From an osmosis of Balenciaga, bondage, and banging bops, Alessandro Michele’s Gucci Aria, a definitive retrospective of signatures, will definitely be the talk of fashion town for a while.
Celebrating a history of heritage is no easy feat, especially for a storied and stellar house such as Gucci. Typically, however, one would assume it to be a nondescript narration of humble beginnings to legacy painstakingly built, as is, of course, most worthy of 100 years. “Going through the hour when everything originated is a great responsibility for me, and a joyful privilege. It means being able to open the locks of history and linger over the edge of the beginning. It means soaking in that natal source to relive the dawn and the coming into view,” writes the orchestrator of the Gucci symphony, Alessandro Michele. “I wouldn’t like to sentimentalize a biography though. Gucci’s long history can’t be contained within a single inaugural act. As any other existence, it’s destiny is marked by a long series of ‘endless births.’”
In what would usually relent to dissonance, the retrospective of eras was surprisingly a seamless symphony of definitive points-of-view. Straddling the fine line of pomp and purity, Gucci Aria hit all the right notes. Striking a compelling chord from the neon-lit entrance of the fictional Savoy Club, a necessary nod to the creative genesis of the brand at the Savoy Hotel, the work of precision in tailored red paired with wraparound sunglasses and leather harness was the proper introduction to the flash and function that would course through the singular collection. Cohesive in the many representations of vision across the story of Gucci, from Guccio and Aldo Gucci, Tom Ford, and of course, Alessandro Michele, it was a well-paced and well-balanced sight to behold.
But in as much as it was a study of its illustrious past and distinct present, it was for the most part, a conversation about the future.
Listen To Gucci Aria
A response to the times by all means, Gucci Aria is a reflection of where it came from, where it stands, and where it will go. “In my work, I caress the roots of the past to create unexpected inflorescences, carving the matter through grafting and pruning,” explains Michele. “I appeal to such ability to reinhabit what has already been given. And to the blending, the transitions, the fractures, the concatenations. To escape the reactionary cages of purity, I pursue a poetics of the illegitimate.”
Under the willful baton of Alessandro Michele, the passage of time is realized in an immaculately white tunnel-like runway with lights blasting wildly through its different capacities. In this place of neither here nor there, which were viewed virtually by the likes of Madonna, Serena Williams, Jared Leto, and Miley Cyrus, the signature oddball and quirk still pulses through the Gucci Aria collection.
Steady in stride, it was literally a show of sentiment as models stomped to the soundtrack of Gucci Gang by Lil Pump, Gucci Green Suit by Rick Ross, Gucci Flip Flops by Bhad Bhabie, and Gucci Coochie by Die Antwood, with cystalline anatomical hearts held in their hands. However, unlike the niche of spectrum end peculiar it has managed to make mainstream, there was a compelling case of function to the flash of the brand.
The Hacking Of Balenciaga
With the wonder and whimsy of Alessandro Michele, as evidenced by the formidable foundation of his silhouettes, styling, and storytelling, there were winks of what built Gucci to be today—gallops of equestrian details through leather riding boots, whips, and riding hats, a sublimation of old Hollywood glamour in shape and shimmer, and lashes of the unapologetic sex and sensibility of Tom Ford. But apart from its overt sense of bravery and bondage, it was the thoughtful appropriation of Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga that had everyone at the edge of their seats.
Christened Gucciaga, it was a coming together of two artistic irreverents, positing a tectonic shift that is bound to be game-changing for the future of fashion. Sure, the collaborations of the highstreet and streetwear are aplenty in this day and age, but to bring two of the biggest brands under one non-conforming mash-up of print, patterns, and point-of-view, was unheard of—until now. For Alessandro Michele, who liberally uses the words plunder and sabotage with permission, of course, it is a hacking lab of ideas that defy the dictates of an old-world rigor.
From an abundance of the iconic GG motif and bronzed horsebits in everything from loafers to fetishized detailing, Gucci Aria peaked in an anachronism of the classic and the electric 80s with Demna Gvasalia’s signatures for Balenciaga contrasting the playful essence of Gucci as seen in the smears of colors and tufts of textures. In the coalition of codes, we saw everything from a hybrid of monograms in sparkling suits, chains with the letters of Balenciaga decorating the neck, aggressive square shoulders, and thigh-hugging boots. Divisive as it will stand to be, this offering is already inducted into the hallowed halls of fashion. Meaning, its most ardent pundits will want a piece of it for sure. So, place your bets mindfully, because this is where the new race begins.
“It’s rather like a deep and ecstatic diving in everything we yearningly miss today: a feast of air. A jubilee of breath,” expresses Alessandro Michele of the vision that is Gucci Aria. Instead of just closing the curtains and draping the screen in black, as is standard of the digitally broadcasted presentations as of late, the film continues to the awning of a door that is aesthetically removed from the almost clinical and robotic limbo-like runway. With one big push, the scene extends to a realization of liberty—an expanse of greenery and sky, with bursts of life, love, and laughter coloring the view.
In this principle of connection and existence, Gucci Aria is drawing an exhale, one that many truly is in dire need of these days. “Breath is in fact what every living thing constantly generates, ‘it is the first name of being-in-the-world, it is the vibration through which everything opens up to life’ (E. Coccia). It is a nativity that we honour in its oscillatory motion: ‘inhaling, that is letting the world get inside us, and exhaling, that is projecting ourselves in the world that we are,’” closes Alessandro Michele in this story of traversing time. “To these creatures, my praise. To their being fragile and vulnerable. To their ability to renew and get back to life after winter has passed.”