Gucci’s Chilling Cruise Show Takes Place in a Cemetery

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As summer draws closer for those of us on the northern hemisphere, many will likely be reaching for sheer fabrics and bright colors. After all, warm weather evokes images of pastels, florals, gingham etc. All of which have connotations of light-hearted cheerfulness; you can easily imagine anyone wearing such styles frolicking in a meadow somewhere or having a picnic. However, if you’ve seen Gucci’s Cruise 2019 show, you may have been treated to somewhat of a reprieve from more vanilla styles, as the presentation of this collection has definitely attempted to stir the more morbid parts of our imagination.

The Italian fashion house held its show in Alyscamps, a Roman necropolis on the outskirts of Arles, France. Necropolis, which is a word derived from the Greek word nekropolis, means “city of the dead.” While this may, in fact, conjure some chilling imagery, the word is typically used to refer to a large ancient burial ground. Alyscamps in particular served such a function during the era of the Roman Empire and at some point in its long history, was also converted to a Christian cemetery. It is currently categorized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

However, this past week, the historic grounds served as a fitting setting to Gucci’s new Cruise collection which was rather gothic in aesthetic. Models glided through a catwalk split by fire, likely conjuring fearsome images of the otherworldly. Alessandro Michelle, creative director of the brand, cited the concept behind the collection as being “the idea of death as a fascination.”

Mr. Michele gave some further explanation of the unique setting on Twitter, stating that “Alyscamps is a Roman cemetery, but it is also not a cemetery”, he went on to explain that “it was a promenade, it became a walk in the 1700s; it is hybridized, it does not look like a cemetery because it is and isn’t. I like things that seem like something but are not.”

The clothes themselves certainly gave that impression. The New York Times describes the show as a collection of “sweeping Victorian ruffles and bourgeoise tweed lunching suits; granny glasses and piles of Elizabethan; ruffles and crosses and disco zebra stripes and sequins and floral sweatshirts,” and this is indeed a very fitting assessment.

One might view this hodge-podge of eras as being reflective of Michele’s statements concerning death fascination and seeming but not being. The coexistence of these historic periods and these contradictory styles seem rather eerie, making the show seem like a dimension in which time itself does not exist. A homage to the bygone moments of fashion history and in that sense, perhaps a fashion graveyard.

The show notes reportedly describe the characters played by the models as being “widows visiting grave sites, kids playing rock n roll stars, and ladies who aren’t ladies.” These colorful descriptions certainly ring true, any observer would be hard pressed to come up with their own description of the myriad of characters presented on the runway last Wednesday.


Among the most notable of these figures is perhaps the Victorian bride who made an appearance at the very end of the show, whose pale appearance and white attire contrasted with an ornate, multicolored bouquet. Her gown, a high collared number best defined by its ocean of white ruffles, does appear rather severe at first glance. Yet, upon closer inspection, one may even interpret it as innocent, as the lily-white ruffles could be reminiscent of baby clothes or a communion dress. Once again perhaps referencing the contradictory ideas at the heart of this show.

It is rather interesting to note that this show may be just a piece of a larger puzzle, as Gucci has announced that they will skip Milan Fashion Week in favor of Paris, making this theatrical show a portion of a “creative homage to France.”

Featured Image via Wikipedia Commons

Proud Latina Feminist. My likes include strong coffee, watching the previews that come on before the movie, and things that come in pretty packages. I've been a bibliophile and fashion lover since well before I could read or tie my own shoes.

    • Julia Hess

      I find this to be an intriguing line and photoshoot. Cool share!

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