Nearly every anniversary is cause for celebration but a centenary is a truly special event; as Gucci turns 100 years old this year, the Italian luxury label has much to recognize. Despite pandemic-smothered financials, Gucci remains the planet’s hottest fashion brand, leading the pack in technological advancements and world-building. To kick off its 100th anniversary celebration, Gucci has debuted “Aria,” its latest co-ed collection and runway show, which is perhaps most notably capped by a Balenciaga “collaboration,” confirming the rumblings heard earlier this week.

According to Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, at least, it’s not a collaboration at all — Michele instead has “pilfered” various Gucci eras — in a conversation shared to Gucci’s Instagram Stories, Michele called Tom Ford’s Gucci “genius” — and mashed them up with elements of Demna Gvasalia‘s Balenciaga, as a part of a “Hacking Lab.”

These co-branded blazers, fur jackets and accessories mingle with hats branded with a commemorative “100” and some “Savoy Club”-emblazoned items, which reference the hotel that Guccio Gucci worked at before founding his eponymous label. Of course, there’s also a collaborative playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

Gucci is of course no stranger to collaboration, having partnered with franchises, fashion brands and artists since Michele took the house’s reigns in early 2015. Similarly, Balenciaga has dished out quirky collaborations, unexpected partnerships and even celebrated its parent, Kering, with some very meta wearables, perhaps offering an early hint at the crossover shenanigans to come.

Though Supreme x Louis Vuitton likely remains the most landmark luxury collaboration of our era, the years since have seen all manner of unexpected partnerships. From UNDERCOVER and Valentino to Onitsuka Tiger and Givenchy, each season delivers a wealth of new joint efforts.

In that sphere, few do it better than Kim Jones, who has continued grabbing headlines in the wake of his Supreme x LV collection by way of the constant artist partnerships he oversees at Dior. Even with names like Daniel Arsham and KAWS, however, the Dior Air Jordan 1 stands as his crowning achievement in terms of sheer cultural collaborative relevance.

This endeavor with Balenciaga may be Gucci’s highest profile intersection to date and its anchored by plenty of Gucci fanservice, realized through loads of retro-cool ready-to-wear, branded bags, hats, shoes and jewelry. Even if customers shy away from the co-branded goods — though it’s unlikely they will, if they have the funds for them — “Aria” has plenty more conventional Gucci goods to offer.

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