This exhibition is a story of travel. A journey from luxury and detail to iconic status. But this trip does not end there. The ever-expansive and innovative brand of Gucci continues ascending as you are cosmically immersed in the sensory experience of the brand.
Gucci Cosmos is Located at 180 The Strand, a cultural centre nurturing and celebrating creativity through its exhibition spaces. An unassuming brutalist building, it’s inconceivable to imagine it contains the entire expanse of Gucci history and innovation. Inside these concrete walls another universe has been constructed, the universe of the most prevalent luxury Italian fashion brand. This exhibition does not tell a story purely with words, or pictures framed neatly on the walls. It unravels, celebrates, discusses, transports, and questions.
Your travels through the history of Gucci begin in a replica of the Savoy Hotel lobby, where founder Guccio Gucci worked as a porter. Into the ascending room, lacquered in red like freshly painted nails, you are situated in the lift where he spent his days observing the extravagances and intricacies of high fashion worn by guests.
As you exit the lift at Gucci departures, a conveyor belt of suitcases exhibits Luggage as the brand's starting point. A panorama of interpretations of the suitcase showcases Gucci's ability to transform an essential mundane object into pieces of extravagance, quality, and luxury. Selecting your favourite and taking it on your travels through the exhibition is incredibly tempting. I was rather drawn to a delicious Gucci monogrammed guitar case, though I cannot play the guitar.
Sweeping corridors are inscribed with the history and formation of Gucci’s identity. From the initiation of the horse bit in 1953, the design of the iconic floral prints in 1966, and the debut of their monogram in 1969. Factual portals explore the formational influences of their creative directions: Tom Ford’s sleek modernity and sexuality to Alexandria Michelle's celebration of self-expression and inclusivity. The history of Gucci is evident in the Gucci of today.
A corner is turned, and you are submerged in darkness. Curated words, factual details, and histories slip away. A single quote illuminates the wall:
‘You are made of stardust.
You are everything and everything is part of you.
you are a cosmos.’
This perhaps defines the purpose of this exhibition. Gucci is not just a brand or a trend. It has become a timeless entity and a demonstration of the power of fashion and the emotion it can evoke. To observe the intergalactic detail of a Gucci garment or be adorned in this opulence is an otherworldly experience. The nine installations throughout exhibit this creatively:
The ‘Archivio’ was essentially the walk-in wardrobe of dreams. Marie Kondo herself couldn’t have done a better job of organisation. Each cupboard holds either a Gucci bag you would give your first child or a unique piece of photographic archive. I enjoyed both, I promise. But I really did love bags.
The cabinet of wonders, an ominous revolving cube, holding one-of-a-kind pieces, was a spectacle. Many of the pieces showcased many of Gucci’s arguably impractical but decadent garments and accessories. It reinforced how every item they design is an individual piece of craftsmanship to be stared at in awe. It also inspired me to put a jewelled diamanté headpiece on my Christmas wish list.
Despite being a fashion-related exhibition, arguably only a handful of the garments from their extensive archive were used to punctuate the immersive journey. The main narrative was told through music and dialogue or visual displays and installations. Perhaps this suggests the creativity of the Gucci vision emanates beyond the products they produce. Their products are not to only be worn, but experienced and celebrate the individual. The exhibition explores the fantasy that clothes provide us, the performance of dress, how we project ourselves in our histories, and how we long to be in the future.
The Gucci brand escapes an adjective that encapsulates its whole identity, heritage, and creativity. Arguably the collection of phrases and fragments depicted in the Gucci ‘Ancora’ installation such as ‘lots and lots of kisses’ to ‘early morning of a party’ capture the ineffable vibrancy of this brand. This final room ends the journey. It invites us to express ourselves freely and revel in the joy of life, passions, and humanity. It’s what Gucci would have wanted.
Gucci: Cosmo Exhibition is now open at 180 Strand until 31 December 2023
Students can buy tickets from £10.00
Edited by Megan, Fashion Editor