It's a rather strange time for Gucci. 2021 marks a huge milestone: 100 years since it was founded by Guccio Gucci. Yet it's difficult to celebrate when one can't really do so in such a public and exuberant manner. Creative director Alessandro Michele however, managed to do so with Gucci Aria in a way that's still socially distant but one where joy and hope permeated through.
The Gucci Aria film was co-directed by photographer and director Floria Sigismondi together with Michele. It opens with a male model entering the Savoy Club (a nod to Guccio's humble beginnings as a bellhop at London's Savoy Hotel) before the runway show starts proper. The soundtrack then kicks in with Lil Pump's 'Gucci Gang' followed by four other songs featuring 'Gucci' in the title as models walked down a runway flanked by flashing cameras.
Towards the end, the film culminated in a scene where the back of the club opens up to a sort of Garden of Eden. White peacocks and horses frolic around as models eventually slowly float up towards the sky. It was a powerful showing of how nature is healing. And that there's hope at the end of this very long tunnel we're all experiencing together.
Look and feel: As a whole, Gucci Aria was a stylistic mix of Michele's hodgepodge vision for Gucci, former creative director Tom Ford's brash sexiness, and fellow Kering-mate Balenciaga's signature pieces as overseen by Demna Gvasalia. But most importantly, it was a cohesive collection of looks that in their own individual ways, was imbued with some form of sensuality and joy. Gucci Aria was a tight assortment aesthetically but still managed to project a sense of individuality throughout. And with sequins, colour-blocked fits and patterns galore, it was a celebration for when celebrations can resume proper.
Favourite looks: There were so many looks to unpack and a lot of them symbolised different moments in Gucci's history. There was the return of Ford's iconic red velvet suit paired with an undone blue shirt (look 1) that the former Gucci creative director designed back in 1996. Michelle amped up Ford's often sexed-up vision in a more literally way with the addition of a horsebit harness. And speaking of horsebit harnesses, look's 89 oversized interpretation seemed less sexual when worn with a plaid suit—more statement accessory than anything else.
For something a tad simpler but not quite so, look 72's sequinned tailoring is definitely one of our favourites. It's minimal in appearance with little to no added flourishes, but the all-over sequin construction exemplified Michele's ability to create noise without going big.
Then of course, there were the Gucci x Balenciaga combinations. The best interpretations of the collaboration were the ones that merged both house's distinctive motifs. Look 91's Hourglass jacket (a Balenciaga icon that Gvasalia reintroduced in 2018) decorated with both Balenciaga's logo pattern and Gucci's GG motif and then paired with GG-everything was a clear standout. We also appreciate look 62's womenswear combination of Balenciaga and Gucci florals for a head-to-toe reimagining of both motifs. Splendid.
Favourite accessories: Because it's such a milestone collection, we're gunning straight for the caps branded with '100' right at the front as seen on looks 53, 80 and 91. The latter's variation especially, is top on our list. The collection's Jackie bag that's been given a sporty treatment with the addition of painted stripes (look 67) was a slightly more masculine version that could help the bag appeal to a broader male audience. But what's even better was the Gucci x Balenciaga Jackie bag (look 21) that's in line with Gvasalia's design ethos of recontextualising existing designs and a Gucci icon.