A few months ago, when most of the live fashion shows were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and digital shows took their place, I had a moment of hope. I thought maybe fashion brands would seize the moment to do something new.
Instead of falling into cinematic comfort zones with perfume commercials and music videos, they walked across the aisle of the cinema and embraced a different form of storytelling. The stories would be quite more fictional and narrative in nature, and therefore absorbing; they used a collection to tell a story but did not make it the subject of the story, as advertisements do.
Really, I was thinking of Quibi, but with great clothes and no subscription: fast, fun, with insane production values.
With a few exceptions, this generally did not happen. But then Gucci announced that it was avoiding the regular program and replacing it with Guccifest, a week-long mini film festival featuring 15 short films by emerging designers from around the world, produced and paid for by Gucci.
And even better that it would include a premiere of a seven-part miniseries directed by Gus Van Sant and Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele, featuring Mr. Micheles’ new collection as well as Italian actress Silvia Calderoni. , alongside Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Jeremy O. Harris. I thought: finally! The breakthrough is here!
Be careful what you wish for.
Overture to Something That Never Ended, aka the Gucci miniseries, is a well-meaning, beautifully shot, crazily costumed, at times stimulating, philosophical sophomore, ultimately boring slog.
Mr. Van Sant has an incredible filmography, but of all his films, Overture has the most in common with this The ring once called Mr. Van Sants Sea of Trees, i.e. a Hallmark card that thinks he’s a haiku.
Essentially the story of a day in the life of Ms. Calderoni, a magnetic performer who erases the whole concept of gender, the film follows her from the moment she wakes up in a gorgeous old apartment with a random assortment of roommates across. his trips to Rome. : in a cafe filled with happy grooving people (including an inexplicably naked pair), a post office, a dance rehearsal by the Sasha Waltz troupe, vintage shopping with neighbors (actually Gucci purchases, which often look the same) and a night out at a friend’s house. As such, it is both pedantic and surreal. Also pedantically surreal.
Silvias’ world is populated by friends of Mr. Micheles in marketing parlance often referred to as Friends of the House who come of all ages, shades, shapes, gender identities and world famous levels. All were dressed willy-nilly by Mr. Michele in the new collection: 97 classic Gucci looks, accessorized to the hilt. Mr. Michele has never accepted that entire elegance is a thing of refusal.
There are sequins and looped check jackets and faded jeans and all logo; pompom hats and beanies and bags and belts and skateboards. Beautiful floral tea dresses, pastels covered with pearls and transparent lace; Shiny V-neck jumpers, jorts and tracksuits. Three-piece suits with wide lapels. A bunch of knee socks bundled at the ankle.
Puffs of Studio 54 and the comic book bourgeoisie and jock all blend together in the wacky and inclusive extravagance that is Mr. Micheles’ signature. There are also new Gucci labels, including one called Eschatology, which refers to a doctrine that explores the ultimate fate of humans and the universe, according to the brand. This is a lot at the request of some checkerboard flares.
And there is a little dialogue, although it feels more like an exhibition. Spanish philosopher Paul B. Preciado, speaking on a TV show, suddenly turns out of the box to Silvia (doing her morning yoga in a sheer velvet lace jumpsuit and flower pasty bra) to chat of a world beyond gender norms.
Achille Bonita Oliva, art critic, picks up the phone while waiting to send a letter and calls Mr. Styles, who hangs out in a garden (in jorts and pink sportswear), to discuss the compulsion to do ‘art. Florence Welch (in a luxury hippie fan-pleated dress) sneaks into the vintage store, secreting notes into purses and pockets: With the rain come secrets, tomorrow might be different. Lu Han (with mint green glasses and a seashell pink shirt) does some ironing and then quotes Silvia via intercom: Your body is like a pearl.
At a press conference ahead of the films’ release, Mr Michele said he wanted to release the clothes, that he no longer wanted them to be jailed in stores. The miniseries does this. His collection lives and breathes the characters, sometimes in a suffocating way. Some might want to rush to buy it because of it. And framing it as a series helps obscure the fact that in the midst of all the dresses, skirts, and shorts, there aren’t really any new ideas, the series itself is the idea. This is also the problem.
Because there is no tension or sharp edges, which allows you to watch until the end. Other than celebrity cameos: Mr. Van Sant in a plaid suit and Elton John-worthy specs included. In an age when the stakes for everyone are very high, even the simple act of stepping outside the stakes for the characters seems confusing. Still, thanks to Gucci for at least taking a risk at a time when other brands are collapsing.
Also, while Gucci may have failed in creating a cinematic fashion breakthrough, he did manage to build the empire further. By anointing, funding and bringing public attention to a wide variety of young designers under the umbrella of Guccifest (Mr. Michele called it a firefly party), the brand has positioned itself as a kingmaker. beneficent and consolidated its status as a creator of creative taste.
As for those other films, mostly under five minutes (as opposed to Gucci episodes, 10-20 minutes each), a number are worth watching. Designer Bianca Saunders has teamed up with filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr. to create a charming short film based on Hans Eijkelboom’s 1978 work The Ideal Man (which also has connotations of The Bachelor).
Mowalola Ogunlesi, the Nigerian-British designer who is also the Creative Director of the Kanye Wests Gap collection, envisioned an avatar-like fight-match world with animation artist David Killingworth. British designer Priya Ahluwalia and filmmaker Samona Olanipekun paid tribute to community leaders and matriarchs through a celebration of Afro-Caribbean rituals.
And Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour and artist Charlie Engman have turned her latest collection into a video game in which well-dressed avatars (including a mum of Mr. Engmans) manage to save the planet from climate change. It features a collapsing wand bridge and a rolling giant avocado.
A giant rolling avocado! I was on the edge of my seat.
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