Mr. Michele, who calls himself “a passionate student of antique jewelry,” has resurrected animalier styles, like those of the midcentury American jewelry designer David Webb, and for this new collection he has employed some vintage techniques like the intricate hand engraving used to create the animals’ faces, skipping the rhodium plating now common on white gold so it retains a yellowish cast, and the use of old-fashioned raised settings for the tiny diamonds spangled across the fishtail of a ring.
“When you see the way I combine things with each other, you perceive everything together as a new language,” he said, referring to his fashion aesthetic that mashes up the animal motifs with Chinese silks and Mexican embroideries, Renaissance gowns, Victoriana, disco drama, high ’80s glam, shades of Elton John and Dapper Dan, and more. “There’s a complete fusion of ideas. This ‘disruption’ that everyone’s talking about is found in the dialogue between these elements.”
From the new collection, Marco Bizzarri, the chief executive of Gucci, wears a woven gold bracelet with black diamonds that is embossed with the phrase “Blind for Love” in capital letters across the top. Mr. Michele himself has a gold ring with a fox’s head, a large brown diamond set between its ears. Though the pieces look like styles that, in their antique forms, were made for women, in the Gucci context, anyone can wear them.
“Clothes, like jewelry, don’t have very revolutionary roots, meaning that what’s revolutionary is the way you wear a piece of jewelry,” the designer said.
So far the collection, with prices that mostly range from 15,000 euros to 70,000 euros ($17,900 to $83,500), has been offered only to favorite clients through private sales in Japan, China and the United States and private appointments that began in July.
Gucci refers to the pieces, which are not high jewelry (typically starting in the $100,000 range and going into the millions), as “medium-high,” or as “unique pieces” when it repeats designs using different gems. However, the brand says it is considering a move into the bigger stones and larger price tags of true high jewelry for its next collection.