It’s not every day that two of the biggest names in fashion come together. But that’s exactly what Gucci and Balenciaga—which are both owned by the powerhouse luxury conglomerate Kering—did on Thursday for a presentation titled Gucci Aria. Directed by The Runaway’s Floria Sigismondi and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, the 15-minute short takes place at the Savoy Club, referencing the London hotel where founder Guccio Gucci got started as an elevator operator. The presentation marked the house’s 100th anniversary.
While placing it in the context of Gucci’s history, creative director Alessandro Michele looked forward and outward, most notably at the trademark design of his contemporary, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia. Michele put a Gucci spin on some of Gvasalia’s biggest hits; the florals found on a pair of shoes “that look like socks,” for example, stem back to his own pre-fall 2017 collection. And there was no shortage of Gvasalia’s signature teeny sunglasses and exaggerated silhouettes.
Michele also took the opportunity to pay homage to his most notable Gucci predecessor, Tom Ford. Amongst the Ford-inspired standouts were blazers that paid homage to one Gwyneth Paltrow memorably wore to the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.
Interestingly enough, Gucci was careful to specify that “this is not considered a collaboration or a capsule.” It’s instead, apparently, a “hacking lab,” meaning Michele swiped a selection of Gvasalia’s and Ford’s designs, and retrofitted them into his own vision. (The houses share a parent company in Kering.)
Michele also got particularly experimental with accessories. There were dangling septum piercings, horse bit harnesses, equestrian helmets, and leather whips. Some standout handbags took the shape of a bedazzled human heart.
“I have plundered the nonconformist rigor of Demna Gvasalia and the sexual tension of Tom Ford,” Michele waxed poetic in the show notes. “I have lingered over the anthropological implications of what shines, working on the brightness of fabrics; I have celebrated the equestrian world of Gucci transfiguring it into a fetish cosmogony; I have sublimated Marilyn Monroe’s silhouette and old Hollywood’s glamour; I sabotaged the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie and the codes of men’s tailoring.”
Michele was much more casual in the exclamation point-heavy messages he exchanged with Gvasalia that Gucci posted on Instagram. “Tom is a genius!,” he said of Ford. “I’m still so in love with the 90s!.” For his part, Gvasalia reminisced on one of his earliest Gucci memories: the purchase of a “so very fashion and so very fierce!” sample Gucci Envy perfume.