For Gucci’s 100-Year Anniversary, Creative Director Alessandro Michele took us through a mind-blowing short-film, with clothing transitioning from a ritzy nightclub to a sublime wildlife sanctuary
Text by: Josephine Giachero
“Here we are then, ready to celebrate, wearing our most glittering clothes. Preparations for the event are in full swing,” stated publicly Alessandro Michele, who now marks an over six-year tenure as Gucci’s revolutionary Creative Director. The centenary show opened with a stylish young man dressed in the emblematic velvet red suit that is instantly synonymous with the genius of Tom Ford, Michele’s predecessor at Gucci, designed by him in the ‘90s. “Crossing this threshold, I have plundered the nonconformist rigour of Demna Gvasalia and the sexual tension of Tom Ford,” disclosed the Italian designer on Gucci’s official Twitter. “I have lingered over the anthropological implications of what shines, working on the brightness of fabrics,” he said of the rationale behind the execution of the collection.
Subsequently, the model was filmed swaggering his way into the entrance of the Savoy Club, (the eponymous Hotel in London where founder Guccio Gucci worked as an elevator attendant) with sunglasses and the house’s signature horsebit loafers on his feet, hopping over puddles that mirrored traffic lights on a late night somewhere in a cosmopolitan neighbourhood. As he squeezed his eyes into the club’s fish-eye peephole, he saw stunning white peacocks in a green forest rather than a DJ or people dancing. The late rapper Lil Peep’s song Gucci Gang played loudly, abruptly broke the dreamy image, and the show began. This vision was perfectly described in a statement Michele shared on social media: “We get into a club, neon lights and cameras, but we find out that the party we deserve does not happen in the lobby of a London hotel of the ‘20s: it is rather like a deep and ecstatic diving in everything we yearningly miss today: a feast of air.”
Aria in Italian means air, a symbol from which Michele drew poetic inspiration: “I therefore celebrate the air as a sacred principle of interpenetration, blending, and connection: a principle of existence infused with the chemical enchantment of the leaves.” A quote that is of particular sentimental value to the dressmaker, is the one of philosopher Emanuele Coccia who wrote that “inhaling, that is letting the world get inside us, and exhaling, that is projecting ourselves in the world that we are.”
Prior to the show, guests were given details about the “Gucci Aria” collection by some Gucci-themed riddles. An “ironic and unorthodox” invitation which suits their eccentric style perfectly. A small book named GUCCIQUIZ! Was designed by the house, which contained brain-teasers, puzzles, and crosswords that paid tribute to its heritage. The dedicated film that was live-streamed on Gucci’s official website, was co-directed by Michele and multi-disciplinary artist and videographer Floria Sigismondi, who had already collaborated with the House on several occasions; including the Gucci Gift Giving Campaign in 2016, which was shot in the Garden of Ninfa, and the Gucci Bloom Campaign starring Angelica Huston and Florence Welch.
With this collection, speculation about a potential partnership with the house of Balenciaga started a few days before Gucci Aria’s debut. Eventually, the proof appeared on the runway, to the backdrop of cameras hung everywhere on the catwalk’s walls, where Michele and Balenciaga Creative Director Demna Gvasalia collaborated on dual-branded ensembles. When wanting to celebrate the House’s incredible milestone, Michele brought in the equestrian world, all the while transfiguring it into a fetish cosmogony. Both house codes merged so seamlessly that it was difficult to tell what was whose: retro ‘70s silhouettes, elements of bondage, and equestrian equipment appeared throughout. “I have sublimated Marilyn Monroe’s silhouette and old Hollywood’s glamour,” Michele went on in his Twitter post. “I sabotaged the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie and the codes of men’s tailoring,” he continued.
After a thrilling catwalk, the film ended with a powerful still of a model opening a door that softly revealed a landscape of white peacocks and horses running wild in a place that could have easily been identified with classic children’s tale Snow White. Close-ups showed them with nose piercings, clutches shaped like human hearts, and horse-riding helmets. Models kissed, spun, and soared gracefully into the air through special effects, and it is to these very free-spirited characters to whom Michele gives his praise. “To their being fragile and vulnerable. To their ability to renew and get back to life after winter has passed.”