Alessandro Michele “Hacks” Balenciaga for his Gucci Aria Collection

It was intense. Perhaps because we’ve been locked down for over a year, Alessandro Michele’s Gucci resort 2022 collection, throbbed with a special kind of ‘out–out’ energy. You know the feeling – when you’ve spent hours getting ready and have never looked better? You arrive at the club, sail past the velvet rope and are about to make your entrance. Your favourite tune is playing in your head and you are unstoppable. You don’t know it yet, but this will be the best night of your life.

This was the premise for the Gucci Aria collection mini-movie – ten minutes of vivid fashion, visual drama and musical overload – which perfectly captured the pent-up desire to dress up, party and lose yourself in the moment. With Gucci marking its centenary this year, there’s every reason to celebrate and so the Gucci Gang (soundtracked by Lil Pump, Rick Ross, Bhad Bhabie and Die Antwoord) went clubbing in their finest looks – including a pink marabou chubbies, sheer nude floor-length lace and a crystal-encrusted miniature shaped like an anatomically correct human heart. Every angle of their extreme fabulosity captured as they catwalked down a brightly-lit corridor lined with flashing cameras.

This film had all the OTT energy and slick sexiness and bravado of an early noughties Hype Williams promo. Did I say sexiness? The equestrian heritage of the house came to the fore. This wasn’t a National Velvet version of horsey glamour but something more provocative. With several of the models accessorising with leather whips and cracking them provocatively as they walked, this collection had a lip-licking libido we haven’t seen on a Gucci catwalk since the Tom Ford showed thongs. Michele also revived Ford’s red velvet 1996 tuxedo, worn in 2021 with a leather harness by girls and boys alike.

Other wow moments? Michele reinterpreted some of Demna Gvasalia’s most memorable Balenciaga silhouettes. His hourglass jacket, the off-the-shoulder parka, the spandex trouser-boots, came in Gucci’s horse-bit monogram, famous flora print or even a crystalline version of the diagonal repeating Balenciaga logo. This was not a collaboration, the house was at pains to explain, but an exercise in “quotation”. Michele described it as a, “hacking lab of incursions and metamorphosis,” all done with Gvasalia’s blessing.

Whatever you call these instantly iconic, power couple pieces (Balenciucci? Gucciaga?), they will be retail gold. As Gucci enters its 100th year, Michele delivered a mighty fashion moment.

Photography courtesy of Gucci.