On Monday, speculation started to swirl after a compelling rumour rumbled the fashion crowd. With no one exactly knowing how it started or where it came from, rumour has it that Gucci's next collection Aria, to be released on Thursday 15 April, will be in collaboration with another Kering titan, Demna Gvasalia's Balenciaga. It's worth mentioning that the rumour is yet to be confirmed or denied, but the fashion press has been swift to pick up the story, trailing off the possibilities for Alessandro Michele's much-anticipated show that's set to happen later this week.
Michele's Gucci is certainly partial to the odd fashion collaboration or two, and near all of them have had the industry squirming with excitement for some time. In the past 18 months alone, the Italian house has released collections with the artist Ken Scott, The North Face, Liberty and even Comme des Garçons. Michele is the man accredited with Gucci's maximalist revamp and, since his appointment in 2015, has eliminated the long-dying sex-sells era of Italian fashion, reviving it with fashion's favourite 70s fantasies, eclectic co-ed runways and our favourite celebrities of the moment. (Yes, that does mean a fair few appearances have been made from the world's collective favourite ex-One Direction member, the one and only pussy-bow-loving, brace-wearing pop singer Mr Harry Styles.)
No stranger to the element of surprise either, Michele's Gucci has been keeping fashion lovers old and new constantly on their toes. Conjuring up a new vision for the brand ever since his appointment, the Italian native has also given way to multiple changes in fashion, showing that the industry doesn't have to be so stuck in its ways. Last year, through his manifesto, Notes From the Silence, Michele laid out his new direction for Gucci, choosing to abandon, in his own words, 'the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call. We will meet just twice a year to share the chapters of a new story.' There was also the ever-popular GucciFest, Gucci's new digital fashion and film festival, which ran through November last year. The designer presented a seven-part film series he co-directed with Gus Van Sant to showcase the latest Gucci collection, which appeared in each GucciFest episode, screened 16-22 November, alongside premiering films by fourteen young international designers. Michele titled both the collection and the series Ouverture of Something That Never Ended. Inviting other designers into the Gucci sphere, along with reducing their collection from six a year to two, GucciFest was the perfect medium to reflect and acknowledge how the brand's past has been setting up for an alternate luxury future.
When looking to an alternate luxury future for fashion that is both environmentally conscious yet inclusive in all its forms, video game dressing seems to be the new trend that's also taken designers by storm. On 30 March, Lyst and The Fabricant released their Digital Fashion Report, and while the findings were somewhat predictable (yes, fashion's digital future is looking as bright as ever), the report of video games becoming fashion's new playground was not so expected. Still, Michele has also leapt onto the phenomenon too with the brand designing clothes for Animal Crossing and their collaboration with Sims 4, recreating their sustainable Off the Grid collection through the game. Balenciaga is also no stranger to this format, with Gvasalia also presenting their A/W 21 collection in the form of a video game, Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow.
Neither Gvasalia nor Michele have shied away from embracing a more inclusive digital future, and so if a collaboration is on the cards, it's worth thinking about which format it might take. 2021 also marks Gucci's centenary. Will the unconfirmed collaboration touch upon this? Very likely. Will Michele's signature use of vivid colour and 70s flares remain if so, or is this era of Guccimania ready for a new chapter? There'll be a lot to unpack, so stay tuned.