Gucci Aria
Photo: Gucci

Gucci turned 100 years old and celebrated by collaborating or “hacking” Balenciaga. The Gucci and Balenciaga collaboration is called the Gucci Aria.

This is not Gucci’s first collaboration. They collaborated with a brand called North Face that sold out successfully. But this has been cited as one of the biggest designer collaborations ever. Creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele wanted to channel Demna Gvasalia, the creative director at Balenciaga.

In Michele’s words “I have plundered the nonconformist rigor of Demna Gvasalia and the sexual tension of Tom Ford; I have lingered over the anthropological implications of what shines, working on the brightness of fabrics…”

Photo: Gucci

So there is a lot of going on in the Aria collection. Michele wanted to honor Tom Ford, who used to be the creative director of Gucci in the 90s. While also using the show as a biography for Gucci as a whole, and using this time to make a high-powered collaboration and introduced the next 100 years of Gucci. It is a lot.

When it comes to Gucci, Michele took a page out of Gucci’s archives, with bronzed horse bits, traditionally embellishing its loafers and handbags. The equestrian theme is abundant throughout the show, with models wearing caps and jodhpurs, lashing the runway with leather riding whips.

The show takes place in a made-up Savoy Club, to commemorate the connection the founder of Gucci has to the Hotel Savoy. The founder and leather maker Guccio Gucci was a porter at the Savoy Hotel in London, England. His fascination with luxury started there- apparently seeing guests check in with the luxury suitcases inspired him. In 1921, he then established his own leather goods shop in Italy.

Photo: Gucci

Completely different from the Hotel Soy, ‘Savoy Club’ is full of blinding flashing lights on white walls and white shining floors.

The Savoy Club reference is present throughout the show, with the words “Savoy Club” printed on some caps and garments. But HipHop music was used. Which is apt. The role that rap music played in launching Gucci into one of their most successful eras for the past three to four years, is undeniable. Rappers wearing heavily monogrammed Gucci clothes have been a huge cultural influence.

Some of the songs played during Gucci Aria were Rick Ross featuring Future “Green Gucci Suit” and Lil Pump’s ‘Gucci Gang’. Replicating the type of music that would actually be played in a club.

During the show there are Balenciaga design bags covered in the Gucci Logo, then there are the Balenciaga sock boots being also transformed with a glittery Gucci monogram all over it. Then  “BALENCIAGA” text appeared on Gucci’s iconic Jackie handbag and Michele’s deft tailoring. These are some of the standout pieces.

The Gucci Aria show was received with mixed reactions. Some have welcomed it and cannot wait to get their hands on a few pieces, although this will be incredibly difficult. If the Gucci North Face collaboration was anything to go by, items will sell out fast. 

Photo: Gucci

This collaboration is expected to perform the same way, on the market. However, others have questioned the originality and labeled this as just copying another designer, but with their permission. Harsh. But something to think about.

Both Gucci and Balenciaga belong to the same conglomerate Kering’s, they are equally successful and have been equally profitable for the past four years, when compared to each other.

Others have said it makes sense, brands such as Gucci who have such a wide customer base have to work harder to stay relevant and successful. Gucci is on an interesting journey and the effects will be even greater to see.

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