When Alessandro Michele announced he’d be trailing away from the traditional fashion calendar to show Gucci in bi-annual seasonless collections, he was doing what few had already done. Little did we know, the Italian fashion maestro was winding up for more with his Gucci Aria collection.
The collection released this morning as a film includes the results of what Michele calls a “hacking lab” — the target being another luxury force in the stable of Kering brands: Balenciaga. The term “hacking” makes it clear this was not a collaboration, where both parties provide consent. This was a bold incursion into the world presided over by another designer: Demna Gvasalia.
Named Aria — which is defined as a solo performance in an opera — the collection was more of a dance with soft and hard in perfect harmony. Or perhaps Michele was suggesting that he would create an aria, by blending two entities into one. Suits are marked with the names of both brands in the slanted style of Balenciaga. There’s an unmissable Gucci motif takeover of the Balenciaga Hourglass sling bag. Iced, cuban link necklaces have charms that spell out both fashion houses’ names (note the sneaky replacing of the “g” in Balenciaga with Gucci’s infamous double Gs). And there’s a new take on the Gucci logo belt with a single G in a font similar to Balenciaga’s “B” buckle.
Despite the saturation of labelling, Michele has captured today’s obsession with logomania in a way no other artist has, and perhaps kickstarted a whole new business strategy: high fashion fusions. And as collector’s items, the Aria pieces could skyrocket in value if this turns out to be a one-time thing.
The setting for the film, by Michele and Floria Sigismondi (who grew up in Hamilton, ON) is the Savoy Club, a reference to the London hotel where founder Guccio Gucci worked and where the fancy luggage of the guests left a deep impression. Models walked a long hallway lined with strobe and stage lights to the beat of a hip-hop setlist sprinkled with Gucci references. Horsey motifs included harness-like corsets overtop tailored dresses and blouses. A studded crop top with Balenciaga-approved shoulders was paired with riding boots and a helmet. Michele’s taste for glitter came in a gathered-waist dress, reminiscent of flowing water, accessorized with a yellow stone-encrusted heart (the organ, not the Valentine symbol).
The film closes with Vitalic and David Shaw’s Waiting for the Stars playing while models caress each other in a fairytale landscape. This fashion-filled forest is a tucked away secret — a breath of fresh air. Just what the Aria collection and show panned out to be. And as lush greens and majestic white horses, bunnies and birds frolic to the lyrics “What the future holds, waiting for the stars to align,” the past, present and future all tie together. Gucci is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and while its history can’t be contained in a single performance, this milestone moment marks the centenary in an innovative way. It also stresses that nothing can last without change.