Newspaper article International New York Times

In the Studio: Alessandro Michele

Newspaper article International New York Times

In the Studio: Alessandro Michele

Article excerpt

The Gucci creative director takes Vanessa Friedman on a tour of his office.

ROMEIn Season 3 of our series that takes you behind the closed doors of the fashion world, Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, reveals why he thrives on chaos, how he got his guardian turtle and the hardest aspects of his new job. And that's just what didn't make it into the video. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Q.Is this building special?

A.It's a Renaissance building from a rich family. It's one of the few real palaces with Raphael as the architect. It's quite rare. Gucci took it when my predecessor, Frida Giannini, decided to move the creative office here from Milan. There are no business offices here. Marco Bizzarri, the chief executive, stays in Milan. It's nice to divide our work. This is just creative offices. Just crazy times.

Q. Did you consider renaming it Palazzo Gucci?

A. No, I don't think so.

Q. Is it strange to be in a city so far from the rest of the fashion industry?

A.But I like that. I spend a lot of time in Paris, in Milan and in New York, and Rome is a little bit different. There is something in Rome, incredible, like in a Fellini movie. Everybody's screaming and laughing very loud. It's something that can give me more energy, in terms of freedom. This is the area of the Rome that is for the bankers. On the other side of the river is the pope.

Q.How did you imagine your office?

A.If someone had told me, 'You will have an office painted from Raphael,' I mean, I didn't believe it. So I had the perception that I had to put something that I can match with this beauty. Because I love old things. But the first thing I brought in was my giant desk. It's a double desk. A square desk, so when you sit in front of me, you have the same space that I have on my side. I usually put a lot of books and things around me.

And there is also on the desk a turtle, a real turtle, from the 19th century. I bought it in one of the old bookshops in Rome. I was inside the bookstore one day and I thought that it was like a little saint that protects the books. So I said, it could be nice for my books to have a turtle.

Q.Did you bring the sofa and chairs, too?

A.Yes. it's a sofa that I quite love, because there is something very romantic in the idea that you can have a conversation on this sofa. When I have to work alone, to read, to design, or look at books, I stay at my desk. But if someone comes to talk with me, I don't want to stay in the desk, because it makes me feel too far away. And also because it makes me feel like I am a banker. So if I have to talk with someone, I stay on the sofa. And if I have to work with creative persons, we go to the big table, which is in another part of my office.

Q.It's like a giant dining room table.

A.I'm usually working with a lot of people. …

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