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“I always want to be authentic”

The Gucci menswear show of January 2015 marked the ascendance of Alessandro Michele to the role of Creative Director at the house. A Roman and a 13-year veteran of the firm, steeped in its history, Michele took the reins at Gucci with a clear vision for what he wanted to achieve. That vision, now famously established, and perfectly expressed in the Love Parade collection he has created for this spring/summer, is one of Romantic eclecticism, and it has undoubtedly excited people’s desire for character and individualism in dress. This approach has unquestionably engaged a new generation, hungry for a means of celebrating creativity and its sense of self.

And Jude Bellingham is part of that generation. One that believes passionately in self-expression. “I always want to be authentic,” explains the footballer. “My interviews might have got me in trouble a couple of times this season already, but I feel like it’s always me talking, it’s never my ‘brand’ or the way I feel I should be speaking in terms of what other people think. So it’s always myself, whether it’s on the pitch, the way I act, or off the pitch. I know that I’m a respectful person, so I just try to be true to myself.”

So when Jude got to the Savoy for the Gucci shoot for SWM he had some idea of what to expect. What are his memories of the day? Was it fun? “I loved it, to be honest. With a shoot it’s always a new experience, and I think that’s the thing that I love the most. Obviously I’ve not done loads, I’ve done a few [shoots] in the past. But when the experience is still new and I get to try on clothes, and you’ve got all these people working so hard and being so friendly to try and help you and make sure that you’re looking your best, but also feeling your best – it’s just a really fun day.” As he says: “You’re trying on top clothes from a top brand, and you get to be yourself with it and have a laugh in the meantime, so yeah, it was really good.”

This really was a first, he explains: “I’ve done stuff for my sponsors and my brand partners in the past, but nothing for a brand like Gucci. So it was a real pleasure for me. And as well as the pleasure I got from putting on the clothes, it was as much a pleasure to meet the staff and meet everyone who was working on it as well, because they were brilliant with me and they made me feel so at home in the outfits.”

But he does admit to a few nerves. “On the way there, you’re thinking, ‘Am I going to wear it how they want it to be worn?’ Because they have a vision, of course, and you’re thinking, ‘Am I going to live up to the vision?’ But when I got there they just made me feel so comfortable.”

The shoot was designed to make use of the different locations on offer at the famous late 19th-century Grade II listed building. The Savoy is, incidentally, the only five- star hotel on the Thames. So what was the young footballer’s favourite thing about the experience? “The work the team put in to make me look good was really good on the day. Obviously I’ve just turned up, looked into the camera and put on the stuff. But the way they organised the outfits and the rooms in which they decided to place me in for certain outfits was really clever. And I think that was my favourite thing about the shoot – how each outfit matched the vibe of the room and then the vibe of the pictures that we were trying to capture; that for me was the best thing.” He gives the example of the shot in which he wears a striped Gucci tracksuit, sitting by a table with a white tablecloth and white-and-green decorated tea set on it: “The one with the tracksuit is more chilled, with the cup of tea.”

Location : The Savoy, London Photographer: Matt Gordon Groomer: Nat Bury Fashion Director: Elgar Johnson All clothing and accessories by Gucci

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