For the avoidance of doubt: the Gucci and Balenciaga ‘hack’ – the term the former has insisted on using for the Aria collection – is not the first collaboration between two major creative directors. Last year, Miuccia Prada teamed up with Raf Simons to design collections for the house and in 2017, Louis Vuitton worked with Supreme to release a line that featured everything from hoodies to skateboards, wallets and bags.
However, what Alessandro Michele of Gucci has created with Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga is different. Just like the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collection, some pieces featured the logos of the sister brands so brazenly that it was almost blinding. But unlike other partnerships, this Gucci-Balenciaga ‘hack’ seemed more like a synthesis of the elements both brands are known for.
The Aria fashion show started with a male model in a red velvet suit – a homage to Tom Ford’s Gucci tenure – walking into a club named Savoy. He walks down a red-lit hallway to another hallway full of flashing lights and cameras. And this is where the show begins.
Models began to strut down in unmistakable Balenciaga-esque pieces, but covered in Gucci logo: one in a pair of Balenciaga leggings-boots, but – you guessed right – covered in Gucci logo. Another in the boots and a stretchy ruched ice skater top that first appeared in Balenciaga Spring 2017, but this time with the green and red Gucci stripe. Yet another in Balenciaga florals, but carrying the name “Gucci.” And on and on it went. Pieces and silhouettes we have come to associate with one brand carrying the name or logo of the other. It was mind-twisting but in a fun way.
According to Michele, the basis of this project is simply this: “To plan the future, we need to change the past. I appeal to such ability to reinhabit what has already been given. To escape the reactionary cages of purity, I pursue the poetics of the illegitimate.”
Of course, the fashion media world has something to say about this hack. The major consensus is that this might move from a mere project to a full-blown trend, a feat that both directors are famous for. If this happens, what does it portend for the world of luxury fashion?
Remember when the question on everyone’s lips was whether Louis Vuitton menswear creative director and founder of Off-White, Virgil Abloh, was truly lifting designs from lesser-known brands or not? Well, if this Gucci-Balenciaga ‘hack’ takes off, we will see a new era in luxury fashion where plagiarism may no longer be a word. Instead, re-imagined pieces of other luxury brands (with their approval of course) will be perfectly normal, and even trendy.
Should this happen, both Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia would once again be pioneers in the world of luxury fashion. And this in itself is no mean feat, especially when it is juxtaposed with the fad-loving, hype-driven world we currently live in.