Since taking the reigns of Gucci in 2015, creative director Alessandro Michele has invited the brand's new gender-bending, pussy bow-loving audience on one hell of a ride. Campaigns, as for any luxury label, have played a central role in helping Michele to carve out their fantastical visions for Gucci, from the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice starring Lou Duillon in New York, to that now infamous A/W 15 Glen Luchford image of a model in the metro, hair windswept from a passing train. Hot off the heels of the Aria show, which celebrated Gucci's centenary year with equestrian symbolism and nods to the Tom Ford era, the brand's new installation at their gallery space in Florence promises to take an allegiance of Gucci followers to the heart of Michele's own chapter.
The Gucci Garden Archetypes is an immersive experience in the heart of Florence, and plays on the idea of copies - archetypes being the original form which can never themselves be recreated. The idea of copies is something we've seen Michele fascinated by on the runway, remember the A/W 18 show where models carried their own heads? Just like the human face, a successful brand campaign can tattoo itself in our minds (again, just think of the Tom Ford A/W 97 campaign). Through collaborations with various creatives including Glen Luchford and Bruce Gilden, Michele has carved out a more than memorable visual trajectory of the new Gucci post-2015. Now, 15 of the best Gucci campaigns by Michele have been brought to life in a series of installations inside the Gucci Garden building, from the Pre-Fall 17 Northern Soul campaign, to the S/S 18 Hallucination artworks which have been recreated by Ignasi Monreal in a mural which took 900 hours of work.
'I thought it was interesting to accompany people in these first six years of adventure, inviting them to cross the imaginary, the narrative, the unexpected, the glitter. So, I created a playground of emotions that are the same as in the campaigns, because they are the most explicit journey into my imagery', Michele explains.
Curated by Alessandro Michele, Gucci worked with the design studio Archivio Personale to bring the fantasies found throughout the campaigns to life. Entering through a control room, faced with screens of the exhibition rooms, the installation starts with a playful take on surveillance, something Michele also nodded to with the live-streamed Epilogue photoshoot last year. Inside, there's a multi-screen reimagining of the Gucci Beauty lipstick campaign, and a hidden garden filled with flowers to recreate the fairyland setting of the Gucci Bloom campaign starring Dakota Johnson, Petra Collins and Hari Nef. From Tokyo to Berlin to London to the Paris protests in May 1968, Michele's campaigns have sprawled decades and locations, both real and imagined. What better way to celebrate 100 years of Gucci than bring it all to life - you can literally step into pop culture and fashion's history.
Not based in Florence? No problem. In-keeping with Gucci's embrace of the digital, launching virtual sneakers and creating outfits for the game Animal Crossing, the installation will be available to explore online. Gucci have partnered with the online platform Roblox to take the brand into the metaverse, straddling both the physical and the digital. Visitors will find that digital avatars and mannequins become one, as they transform into unique digital artworks. Visitors are invited to enter from 17 May, and the show will close two weeks after this.