Gucci’s latest campaign is a collaboration with legendary photography duo Pierre et Gilles, and the results are spectacular.
Pierre and Gilles are celebrated both for the formal innovation of their work and for their importance and influence on the art and fashion underground. The duo created artistically complex, often homoerotic imagery of LGBTQIA+ subculture in the ’80s and ’90s during times when there was very little positive LGBT imagery in the mainstream. They met in autumn 1976 at the opening of a Kenzo boutique in Paris and began living together soon after, and started creating art together in 1977. Generally considered part of the “fine art” world, the pair have also always been very influenced by fashion photography, and have photographed many great artists such as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, and Iggy Pop, along with many LGBTQIA+ subculture figures and icons. Traditionally Pierre takes the photos and Gilles paints over the images to enhance and embellish them, creating a unique work that exists somewhere between the two mediums.
Reflecting on the exciting opportunity to collaborate with them on the campaign, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele says:
I’ve always wanted to collaborate with Pierre et Gilles. I like their idea of estrangement from reality, their dialogue with fantasy, with the surreal and with the sacred linked to pop. I find there are many connections with my work. If there is something that needs surrealism and transcendentalism, it is precisely the idea of perfume, so it was therefore natural to work with them on this project.
— Alessandro Michele
The images perfectly capture that idea of delicately scented surrealism. Lavishly bedecked, a fresh-faced model reclines in an Arcadian dreamworld, embraced by flowers and pink clouds. The unique combination of painting and photography imbues the image with the sense of the surreal or the fantastical – it is larger than life – yet remains grounded in its photographic realism. Like perfume, it combines elements of the natural to suggest a transcendent rapture that lies beyond.
Alongside the photography campaign, Gucci has also released a brief video which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the process of its creation. It is a wonderful treat to get a glimpse at the unique process of these iconic artists, and it makes the effortless beauty of the final work even more impressive to see the painstaking labor of love behind it.
Alessandro Michele certainly knows how to pick them. It is a testament to his understanding of his own work and that of others that he can so brilliantly recognize when a collaboration will be fruitful, when the artists’ visions will enhance each other. This particular campaign especially shows off his unconventional brilliance; Pierre and Gilles are an exceptionally smart collaborative choice for it, and indeed it could not have happened without them.
Gucci Creative Director | Alessandro Michele Art Direction | Christopher Simmonds Art & Photography | Pierre et Gilles Additional Photography | Anton Gottlob Model | Unia Makeup | Thomas de Kluyver & Lauren Reynolds Hair | Alex Brownsell Videographers | Jeremy Valender & Mark Acgee