How Gucci is Leveraging the Power of Illustration

Gucci has released new imagery for their Gucci Beauty line, featuring hand-drawn illustrations by Nouri Flayhan. The collaboration is just the latest in a series of recent partnerships between the luxury house and freelance artists/illustrators, sparking a larger discussion about how brands can use their multi-media platforms to support young talent while simultaneously furthering their own goals.

Making a living through freelance illustration can be a daunting challenge because the market is saturated with gifted artists all vying for their moment in the spotlight. Gucci is able to elevate its role as taste-makers by zeroing in on the best from this pool of artistic talent and commissioning them to promote both themselves and Gucci’s latest product offerings. Making strong visual choices and casting a wide net, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has carved out a niche for the brand that is both conceptual, visionary, and distinctive, all without the use of live models and photoshoots.

Flayhan’s release came with more narrative than the drawings themselves as an interview with the artist lives on Gucci’s site in which she talks about the inspirations behind her work, as well as the influence of her Lebanese heritage. “I wanted to change the narrative of the stories that were being shared about being Arabic and a woman of colour,” explains the artist. “I wanted to take control of that and start writing our stories as they should be told.” The story serves to promote the artist’s vision, social justice, and the label itself which is a triple play worth noting as design houses today play a bigger role in society than simply making stuff.

Flayhan isn’t Gucci’s only recent art tie in; the brand also launched an art exhibition in Seoul built around the idea of utopian places in which new empowering narratives can take form. Synergistically, the brand is achieving this goal with its illustrative collaborations as well.

In addition to art exhibits and beauty product promotions, Michele’s curatorial instincts were recently applied to Gucci’s timepieces with a whimsical short animated film by Shanghai-based illustrator Winnie Chi, and disarmingly child-like impasto paintings created by London-based artist Cambo.

Other characters in the parade of Gucci timepiece promotional materials are the weirdly beautiful swan people by Margot Ferrick. A perusal through the artist’s Instagram reveals a refreshingly non-commercial world inhabited by strange, hairy, and at times unsettling creatures. The artist describes her idiosyncratic work for Gucci as follows: “The swan people are something I’ve been trying to draw for years. I’m also generally into old computers and keyboards as well as space stations and machinery so I tried to incorporate these interests.” 

The Impression previously covered collaborations between Gucci and Japanese illustrator Yuko Higuchi, as well as Gucci Beauty cartoons by Italian artist Emma Allegretti. We are happy to see that the partnership between Gucci and Allegretti continued this past week with the release of a charming stop-motion film about a self-loving make-up routine.

We hope that these illustrative partnerships continue, and bring our readers as much joy as they have brought to us. And perhaps more importantly, we want to draw attention to the stellar work that Gucci is doing by using the brand’s prominence to help catapult these young artists to new and greater heights. In these challenging times, luxury fashion houses have a responsibility to use their power for the greater good. Alessandro Michele and Gucci are doing this by giving a diverse group of international artists seats at the table, and introducing the brand’s sizable fanbase to an ever-increasing roster of young talent. By fostering an intersubjective reality in which empowering new narratives take form, Gucci is creating its own utopia that exists within the minds of its followers.