Last night, in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, a smattering of fashion editors stood before Botticelli’s famous The Primavera (or the Allegory of Spring). “This is a painting with many secrets,” explained a docent who was decked out in Gucci, a cornflower-blue shirt with a high neck and ruffles. According to her retelling, one of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance had more love triangles and plot twists than an episode of Game of Thrones.
The unexpected history lesson set the tone for the rest of the extravagant, art-filled evening. Guests like Elton John, Jared Leto, Donald Glover, Dakota Johnson, and Kirsten Dunst were invited to walk the kilometer-long, private (and normally off-limits) Vasari Corridor above the Arno river, which connects the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Vecchio. Pink cocktails, garnished with tiny, edible flowers were served as the sun began to set over the Giardino del Cavaliere, turning the entire city that golden-caramel color it’s so famous for.
Eventually, the crowd made its way into the vibrant Palatine gallery in the Palazzo Pitti. A bright-yellow carpet stretched throughout, creating a modern counterpart to the elaborate, Baroque frescoes above. Guests sat on small folding stools printed with the poem “Trionfo di Bacco” (a Song for Bacchus), which is worth reading in full, but is best summed up with this stanza:
Midas follows all the others:
Turns to gold the things he touches.
Where’s the joy in owning treasure,
If it doesn’t give you pleasure?
And where’s the sweet taste for a man
Who only feels his thirst forever?
Who’d be happy, let him be so:
Nothing’s sure about tomorrow.
It’s a sentiment that encapsulates the very notion of a cruise collection, meant for the vacations and escapes of the one percent. The show built on the eclectic and opulent vocabulary Alessandro Michele developed over the last several seasons — one that celebrates eccentricity and borrows liberally from a wide array of cultural and artistic references (Italian, Japanese, British, African-American, etc.). Michele has previously toyed with the notion of “fake” Gucci, poking at the idea of authenticity and who has access to bootlegging and appropriating the Gucci logo, even inviting known copyright-infringers to collaborate with the brand. Several pieces in this show had the words “GUCCY” and “Guccification” spelled out on the garments in large black letters — presumably a nod to the way the brand gets swept up in popular appropriation, and appropriates in turn. Michele often blurs the line, as if to prove it won’t diminish the appeal of the brand. One look seems like a direct homage to Dapper Dan, the Harlem couturier who famously used both real and fake Gucci in his designs. Here’s hoping Gucci collaborates with Dan in the future.
Other highlights from the show included a floral, quilted anorak; pearl-encrusted hair; and men with tiaras of golden leaves — as if the cherubs, nymphs, and princes from the many paintings around the galleries had flown from the canvases to share the secrets of the past with the modern world.
At the end of the night Beth Ditto, clad in a sparkling green turban, sang amid the cypress trees of the Serre Torrigiani garden. “Take my wife,” she joked from the small stage, belting out her songs while gently ribbing the crowd for being so rich. It was a Bacchanian end to an evening worthy of the god of partying himself. And as the poem says, “Who’d be happy, let him be so: Nothing’s sure about tomorrow.”