Gucci "Hacks" Balenciaga for Triumphant 100th Anniversary Collection

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Alison S. Cohn
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Photo credit: Greg Avenel
Photo credit: Greg Avenel

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele never does anything by half measures, and his 100th anniversary collection titled Gucci Aria was a grand celebration that remixed the Italian brand’s storied history. Michele is fashion’s ultimate collaborator, having partnered with everyone from Dapper Dan to North Face on Instagram gold capsule collections, and here brought his friend Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia along to the party.

The festivities kicked off at an imaginary Savoy Club inspired by the famous London hotel where Gucci founder Guccio Gucci once worked as maitre d’ before returning to Florence and opening a small leather leather goods store in 1921. The soundtrack—featuring “Gucci Gang” by Lil Pump, “Green Gucci Suit” by Rick Ross feat. Future, “Gucci On My Bag” by Mier, and “Gucci Coochie” by Die Antwoord and Dita Von Teese—riffed on the brand’s rise to pop culture ubiquity in the century since.

There was a pared-back focus to Michele’s madcap pilings that have seemed to become more ornate with each passing season. Gucci and Balenciaga logos were splashed across monogram outerwear and boulder shoulder, wasp waist suiting—clearly Demna's influence. They also featured prominently on layered chain-link necklaces as well as signature Balenciaga accessories such as Hourglass bags and pantaboots. The partnership between the two Kering hitmakers is a match made in retail heaven.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Gucci
Photo credit: Courtesy of Gucci

But Michele’s references were far wider-ranging than Balenciaga circa the 2020s. “Gucci becomes for me a hacking lab, made of incursions and metamorphoses,” the designer explained in his show notes. “I have plundered the nonconformist rigour of Demna Gvasalia and the sexual tension of Tom Ford; I have lingered over the anthropological implications of what shines, working on the brightness of fabrics; I have celebrated the equestrian world of Gucci transfiguring it into a fetish cosmogony; I have sublimated Marilyn Monroe’s silhouette and old Hollywood’s glamour; I sabotaged the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie and the codes of men’s tailoring.”

Indeed there was an inherent sexiness to the proceedings, not seen at Gucci since the Tom Ford era. These included some literal references, like a remake of Gwyneth Paltrow’s iconic red velvet suit she wore to the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. Others were more oblique, like riding helmets and diamante whips that the models cracked while walking down the runway—a funny, dominatrix-inspired riff on Gucci’s saddlemaker origins.

Photo credit: Greg Avenel
Photo credit: Greg Avenel

Dressed in the most glittering of glad rags, the models looked ready to get loose in the club, as just about everyone is right now. But as the Gucci-Balenciaga Gang emerged from the darkness to frolic in the sun it appeared that Michele had a different sort of celebration in mind that felt right for a world still very much in the grips of a pandemic. “To these creatures, my praise,” he wrote. “To their being fragile and vulnerable. To their ability to renew and get back to life after winter has passed.” Be still my Gucci crystal-embellished heart minaudière.

You Might Also Like