For its next ad campaign, Gucci will look to the vast reaches of space. The brand teased their Fall/Winter 2017 advertising on Instagram last week with a series of vignettes of models decked out like extraterrestrials auditioning for a part in a space opera epic.
However, the vast reaches of the internet, being what they are, have some calling out the Italian fashion house for stealing the idea.
At the center of the brouhaha is Pierre-Louis Auvray, a student at London's famed fashion school Central Saint Martins. Under the Instagram handle @pierlouis7, Auvray has made a habit of photoshopping the faces of bizarre fantasy creatures onto images from fashion campaigns and runways. He seems to think that Gucci intentionally curbed the idea from him.
"Young creatives struggle enough without big companies shamelessly stealing from them, so f--- off Gucci," he wrote in one missive in an Instagram caption.
"I am just a student working hard on building my own stuff and the last thing we need as young creatives is to be ripped off," he wrote in another.
The claims took off to the point where Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele deemed it necessary to comment.
"It's not true," Michele told Business of Fashion of the allegations. "It's something that makes me feel really sad. People build a story around nothing."
"It’s about my memories, so movies from the '70s [including Star Trek: Lost in Space] that I saw many times," he continued.
Indeed, Michele pointed out that Auvray only began posting the photoshopped manipulation on Instagram about two months ago, and that planning for campaign began before that.
Chloe Sens, a special make-up effects artist who previously competed on SyFy's competition show FaceOff was also called in to do some work on the campaign, and likewise defended the team from accusation that they intentionally ripped off Auvray in an Instagram comment.
"Hello, I was hired to do this makeup with my team based on art that Gucci gave me. It was a blast for my team and I and a makeup we were proud of," she wrote.
So, what's happening here?
Well, it might be a case of recombinant conceptualization. That's the idea of separate creatives (or scientists, in more studied cases) who have similar ideas at the same time. It's also something that happens quite a bit in fashion.
Indeed, as Marisa Marchetto noted in an illustrated column for W, there were space influences all over the F/W 2017 runways, not just at Gucci.
There were hints of the theme even before. It was Chanel, after all, that sent models out in robot suits in it's S/S 2017 show.
The artist Ryan Trecartin had also photoshopped models Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner into bizarre, otherworldly humanoid characters for an issue of W that dropped in October.
There was definitely something in the air, and its not unthinkable that Michele and Auvrey both managed to pick up on it.
Indeed, Michele readily admits that the campaign was inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek. Auvrey's images also uses characters from flicks like Star Wars as its basis.
These two images, one from Auvrey's account and the other from the Gucci films, have been singled out as proof of the similarities.
Though, the head Auvrey used in his edit actually belongs to Even Piell, a minor character from the Star Wars prequels (he sits on the Jedi council, in case you're wondering). Indeed, Michele says that he got the idea for a pointed-eared alien from the Stars War and Trek.
"Pointed ears on an alien, just because you need the character of the alien, is something obvious," Michele told BoF. "It’s a very simple language for a kid to translate as an alien...I grew up with this kind of thing."
Fashion is full of examples of people picking up on similar ideas or influences at the same time. It's how trends happen, after all, and while we can understand why Auvrey could be upset, it is a credit to him in the first place that he managed to be on quite a similar wavelength as Michele.
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