The Aria Collection Marks
Gucci’s 100th Anniversary
By Ann B, May 14, 2021
Guccio Gucci founded his now-iconic label in Florence a century ago.
Alessandro Michele marked the legendary Italian fashion house’s centenary with the Aria Collection, paying homage to Tom Ford-era tailoring, and a guest appearance by Kering sister label Balenciaga. The star of the show, no doubt, was an anatomical heart-shaped jewel-encrusted minaudiere.
Gucci celebrates 100 years since Guccio Gucci founded the house in Florence in 1921. For its centenary collection, Alessandro Michele decided to present an Aria — not the sort related to opera in the classic sense — but one that was more of a modern-day remix of Gucci’s greatest hits — there were lots of revivals of Tom Ford-era Gucci — and equestrian roots that included a guest appearance by Balenciaga, its sister label on the Kering roster.
“Fashion is a wonderful illusion that is a dialogue between shapes, between colors, between interactions — even things that happen in your life,” said Michele in a behind-the-scenes Gucci video of the making of the collection.
Since taking the helm from Frida Giannini in 2015, Michele injected the label with the energy that the social media-crazed egos of 2010s needed, turning the brand into a viral sensation. Michele flipped the once frowned-upon bootlegging codes — tapping Trevor Andrew, the artist behind GucciGhost to collaborate with the brand, and designer Dapper Dan, who was once sued for using luxury logos in his designs, to partner on a collection for the house. More recently Gucci entered the world of digital sneakers as NFTs gain more traction. There’s also the Ridley Scott-directed film starring Adam Driver and Lady Gaga as Guccio Gucci’s grandson Patrizio Gucci and his wife Patrizia Reggiani that’s slated to premiere this fall.
For the 100th anniversary Gucci Aria collection, Michele conceptualized a fantasy on film with director Floria Sigismondi that featured a model entering the Savoy Club, an imaginary nightclub in an undisclosed city. Once inside, Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” played to a runway lined with rapidly blinking camera flashes. Models paraded looks to a soundtrack featuring just about every track mentioning the label, from Mier’s “Gucci on My Bag” to Rick Ross and Future’s “Green Gucci Suit” — yes a green Gucci suit emerged just as it started – and Die Antwoord and Dita Von Teese’s “Gucci Gucci.”
Michele covered Gucci’s signature handbag silhouettes, like the Jackie 1961, Gucci Bamboo, and the Horsebit, adding luxurious patent crocodile, or bold colorful geometric graphics to the GG Supreme canvas. The Gucci Aria collection also featured new iterations of Gucci accessories, like the leather corset/tactical vest embellished with a number of horsebits and a bamboo bag hanging off it. There’s also a bag shaped like an equestrian helmet and bamboo waist bags. A GG Supreme bucket bag marked the house’s centennial with the number 100 down the middle, flanked by purple stripes and yellow diamonds.
With the permission of his friend, Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia, Michele took motifs from Gucci’s fellow Kering label to add a new twist to the current collection. The Gucci creative director was worried he’d get fired for putting out another label’s name on the centenary runway. “I took things I saw in his first show,” said Michele. “I had fun contaminating the things that I made. That’s when the craziness began.” Michele used Gvasalia’s padded jacket from his debut collection for fall 2016, and took the Balenciaga Hourglass silhouette, and covering one with the Gucci Supreme canvas, and another with a print that fused the Balenciaga logo and Gucci Flora together. He did the reverse with the Gucci Jackie 1961, coating it with a Balenciaga logo print. Just don’t call it a collaboration — Gucci referred to it as something out of Michele’s “hack lab.”
The jewel of the Gucci Aria show was no doubt the rhinestone-encrusted anatomical heart-shaped minaudieres and crossbodies. The heart-shaped accessories came in a variety of colors, including, silver, yellow, and red, blue, and purple — which was carried by singer Celeste Waite on the 2021 Oscars red carpet weeks later.
At the end of the film, the models exited the club and entered a pastoral setting surrounded by horses and white peacocks, horses, and rabbits, as well as yellow-crested cockatoos. The models magically floated and danced in the air before the finale, which featured a model in a Gucci gown tossing the silver anatomical heart minaudiere up into the air. One can say that Michele successfully hacked Gucci for its centenary collection, dreaming of a post-pandemic Gucci-filled utopia.