Let’s get one thing straight: the Gucci collection presented on Thursday morning, the one dotted with silhouettes, powerful shoulders and the logo of Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia? It was do not a collaboration. Instead, the house said it was a product of Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s “hack lab” – a theoretical place Michele has once frolicked, where he collects wild references from different places and times and reformulates them into contemporary cultural statements. It’s not just a buzzword: he used his obsession with Renaissance painting to kickstart the fluid genre fad. The “tribute” or “reference” may be the main fashion trick of our time, but only Michele brings them together to lasso the Gucci bubble at much bigger cultural shifts.
The “hack lab” is the kind of classic Michele-ism that raises more questions than it answers, but it has also resulted in probably the strangest and most absurd thing we’ve seen in fashion since. the arrival of Gvasalia and Michele. has changed the way almost everyone around the world dresses.
Going back a bit: all this week the fashion world has been chatting about the rumor that the Gucci show scheduled for Thursday, titled Aria, is a collaboration between the Italian mega-brand and its brother under the Kering conglomerate, Balenciaga. It was a real headache, seemingly unprecedented and hard even to imagine – like siblings going out or twins changing clothes. It’s not enough like Supreme collaborating with Louis Vuitton in 2017, in which a super street brand and a super fashion brand had a sort of royal wedding (and which marked the official anointing of streetwear in the fold of haute couture). It also wouldn’t be as if Dries Van Noten delved into Christian Lacroix’s archives for his Spring 2020 womenswear collection. Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia is known for his bizarre collaborations – at Vetements he has already collaborated with 11 brands. in one salon, and he put the ‘Kering’ logos in a Balenciaga collection – but in these cases, Gvasalia has always had the upper hand, as a disruptive force in high fashion putting the mall brands and the brands of dad in a new context. Could it be like Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons co-designing Prada? Or anything else?
Of course, the hack was unlike any of the above. “Aria” began with a model in a red velvet suit (a nod to Tom Ford’s tenure in Gucci) entering a club called Savoy, named after the hotel where founder Guccio Gucci fell in love with leather ( baggage, you perverts!). Suddenly he appeared on a camera-lined trail – the aforementioned “hacking lab”. A few looks later the glorious chaos began: a model in a pair of these Balenciaga leggings, with the ruched stretch skater top as we first saw them in Balenciaga spring 2017 … but with the Gucci stripe green and red and the boots covered with Gucci logos. A few looks later, there was that unmistakable balenciaga shoulder, but in a Gucci equine color palette. Then Balenciaga flowers, but bearing the name “Gucci”. The classic Gucci Jackie bag – printed with “Balenciaga”. The superb hourglass suit jacket by Gvasalia, in the Gucci diamond design. Coat with asymmetrical closure by Balenciaga for fall 2017, in a racing-stripe color.
These are Gvasalia’s biggest Balenciaga hits – but Gucci-fied. It was indeed less a collaboration than a Fuck, in the best possible way. As Michele put it in a video that was shared on Instagram a few hours before the show, “In any great saga, no one knows what’s real and what isn’t.” (His good friend Jared Leto said, in another video, “People are going to lose their minds!” He was right!) They were like fashion deepfakes: some mad scientist made my Gucci behave like Balenciaga !! !
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