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Weaving and intertwining references, contacts, inspirations, quotations and many other elements are exactly what Cosmogonies, Gucci's Resort 2023 collection, is all about. Inspired by the relationship and exchange between exiled writers and philosophers Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin, Alessandro Michele's latest collection explores connections, their beauty and how these constitute constellations and, in the end, our whole world.

Whether it be through a literal interpretation of it, seen in the last look worn by Lily McMenamy, a night blue velvet dress with silver constellations embroidered onto it, the name of the collection just perfectly encapsulates what Michele had in mind. Yesterday, Castel del Monte in Apulia (Rome) showed a majestic, regal collection – seen through ruff collars and even through harlequin-inspired looks and prints, which remind us of courtside jesters – which essentially explored the connection between both authors' lives as exiled Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.

So, as you can see, the collection contains multitudes of layers and references, it is more of a non-linear narrative in homage to their legacies but mostly their close relationship and their relationships with other contemporaries, their intellect but also the space and time they shared back then, and how it relates to our own day and age.

Sadly, Benjamin's relationship with Arendt was halted abruptly when he committed suicide in Portbou (Catalonia), as he had planned to cross the border of Francoist Spain (a supposedly neutral country in World War II), where he would then somehow reach Portugal to eventually end up in Portugal. However, he was told by the Franco regime that he would be deported to France where he'd most likely be put in a concentration camp by the Nazis. Not only that, but half of his library had been confiscated by The Gestapo, (what he called “the more important half”) and an extensive collection of manuscripts had been placed in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Everything he had worked for had been stolen. Which is why Arendt asked, how could he live in these conditions?

Curator Viviana Gravano reminds us that such a question makes us think that: “once he had lost the power of assemblage over his network of quotations, to build his own thought, Benjamin realized it was better to disappear forever. In other words, he stated, at the height of Nazism, that to be able to say something, we can’t do without the thought of the others.”

And not only were Benjamin's scriptures important but with him, a whole constellation or network of connections, references and writings disappeared. Arendt and many other universes, or however you may want to call them, no longer revolved around such powerful and influential contemporaries and were in part destroyed. The only silver lining or consolation we have is to think that past constellations can create newer ones, like Michele's trying to do through Cosmogenies.

It's a sartorial interpretation of the many elements that build his own universe, in this case, the part that is inspired by these influential people, which he then transforms into delicate yet grandiose and regal looks in which women stomp in thigh-high boots, powerful 70's inspired silhouettes, dominatrix pastel-coloured latex gloves and as they wear gentle, transparent chiffon dresses and strawberries for purses. It is a touching narrative that travels from and to that era to the one we're in now, passing by and connecting through different dots or stars in the sky, seen in a dispersed and sparse manner but eventually connected through Michele's mind. This is his way of sending his gratitude to astral figures like Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin.

Mercedes Rosés

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