When Alessandro Michele first took over Gucci in 2015, he famously stated that “fashion was talking about something that didn’t exist anymore, this kind of posh world of beautiful legs and beautiful hair. I was just talking about humanity. I was trying to find a new energy in the street, not in the jet set.” But while Michele’s vision of placing his irreverent tropes within real-life narratives has materialised in numerous forms — a Cruise menswear collection lookbook with Cannes’ tourist-laden beachfront as its backdrop, for instance — his Chinese New Year 2020 collection, which launches this month in stores, takes on the mainstream, a Disney kind of mainstream to be exact.
The Gucci collection is a tribute to the Year of the Rat, and who best to front it than the most iconic rodent of pop culture? Designed in collaboration with Disney, Michele places Mickey Mouse front and centre within his idiosyncratic patchwork of quirky vintage looks, insouciant cool, geek-chic women and androgynous men. The smiley face of Mickey is conspicuously emblazoned on Gucci’s classic monogram, from backpacks to track jackets.
In California, Disneyland’s theme park played stage to the collection’s campaign. The imagery is lensed by the director of 1997 sci-fi flick “Gummo”, Harmony Korine, with creative direction and styling by Michele himself. Playfully set as holiday postcards, models, dressed in Mickey Mouse-covered jumpers, are seen on a magic teacup ride, or taking a spin of the log flume with their Gucci bucket hats on, while Chinese actress and Gucci ambassador Ni Ni takes a picture with Mickey against Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
For the past several years, it has somewhat become de rigueur for luxury brands to launch special campaigns and limited edition pieces in tandem with Chinese New Year. It only makes sense: a large part of their market is strongly based in the eastern part of the world. But it’s also more important than ever for brands to get these campaigns and products just right. Consumers are increasingly on the lookout for cultural insensitivities. And perhaps with his relevant and playful take on the rat, Michele got things right.
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