“A mask is empty, but also full”, says Alessandro Michele, Creative Director at Gucci. Masks, an ancient and mysterious concept, are the central theme for the Gucci Fall 2019 collection. Following philosophies from Hannah Arendt, the fashion house traces the origin of the word ‘person’ to the Latin ‘persona’, which referred to an actor’s mask in a play. Just as those masks were used to indicate their roles to the audiences, we today also use various masks to present ourselves on the world stage.
[Hero image: Sonny Vandevelde. Featured image: Giacomo Cabrini.]
This Gucci collection is a special play on the ambiguities of masks. Exploring masks not just as a tool of concealment and inauthenticity, Gucci presents masks as an object of freedom. Gucci’s mask allows us the freedom to show ourselves as we please – a new kind of authenticity. This mask is a double-edged weapon, showing and hiding at the same time, and it’s the way to recover the creative roots of our lives.
We had a chance to preview this theatrical new collection from Gucci at Nai Lert Park, where the pieces are currently being displayed. The venue alone is already a clear indication that this is no ordinary fashion collection. Walk through the breezy, tranquil gardens of the heritage home and you’ll eventually approach a stunningly large glass house, guarded by magnificent black double doors. Once the porters open up the gates, you find yourself entering into an emporium of vivid colours, with a floor completely covered in dozens of eclectic lavish rugs in all shapes and sizes. In the centre, there’s a circle of mannequins dressed in Gucci’s Fall 2019 runway looks. On one side, there’s an extravagant living room area furnished completely with Gucci Decor; on the other side, glass cases of thick gold jewellery. Basically, it’s not what you’d expect to find in a garden glass house.
And that’s exactly the point Gucci is trying to make. Subverting expectations and shifting appearances are the ethos of the Mask-themed Fall collection. The pieces are whimsical, theatrical, and playful – none are what you expected from the surface. There are earrings that mask your ear with a bigger golden ear; there are jackets with the clothes label on the outside of sleeves rather than inside the collar. There are also cotton shirts that turn out to not be cotton at all, but a strange kind of papery material. Each dramatic look is genderless, with ruffled lace jumpsuits being modelled by men and oversized vintage 70s suits modelled by women. Nothing’s predictable in this collection – anything is possible.
This Gucci collection is all about play – in every sense of the word. It’s theatrical, it’s teasing, it’s fun and games, it’s ironic, and it’s irrational. For no apparent reason, words like ‘KITTEN’, ‘ICE LOLLY’, or ‘SUCKER’ are printed across the backs of sneakers and wool sweaters. Snakeskin Gucci sneakers are both worn and carried by the laces as an accessory. There are even Gucci kneepads. Whether you see it as tongue-in-cheek, mysteriously whimsical, or simply pointless, the collection – like an absurdist play – inspires both laughter and imagination.
The Gucci collection is exclusively on display at the Glass House in Nai Lert Park, until the end of June. The exhibition of the Fall 2019 collection also features rare pieces from the Gucci Decor collection that has previously only been accessible in Milan.