The past and future of art collide in Look 88 of Gucci’s Cruise 2018 collection, a jacquard knitted jacket with hearts and Alessandro Michele’s signature Blind For Love motifs over a T-shirt featuring an illustration by artist Ignasi Monreal
Credit: Dan Lecca/Courtesy of Gucci

In many ways, Antianatomy felt like something of a homecoming for Gucci. Not only did Alessandro Michele return the label to its birthplace in Florence, but to the birthplace of a movement that has shaped both so much of what the designer has accomplished at Gucci and the course of contemporary thought itself.

The Cruise 2018 presentation took place in the gilded Palazzo Pitti’s six Palatine Galleries, home to over 500 exquisite renderings of High Renaissance art. Outside, the 16th century Boboli Gardens proved to be just as influential on Michele, with accessories like wool tote bags emblazoned with the word ‘Florentia’, from the Latin for ‘Florence’; and beneath that, the words ‘L’orto di Giove’, or the ‘Garden of Jupiter’ after one of the open-air museums in the spectacular Boboli Gardens.

Inside the galleries, audience members like Elton John, Beth Ditto, Kirsten Dunst, Jared Leto, Dev Hynes, Soko, Donald Glover and Saoirse Ronan sat on stools embroidered with the words from A Song to Bacchus, a poem written in the late 15th century by Lorenzo de Medici, one of the most powerful figures of the Renaissance era (as close to a celebrity of the time as history will allow for).

“How beautiful our youth is that’s always flying by us!” reads de Medici’s poem. “Who’d be happy, let him be so: Nothing’s sure about tomorrow.”

At left, a still from Ignasi Monreal’s first collaboration with Gucci; at right, the scene at Palazzo Pitti’s Palatine Galleries, site of the Gucci Cruise 2018 show
Credit: Courtesy of the artist/Gucci

Past, present and future were (and have been) weighing heavily on the mind of Michele of late, and the designer has said in interviews that the collection was a mediation on the centres of culture and power both then – antique Greek and Roman culture – and now: Los Angeles in particular.

That commingling of past and present was felt keenly in each look, perhaps none more so than in the 88th exit: a jacquard knitted jacket with hearts and Michele’s signature Blind For Love motifs over a T-shirt featuring an illustration by the artist Ignasi Monreal, who was part of the first instalment of the label’s #GucciGram project in October 2015.

Monreal, Barcelona-born and London-based, has entertained frequent collaborations with some of fashion and music’s biggest names, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Christine and the Queens and perhaps most notably FKA twigs, for whom he created the illustrations for her iconic Two Weeks video in collaboration with Nabil, as well as portraits for her merchandise and visuals for her side projects. His process is entirely digital, and consists of creating composite illustrations that draw heavily from photographs – found fashion imagery in particular – sourced on the Internet and proliferated on social media.

It’s fitting then that, amidst impossibly decadent surrounds of antiquit,  his painterly video work from #GucciGram should have appeared in its second life as part of one of Michele’s bowerbird, decontextualising ensembles – part of an offering that draws so richly on references from the past to create an unparalleled vision for the future. Nothing is sure about tomorrow, after all.

Tile image: Dan Lecca/Courtesy of Gucci
Cover image: Ronan Gallagher/Courtesy of Gucci