The rumours are true: Gucci and Balenciaga teamed up (sort of), and the results were on full display in Gucci Aria, a film by Floria Sigismondi and Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele.
However, Michele doesn't consider this a collaboration. According to the press release, the crossover is a "hacking" of Balenciaga's creative director Demna Gvasalia's "nonconformist rigor." Here's another way of putting it: Michele is "swiping a selection of his Balenciaga designs for the Aria collection." Call it what you want, it's a sight to behold.
The 15-minute clip filled with "Gucci"-centric songs by Lil Pump, Bhad Bhabie, and Rick Ross shows off Michele's newest collection, which marks Gucci's 100th birthday. (Highlight: The cueing up of Rick Ross's "Green Gucci Suit" just as a model in a velvet green suit strutted down the runway.) There were major equestrian vibes, with models in riding boots and hats carrying riding crops down the runway. But these looks aren't intended for the stable. Delicate lace layers, brightly colored feather and fur accents, and exquisitely tailored velvet suits in jewel tones made these ensembles something thoroughly glamorous.
Of course, the real standouts of the collection were the pieces that featured both the Gucci and Balenciaga logos. There were Gucci handbags with gold Balenciaga "B" buckles. And sequined suits emblazoned with the names of both houses cut in the hourglass silhouette that Gvasalia has become known for. Most exciting might be how Gucci combined Balenciaga signatures like big square shoulders and sparkly fabrics to create something entirely singular.
Both fashion houses are no strangers to collaborations: Gucci x North Face earlier this year; the Balenciaga designed Crocs back in 2017. But a collection that sees the meeting of two designers of this caliber is still surprising in the luxury fashion world, even if both brands are owned by Kering.
That said, this high-end co-op by Gucci feels rather on-brand for the Italian fashion house. Under Michele, Gucci has flipped the script of what a fashion show looks like. After leaving the official Fashion Month calendar, in November, the brand threw their own GucciFest that not only showcased the new collection in a series of films but also spotlighted emerging designers.
For Michele, this new collection is about evolution. It's "an alchemical factory of contaminations where everything connects to anything," he wrote in a statement. "A place where thefts and explosive reactions happen: a permanent generator of sparkles and unpredictable desires."
In text messages between Michele and Gvasalia, which were posted to Gucci's Instagram Story, the two talk about missing in-person fashion shows and the importance of the 100-year-old brand. Gvasalia even remembers, in the '90s, buying a tiny sample bottle of Gucci Envy perfume because, according to him, it was the only thing he could get in post-USSR Georgia where he's from. "I actually still have at home," he writes.
Gvasalia also seemed to be a fan of Gucci's latest collection, writing that "it looks really cool how you translated those pieces into your universe."
To see the translations IRL, watch the video below.