Instead of imagining a far out world akin to its exacting lens, Alessandro Michele and Gucci focuses its attention to the delicate souls at home, living out an honest truth amid a blur of time and circumstance.
“We are young, we run green / Keep our teeth, nice and clean / See our friends, see the sights / Feel alright,” and so goes the song, Alright by the English rock band, Supergrass. Carefree it is, with a melody and lyrics that make you want to stretch your arms and run around in circles in the liberty of a moment, it does seem like an entire lifetime ago when everything as it sings, felt alright. It’s a subversion of the times, clearly, with the world in shambles and dazed confusion, but it does take a crack at the ominous bubble we all have been living in, allowing for shards of light to slice through. As everything is deliberate in the mind of Alessandro Michele, Creative Director for Gucci, this introduction of hope was perhaps the very reason why he chose this song to underscore the fall/winter campaign of its critically acclaimed collection, The Ritual.
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“I rather forged the conditions for a combustion: because I longed a spark able to set a splendidly eccentric human potential on fire,” he says of the predicament that had to be processed in the face of the yet-to-be-tamed global crisis that has crashed like a violent swell of tsunami on what once was serene and sublime. With the world adapting to the rigors of a new order in safe, social distances, a heightened sense of survival that has long been dormant has been required at every turn. Instead of relenting to the aggression of the times, Gucci was compelled to continue their story now more than ever, but with necessary shifts of paradigm and perspective. “I surrendered to the idea that beauty can appear, unpredictably and wonderfully imperfect. Through the absence of control,” Alessandro Michele says, further expounding in a conversation with AnOther magazine. “The overturning, in fact, creates a paradoxical effect: loosening control produced a narration that seems to overcome, in intensity, my own ability to build fiction. I am thankful for this imaginative experimentation because it restored the power of a dream: mine.”
If anything, the pandemic that has forced the world in isolation, quarantine, and physical distances has fleshed out the premise the brand introduced in its fall/winter 2020 presentation months back. In the presentation of what is now to be known as the old clockwork of fashion, Gucci blurred the lines of the traditional runway show by incorporating the systematic chaos behind-the-scenes at the forefront for the audience to see. Rhythmic like steady, well-placed breaths set to a marching orchestration that heightened the experience, and most importantly the clothes, The Ritual followed the vein of grown up quirky, but this time with intrusion of religious details that made looking closer even more charming than the sensorial first glance rotation. The storytelling was not lost as evidenced by the nuanced layers, the textured details, and pervading atypical romance threading through the collection.
Transposing this more mature point-of-view of the typically odd and whimsical could have meant something else entirely, but backed into a corner of limitations, there had to be an exercise of letting go from Alessandro Michele, which if you ask any self-respecting creative is easier said than done. “[It] was extraordinary for me. In this game of mirrors, that reverses the roles and redefines the functions, every shot breathes as fresco,” he says of the undertaking. “The extravagant hyper-naturalism that I have always tried to depict, now emerges even more authentically and more amazingly.”
In the same exacting lens that the world of Gucci operates on, the results of the DIY self-production and self-portraits doesn’t stray even a hairline away from the energy and aesthetic the brand has cultivated over the tenure of Alessandro Michele. Celebrating the unique and distinct spirit of the individual, the images effortlessly integrate itself to the story of Gucci in this cultural context. Nourishing the campaign with a sense of enchantment and expanded with the charm of neorealism, there exists a more relatable appeal, because just like us, the man brushing his teeth in his Gucci skivvies, the lithe lady crocheting in a GG motif bodysuit, or the wispy boy tending to his garden wearing the Gucci Ultrapace R sneakers are all equated in the barometer of normal, except that they are in Gucci, of course.
“I let the models build their own images. To act as photographers and storytellers, producers, and scenographers. I asked them to represent the idea they have of themselves. To go public with it, shaping the poetry that accompanies them. I encouraged them to play, improvising with their life,” he says, detailing how The Ritual campaign came together. “Individuals I chose precisely, over time, for their uniqueness. I picked them, once more, because they can’t stop emanating energy and expression. Because they radiate joy and cheerfulness. Because they have intense passions and delicate souls.”
Instead of building a far out world, forcing us to escape into a realm of fiction, Gucci is banking on honesty more than ever, encouraging us to live our truths through the slices of life depicted in its captivating campaign. A peek into the collection that has made heads turn then, this shot-from-home effort makes it very clear that even if we are strange in our worlds, we will get by and yes, maybe sometime into the horizons we all look to as a collective human unit, everything will be alright.