Since Alessandro Michele’s appointment as Gucci’s Creative Director in 2015, the brand has been living through its own period of Renaissance; a rebirth, a re-thinking of the fashion house’s image. The brand’s image has metamorphosed into a homage to sculpture and painting. Michele; a native-born Roman, constantly seeks inspiration in his hometown’s rich visual resources. Just within the brand’s headquarters in Rome, a fresco by Rafaello decorates the ceilings. It is no surprise that art is located at the very nucleus of the brand. In a 2016 interview with the New York Times, Michele said: “old things make me feel very contemporary.” His genius lies in his ability to immerse himself in the past and creatively re-engage with it in ways that have never been done before.
Michele’s most recent venture with Gucci is the handbag line GG Marmont which is being advertised through a series of photographs shot by Julia Hetta. The photographs are a direct reference to Dutch still-life paintings, a genre which Michele has sought inspiration from with past collections. The choice is very interesting because, as an advertisement for luxury handbags made from the finest materials, it does not stray far from the motive behind the creation of these original paintings.
The Netherlands experienced vast economic growth in the 17th century, which was mainly kickstarted by their trade prowess. They ruled the waves around the globe, importing goods globally, resulting in a period of great economic prosperity, which in turn brought about still-life painting. Art historians have offered a number of reasons for the birth of this genre; some suggest that the food speaks to the transience of time, as it has a limited life span, in other words, a ‘memento mori’. The most prominent interpretation, however, is that they were tied to ideas of luxury and decadence. In essence, well-to-do patrons commissioned artists including Pieter Claesz, Ambrosius Bosschaert and Jan Deavidsz de Heem to showcase their country’s achievements and wealth.
The GG Marmont campaign follows the idea and the visuals closely, through the beautiful and dramatic contrasts between light and darkness and the handbags being set amongst foods and objects that would have typically been depicted in 17th-Century still-lives. To add another layer of similarity, the line sees the revival of the ‘Double G’ logo, which has now been put at the forefront of the campaign by Michele. Just as a still-life painting and its representations of luxury and fine living would have been immediately recognisable, the ‘Double G’ has the same connotations. Michele’s maximalist approach to design is the same as the Dutch painters had when creating these artworks; the more ‘Double Gs’ and food, the merrier!
Gucci’s GG Marmont bags are available online and in selected stores now.