs of mukluks. The casting told a story about heritage too. Amy Wesson, Guinevere Van Seenus, and Liisa Winkler all walked vintage Tom Ford runways. To this writer’s eye, it was Winkler’s ’90s-ish, neatly cut double-breasted coat that rose above the fray. It could prove a useful starting point if Gucci does opt for a more classic, “no-season” approach going forward, as seems to be the trend in fashion at the moment.

At the end of the show, design team members by the dozen emerged from three banks of elevators to take a group bow. The point was made: Gucci is far more than whomever occupies the creative director seat. Still, it’s a crucial role, the instinctive force that stitches a collection into a unified whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Just what De Sarno will add to Gucci’s creative legacy we’ll discover in September.