An epilogue it may have been, but it was sure a long one. And we, foolishly, sat through ten hours of it
The Gucci digital event dubbed Epilogue was broadcast for those who have time—a lot of it. A press release from their office here had informed us that the show would begin at 2pm, our time, and would last for 12 hours. That’s even longer than Peter Brook’s 1985 staging of Mahabharata (9-hours in length, if the unacquainted would like to know)! To be honest, we did not really sit for ten hours to watch the event: we let the PC run for that much of time. And came to it intermittently to see if anything was happening, like a brood of chickens looking for food or a couple of models jumping on a trampoline. Otherwise, the backstage peepshow revealed mostly models having their make-up done and getting dressed, and workmen doing whatever workmen do for fashion events.
The first sign that something was going to happen appeared at the sixth hour, around 8pm, just after we finished dinner and had done the dishes. This seemed like a good time for something substantive to happen. As it turned out, Gucci was sharing the look-book photos, with a brief (actually, not quite) intro from Alessandro Michele, explaining what he had done and was doing in his usual long, compound sentences. That was followed by the look-book snaps tagged onto the screen like a less organised Pinterest page, as well as clips of his references including mundane things such as vegetables. This was presumably the ‘show’ segment. They called it “The Final Act of a Fairy Tale.”
It was shot in the 478-year-old residence, Palazzo Sacchetti, considered one of the most important late Renaissance aristocratic buildings of Rome that, in 2017, was listed for sale at a whopping €57 million. Apple OS-style windows popped up against a video shot of the interior of this unoccupied home. The music accompanying this segment could have been inspired by Sega games, with their cheery electronic bleeps. As with Alessandro Michele’s version of Gucci, the tech, too, had to be retro. Even a spectrogram of the speaking voice was shown, making the overall visual composition appear like something from early Macintosh computers.
At around 10pm, we stopped our pre-bedtime routine to watch a male model doing his thing which was to, inexplicably, remove women’s underclothes from a clothes line and pile them on his right shoulder. It was not indicated if they manage to get that shot. An hour later, after our last drink of the night, we sat in front of our monitor to see a turbaned female model in a floor-length dress running down a garden path, pushing a wheelbarrow with one giant pumpkin in it. She did not make it to the end without first dropping a diamond-shaped, drop earring the size of her palm and then unloading the giant squash. Whether that shot became a success, we knew not. At midnight, with the photo shoot still going on, we decided to surrender to our bed.
This morning, when we were able to gather our thoughts after our four-fruit, steel-cut oat breakfast, and the tedious Gucci video had come to a halt while we were asleep, we felt that perhaps Gucci had created an impact as the closing show for Milan Fashion Week. Unfortunately, it was an arduous process to sit through as most of it was superfluous, and we are no gadflies on no wall. Was there a need to take experiential to such ridiculous lengths? Mr Michele said in his intro, “narrating it this way, and presenting this way, to the press, to the outside world, looking inside the mechanism of an advertising campaign like a peeping tom, is interesting to me as an element that disassociates the narrative of fashion from the show, from the representation itself.”
Perhaps, Gucci fans might find watching the going-ons “like a peeping tom” appealing, but for many members of the press who have attended tons of photo shoots in similar conditions (except without masks), there was no sexual gratification in surreptitiously watching people at work. Moreover, one can hardly call Gucci clothes sexy. The Tom Ford era is long gone. Rather than offering us a “front row seat”, as other brands had proffered, Gucci has made room on one of the ornate walls of the Palazzo Sacchetti for us to hang on to to peep into his advertising shoot. Do people care about the minutiae of the production of fashion images, especially those not entirely perceptible? This was more banking on the voyeuristic nature of Netizens so susceptible to all manner of ‘porn’ than truly giving pleasure to those of us for whom fashion can be enjoyed as personal pursuit and celebrated as artistic expression.
The look-book shots for the Cruise 2021 collection (not spring) gave an impression that the assembling was still in the process. It is perhaps cute that the photos come with Sick-It notes, detailing each style. We also know from this that Gucci used the staff from their design studio, who, perhaps unsurprisingly carry the Gucci look to a T. Why the company bothered to cast from modelling agencies when they could have sourced from within, we may never know. The photos cleverly suggest that indeed anyone can wear Gucci and look Gucci.
By now we know what that look is. Five years into his tenure as the main—and mane—man of the house, Alessandro Michelle continues to prove that his vintage-y looks gathered from various sources and across various eras, and put together as a collagist does, and then given a veneer of philosophical musings, are what fashion folks want. It does not matter that all the excess is surface, under which little is gravitas. The collection thus benefits from our no-description. We have said as much as necessary of Gucci under Mr Michelle and if his looks don’t vary, neither will our view.
Screen grabs: gucci.com