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Gucci Responds to Claims It Ripped Off Aliens Campaign from an Instagrammer

Did Gucci’s latest space-themed campaign rip off a fashion student? Or is this a case of recombinant conceptualization?


Images via @pierlouis7 and @Gucci

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.

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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.

How Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid Became Humanoid Creatures for W

Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid wear Louis Vuitton dresses and sandals; the Murphy Maxwell FTS Cartoonification mouth grill. Lauren Devine wears T by Alexander Wang bodysuit shirt; Hood by Air Atelier acrylic master lock collar; Plain Hats hat; prosthetic nose from Naimie’s Beauty Center; makeup artist’s own prosthetic ears. Telfar “Customer” logo on Phantom quadcopter.

Hadid beauty: Maybelline Dream Velvet Foundation in Sandy Beige, Brow Drama Pomade Crayon in Blonde, the Falsies Push Up Angel Washable Mascara in Very Black, Color Tattoo Eye Chrome in Bronze Sheen, Facestudio Master Contour V-Shape Duo Stick in Light, Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter in Light-Iridescent, Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm in Quenched.

Jenner beauty: Estée Lauder Double Wear Light Stay-in-Place Makeup in 3.5, the Brow Multi-Tasker in Dark Brunette, Pure Color Envy Defining EyeShadow Wet/Dry in Brash Bronze, Sumptuous Knockout Defining Lift and Fan Mascara in Black, Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer in Light, Bronze Goddess Summer Glow Illuminator, Pure Color Envy Blooming Lip Balm.

Image © Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Photograph by Jason Kibbler. Styled by Patrick Mackie. Hair by Recine for Rodin; makeup and special effects makeup by Sammy Mourabit for Make Up for Ever; manicures by Marisa Carmichael for Formula X at Streeters.

rehearsal pace, 2016

FTS human-hamster water bottle.

Image © Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Photograph by Jason Kibbler. Styled by Patrick Mackie.

floater costs, 2016

Clockwise, from left: Kendall Jenner wears Eres bikini; Hood by Air lace-lock button up and puffer scarf; Philipp Plein pants; Alexander Wang bag; Louis Vuitton boots; prosthetic nose from Naimie’s Beauty Center (throughout). Gigi Hadid wears Hood by Air Atelier harness; Onia swimsuit top; Hood by Air monster trousers; Louis Vuitton boots; prosthetic nose from Naimie’s Beauty Center (throughout); makeup artist’s own prosthetic ears (throughout). Jesse Hoffman wears T-shirt from Ohio; his own Janiva Ellis dress; his own glasses.

Image © Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Photograph by Jason Kibbler. Styled by Patrick Mackie.

under said, 2016

Clockwise, from left: Hadid wears Telfar top and jeans. Lauren Devine wears Telfar “Customer” T-shirt; Fendi shorts; artists’ own hat. Jenner wears Telfar shirt and shorts; TASI Designs for FTS Solo cup earrings. All glasses from Target. Hair by Recine for Rodin; makeup and special effects makeup by Sammy Mourabit for Make Up for Ever; manicures by Marisa Carmichael for Formula X at Streeters.

Image © Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Photograph by Jason Kibbler. Styled by Patrick Mackie.

pitch flare, 2016

From left: Hoffman wears T-shirt from Ohio; his own Janiva Ellis dress; his own hand-painted shoes. Jenner wears Marni jacket; DKNY Pure track pants; Rosamosario plastic bralette; American Apparel bra (underneath); MSGM bag; Darkfin gloves; FTS skid rim pigtail trucker hat from the movie Mark Trade. Hadid wears Jonathan Simkhai sports bra; Bally pants; 69 hat; Eddie Borgo choker; Darkfin gloves.

Image © Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Photograph by Jason Kibbler. Styled by Patrick Mackie.

open horse, 2016

Jenner wears Moschino bikini; Escada Sport jacket; Versace pants; Corona Collection hat; Christopher Kane bag.

Image © Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Photograph by Jason Kibbler. Styled by Patrick Mackie.

captcha off, 2016

Hadid wears Emilio Pucci jacket and bodysuit; Prada shorts; Louis Vuitton boots. On animated figures: Evolve underwear (on head); other clothing from Ohio. In hands (right): TASI Designs antler necklace.

Performance Actors: Jesse Hoffman and Lauren Devine; Puppy: @Sachi_Does_Hollywood; Fitch Trecartin Studio: Sean Grattan, Sergio Pastor; FTS Director of Special Projects: Isabel Venero; Project Manager: Simone Manwarring; FTS PostProduction: Lola Sinreich; FTS Custom 3-D Modeling: Rhett LaRue; FTS Custom Prop Design: Nick Rodrigues, Charles Mathis; FTS makeup artist and stylist for Hoffman: Janiva Ellis; FTS Fashion Whisperer and stylist: Lauren Devine; On-Set Production by Rosco Production; Digital Technician: Charley Parden; Photography Assistants: James Schieberl, Michel Andreo, Sean Bonilla; on-set retoucher: eliabeth mooney; Fashion Assistants: Diana Choi, Elyse Lightner; Hair Assistant: Shingo Shibata; Makeup Assistant: Valerie Vonprisk; Sound Technician: Harlow Price; Cinematography: Alex Gvojic and Rory Mulhere at Capture This; Ohio Shoppers: Raul de Nieves, Liz Rywelski, Mary Ann Heagerty, Lindsay Beebe; Special Thanks to Smashbox Studios; capture this; TELFAR; Hood by Air; TASI; Jeremiah Thies; Ellen Greenberg; Sprueth Magers; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Image © Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Photograph by Jason Kibbler. Styled by Patrick Mackie.
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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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