by Stephen Garner

In the 100 years since Guccio Gucci founded his small leather shop in Florence, Gucci has always been synonymous with the use of symbols, laden with meaning and history, many still in use today. Symbols became another way for the brand to communicate.

When Alessandro Michele became the creative director of Gucci in 2015, he introduced a new narrative, one in which symbolism continued to remain paramount, but also included a remarkable emphasis on words. He recognized their power and realized that his choice of them directly impacted their capacity to move and inspire. With a single word or phrase, Gucci collections were infused with messages of love, freedom, and acceptance, becoming a new way to articulate self-expression through fashion.

To showcase his celebratory “Aria Collection,” Michele co-directed a film with multi-disciplinary artist and videographer Floria Sigismondi. In the past, she collaborated with the brand on multiple occasions, including on Gucci’s Gift Giving campaign in 2016, shot in the Garden of Ninfa, and on the Gucci Bloom campaign, which debuted in 2020 and set in the mystical passages of La Scarzuola.

In his show notes on the collection, Michele calls this collection “a deep and ecstatic diving in everything we yearningly miss today… a jubilee of breath.” In the year of Gucci’s centenary, Michele opens the locks of history, only to find a deeply personal vision of the brand’s history.

Michele picked up on Gucci’s equestrian codes, giving them a fetishistic spin. He also reprised one of Tom Ford’s greatest hits, the red velvet tuxedo from fall 1996, with new versions for both men and women.

More unexpected were the pieces that Michele lifted—or “hacked,” to use his term—from Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga, another brand in the Kering world of luxury brands. And the brand was clear, this is not a collaboration, rather the first iteration from Michele’s so-called hacking lab – a new way for the designer to ultimately express reverence and homage.

“Here we are then, ready to celebrate, wearing our most glittering clothes,” Michele wrote in the show notes. “Preparations for the event are in full swing. We are eager to walk through the Savoy’s doors again, one century later: an immaginific topos in the history of Gucci.”