“I’m happy I was born as a hybrid,” said Michele backstage, referring to his bizarre “supernatural” mash-up. “The surgical set represented the way we change ourselves, our physicality and the idea of possibility. Clothes just help us become who we want to be.”
I was reminded of the film director Guillermo del Toro and his mythical aquaman film The Shape of Water. The show and the film had much in common, and del Toro is similarly preoccupied with the theme of transformation. “When people tell me... the stories I dream are impossible, I think of [Mary Shelley],” said the film-maker in his winning Bafta speech on Sunday. “She gave voice to the voiceless, and presence to the invisible, and showed me that, sometimes, to talk about monsters, we need to fabricate monsters of our own.”
Here Michele had literally fabricated a monster. He, too, has a Frankenstein fixation, and believes in monsters and mythical beasts to show our true selves. “We are all the Dr Frankenstein of our lives,” said Michele. “We work in the lab in our heads.” For Michele, clothes are the agents of transformation of ourselves. The things that allow us “to become”.
Such a point of view is not everyone’s cup of tea. It certainly sounds quite bonkers. But third eyes and supernatural details are all hot topics for the Game of Thrones generation. They love an ancient talismanic prop to wear with their Gucci sneakers.
Perhaps Michele’s tremendous commercial success has been in his refusal to be seen as a clothes-maker. “I plunge into the history of clothing. I love clothes. But my urge is to create something more powerful than fashion. A skirt is not enough.”