When Alessandro Michele was appointed Gucci’s creative director in 2015, a seismic shift could be felt throughout the industry. Spring forward to now, and the long-haired fashion maverick continues to challenge the status quo with his cutting-edge designs, awash with historical and pop culture references. The brand’s autumn/winter 2022 collection—aptly titled Exquisite—featured a surprising collaboration with Adidas, while its campaign and accompanying film is an ode to legendary auteur Stanley Kubrick’s body of work.
“The strange marriage between the codes of Adidas and Gucci was a chemical experiment, in the most ambiguous way,” the designer remarks gleefully over Zoom from his atelier in Rome. “So, I approached the campaign similarly. I had the intention of placing the collection in Kubrick’s iconic scenes, where my clothes exist organically in his world, but feel completely alien at the same time—it’s my tribute to cinema and to one of its brightest maestros.”
Lensed and directed by photographic duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, with art direction by Michele’s long-time collaborator Christopher Simmonds and replicas of original costume designs curated by Milena Canonero and Charlotte Walter—visually, the results are extraordinary. The sets, designed by Gideon Ponte, precisely replicate Kubrick’s most notable scenes—from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), to Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
“Getting to collaborate with all of the incredible people, and especially on the costumes with Canonero, who’s even more obsessive than me, was a pleasure, because she has a history of working with Kubrick, which is incredible. For a project like this to come alive, you need to work with the very best,” notes Michele of some of his highlights from working on the project. “But the outdoor shots inspired by Barry Lyndon, where we placed the white Victorian-inspired dress with the Adidas stripes naturally mixed into a group of people dressed in clothes from that era—that was one of my favourite moments.”
Like all creative endeavours on such a scale, the journey inevitably had its hiccups. “There was always a challenge to face, and bringing a lot of people together from different specialisms and parts of the world was hard,” says Michele, “One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome was getting access to pieces from the actual movies, because not everything was preserved properly, so we had to recreate certain pieces quickly, but with precision.” He also notes that the casting wasn’t easy. “Finding the right faces for each scene took a lot of time—it was almost like working on an actual movie.”
What does Michele hope viewers take away from seeing the campaign and its film? “I want the world to always feel that anything is possible with Gucci,” he says with a smile. “Whether it’s anyone on my team, or someone I work with: If we can imagine it, we can make it a reality.”
2001: A Space Odyssey and all related characters and elements © & ™ Turner Entertainment Co. A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining and all related characters and elements © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
This story was originally published on British Vogue.