gucci at Westminster abbey
Gucci Cruise 2017 was shown in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, the first fashion event to take place at the religious location John Phillips/ Getty

It was a controversial choice for Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele to show the brand's Cruise '17 collection in the 700-year-old church cloisters of the iconic Westminster Abbey but he had his heart set on the location.

Last night (2 June), his dream was brought to life as the fashion crowd nestled into the historical setting within the abbey awaiting a very different kind of procession to the priests, brides and funerals more accustomed to the space.

Whilst Dior's extravaganza at Blenheim Palace on 31 May was a loving homage to the brand's history, Michele's choice to hold the first fashion show in the abbey was a matter of personal obsession. Speaking to the Evening Standard he confessed his love for the building "Westminster is a piece of this city's energy, something the contemporary world has forgotten."

gucci at Westminster abbey
Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele chose Westminster Abbey as the location for Gucci's 2017 Cruise show John Phillips/ Getty

You could argue that Westminster had long been a catwalk for many years. It was not so long ago that the crowds were craning their necks for a peek of Kate Middleton's Alexander McQueen wedding dress that had been kept a closely-guarded secret ahead of her wedding to Prince William in April 2011 and of course The Emannuels' enormous creation for Princess Diana in July 1981 practically took up the entire aisle.

Michele's longing to bring catwalk fashion here certainly has its precedents but the abbey was also the location of Diana's funeral in 1997 and the scene of 16 royal weddings, including every coronation since William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066.

Whilst Westminster seemed happy to stage the event there were members of the church who were naysayers. Author and priest Reverend Peter Owen-Jones was vocal in his reservations stating: "It confuses what the Church is for.

"Is the central icon of Christianity there to offer spiritual sustenance and love or is it just part of the marketplace of capitalism?"

Gucci at Westminster Abbey
Rapper A$AP Rocky was among the Gucci clad guests at last night's show at the abbey John Phillips/ Getty

Nevertheless the show had to go on and the crowds arrived, head-to-toe in Michele's signature technicolour creations. Colours with which the designer has revived the brand's image since taking over in 2015. The likes of Alexa Chung and A$AP Rocky were draped in candy-coloured lace and bold motifs that shone out against the sombre grey stone of the abbey cloisters.

The show began in true meditative tone with the low hum of ecclesiastical music, a respectful choice given the location. The clothes however were not so conservative in keeping with the surroundings. Following on the heels of Dior, the Gucci Cruise collection was another rip-roaring dedication to all things British which ran all the way through the show right down to the beautifully detailed embroidered cushions provided for the guests.

In a romp through the history of fashion the collection presented everything from neat twin-sets in wild forest greens complete with forties headscarves that could have been taken straight from the Queen's archives to eccentric printed cropped flares layered under oversized logotastic nineties sweaters.

The most iconic inclusion was the bold union jack knit worn loosely over Balmoral-appropriate tartan that was given the Alessandro treatment with vast sequin applique detailing. King Charles Cavalier dogs also had their moment in the spotlight gracing the extravagent prints, as did wild kitten cartoons, Wedgewood-inspired florals not to mention the menagerie of panthers, owls and tigers that made their way onto intarsia knits and silk scarves alike. Needless to say, this is not a restrained collection.

Metallic kitten heels, printed silk courts and Louis XIV buckles were in all manner of jewel tones that mixed and matched with the vibrant clothing. All looked guaranteed to sell out come November, when the collections hit the shops.

From vintage embroidery to natty lace cardigans, Michele has mastered the art of reviving the past in his designs, these pieces are both brand new but also comfortable and familiar.

Click through to see our favourite looks from Gucci Cruise '17...

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