Gucci takes travelators to heaven in its S/S 2020 show set
A monastic all-white show set, housed inside a sleek monochromatic box like a Brutalist place of worship. Church-like arches lined with grinding electrical shutters, revealing models moving through a metal chair-lined space on four aqua-toned airport travelators, like an oddly animated stairway to heaven, or a purgatorial departure lounge.
Compared to the reflective mirror-swathed disco ball A/W 2019 show set last season, Gucci’s S/S 2020 show set at its Piuarch-designed hub had a pared-back, ecclesiastical air. Part all white place of worship, part an eerie hospital or sterile spaceship you’d imagine when waking up after a general anaesthetic.
Last season, a 100m long mirrored runway was almost blindingly floodlit with 120,000 flashing and reflected LED lights, concealing clothing details from view. Conversely for spring a clinical sky tessellated with star-shaped lights, first projecting an urgent red hue then turning white, bought Gucci’s S/S 2020 clothing into focus. Added emphasis came in glowing rows of strip lighting that lined the Perspex walls of travelators and the ceiling space directly above them.
‘Focus’ is an apt way to describe the company’s recent structural efforts, where, of late, every item in its supply chain, has been closely examined. Bringing an X-Ray lens to its manufacturing processes, Gucci announced earlier this month that it is now entirely carbon neutral, offsetting all green house emissions annually from its entire operations and supply chains.
If Alessandro Michele has been ironically pigeonholed by his encyclopaedic references, and post modern mash up of genres, shapes and symbolism, S/S 2020 pushed a new perspective. The show began with the crunching sound of metal as the shutters on its arches were lifted. Through them appeared Michele’s first batch of models, moving zombie-like down the travelator runways, in eerily simplistic all white looks resembling straight jackets with thick buckles and grubby mental asylum pyjamas. Mid way through the show the red light flickered before plunging the audience into darkness amidst the buzzing sounds of lightbulbs blowing. Then, the electronic voice of Crash Land (Bijoux Remix), ‘This is the way to do it’ ushered in a new uplifting mood. Models took to the catwalk in a simplified – yet still ostentatious – take on Michele’s mindset, clad in flared 1970s suiting, lace negligees and chainmail gowns, carrying fetishistic riding crops and horsebit detail handbags.
The set, which was a sublime blend of the interstellar and the ecclesiastical was a striking symbol of future hope. Not simply a motif for a heavenly world, it was organised according to the ISO 20121, an international standard that defines the sustainability of an event taking into consideration its environmental, social and economic aspects. Seventy per cent of the set’s materials were recycled or reused, lighting was LED, show invitations were produced using FSC paper, single use plastic was eliminated.
Ostentatious and overblown catwalk design, and the incredible waste and energy it can create, has been a prescient environmental topic in recent seasons. It’s something that Milan’s catwalks are confronting head on. On Friday, Marni created a jungle-inspired installation on its catwalk, created by Berlin artist Judith Hopf. Palm tree fronds were made from ucycled plastic bottles from the brand’s S/S 2020 men’s show in June.
Like the models moving along Gucci’s travelator runways, clad in colourful dresses, retro shapes and smatterings of costume jewellery, the show venue design was a symbol of a brand moving animatedly into the future under a star-lined sky. §