In the wake of the pandemic—and climate crisis—that have disrupted the usual globe-spanning circus of fashion shows, the industry’s powerhouses have been pondering (and often abandoning) plans to shake up the fashion-show format.
Perhaps no fashion house seems to have thought as hard about the conundrum as Gucci, whose creative director, Alessandro Michele, posted a soul-searching letter on Instagram last May that declared the fashion brand would stage just two collections per year. He’s been tweaking and iterating since then. In August, the brand hosted a 12-hour livestream of the (admittedly rather mind-numbing) campaign photo shoot for its Resort 2021 collection, the last vestige of the fashion business as usual. It was an exorcism: The fashion show and its attendant “events” as we knew them were demons to be cast out.
On Thursday, the house made an exciting new proclamation of what the future looks like: a seven-day film festival launching this month. GucciFest, as it’s called, will feature a seven-part miniseries codirected by Michele and indie auteur Gus Van Sant. Titled OUVERTURE of Something That Never Ended, it will serve as the debut for Gucci’s new collection. The series stars Silvia Calderoni moving through her daily routine in Rome and encountering a cast plucked from an academic symposium, including the writer and philosopher Paul B. Preciado, playwright (and unofficial GQ muse) Jeremy O. Harris, and art critic Achille Bonito Oliva, as well as more traditional celebrities like Harry Styles and Billie Eilish. (Michele posted a very cool behind-the-scenes Instagram of himself wearing a bestial white faux shag coat and baseball cap with the Beverly Hills zip code embroidered on the back. Directing suits him!) Rather than mix the format of a runway show with the choreographed polish of video, as a handful of brands have done successfully in recent months, Gucci has created a short narrative film in which the characters are dressed entirely in Gucci. You may recall that GQ mused over the possibility of such a development back in July, when we first covered the digital menswear shows. The future, it comes so soon!
The miniseries isn’t all that GucciFest has to offer, though. It will also screen films highlighting the work of 15 emerging designers, including Ahluwalia, Shanel Campbell, Stefan Cooke, Mowalola, Bianca Saunders, Collina Strada, and Gareth Wrighton, among others. These designers were personally selected by Michele, the press release notes.
While it seems clear that video is the future of fashion, many of the films that debuted during what was ostensibly the Spring 2021 season were a bit…dull. Only a few brands, like Collina Strada, Marine Serre, Balenciaga, and Prada, embraced the full possibility of a new medium. Gucci’s film festival is a jolting, ambitious idea—an event in and of itself, giving viewers reason to tune in more than once. Somewhat mischievously, GucciFest might double as a kind of alternative Fashion Week, with the brand curating its own lineup of designers. It’s a wise way for a major brand to exercise its clout, and a creative way for it to engage its customers and the growing global audience of people who chase content, not silhouettes.