Gucci Cosmos makes its way to London, inviting visitors to embark on a immersive experience through time, seamlessly blending the House’s rich history and Florentine origins with an homage to its enduring creativity. From its humble beginnings to its global stature today, the exhibition celebrates Gucci’s rich heritage as a fashion powerhouse. Premiering in Shanghai earlier this year, the anticipated exhibition has now found its temporary home at 180 Studios, located at 180 The Strand. A city that played a pivotal role in Gucci’s heritage, it’s only fitting that the luxury house has chosen London as the next stop for this vanguard showcase of their most iconic designs over Gucci’s 102-year history.
A celebration of the Italian house’s deep-rooted connection to the British capital, the story of Gucci is said to have begun in London back in 1897 where a young and ambitious Guccio Gucci (at the time, a luggage porter and lift boy at The Savoy hotel), was exposed to the tastes and lifestyles of the international elite. Carrying their luggage through the famous revolving entrance doors and operating the lift to the luxurious rooms and suites, Guccio absorbed a world of inspiration, expanding his horizons and cultural awareness. Driven by these experiences, he returned to Florence in 1921 and founded his eponymous leather-goods house, setting the stage for what we now now to be one of the leading multi-brand luxury companies in the world.
Curated by the esteemed Italian fashion theorist and critic, Maria Luisa Frisa, and designed by the renowned British contemporary artist, Es Devlin, the exhibition offers a playful and enchanting voyage through the brand’s past, present, and future. Taking visitors through a series of captivating worlds that showcase treasures from the Gucci archive –many of which have never been seen before. Each world represents a different facet of the house, from its unwavering principles since its establishment in 1921, and the pioneering spirit of Guccio Gucci’s sons, Aldo and Rodolfo, to the boundless imagination of more recent creative directors, including Tom Ford, Frida Giannini, Alessandro Michele, and now Sabato De Sarno. Mirroring the evolution of our own consciousness, Gucci’s history unfolds like a garment that can be changed and retailored, constantly renewing itself.
Es Devlin, the creative force behind the exhibition’s design, draws inspiration from London’s pivotal role in Guccio’s origin story––it was in this city that a young Guccio Gucci rode up and down the red lacquered Ascending Room at The Savoy, where his interactions with guests and their exquisite luggage shaped his destiny. Through a careful combination of audio, visual, and kinetic elements, she transports visitors back in time. The connection to Florence, Gucci's birthplace, is also beautifully represented. Before London, there was the city of Florence, where Guccio founded his artisanal luggage atelier. To pay homage to this significant chapter, an installation named Duomo has been attached to the exterior facade of 180 The Strand. The installation features two mirror-image bas-relief reproductions of Filippo Brunelleschi's revolutionary 15th-century dome that crowns Florence's cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, against a backdrop of vibrant red and green, bringing a touch of Florence's architectural glory to the bustling streets of London.
One of our highlights is the Archivio world. Reminiscent of the Gucci archive in Florence, this maze-like space showcases the house's most iconic bags. As visitors wander through walls lined with cabinets and drawers, they encounter historic pieces that have become timeless classics. The Bamboo 1947, the Jackie 1961, the Horsebit 1955, the Gucci Diana, and the Dionysus bags are among the treasures on display. Rare and colourful interpretations of these iconic designs, ranging from the 1960s to the present day, offer a glimpse into Gucci’s evolution and style. Adjacent to the Archivio we find the enchanting Cabinet of Wonders. A rotating cabinet of curiosities unveiling a stunning collection of garments, accessories, and curiosities, showcasing the breadth of Gucci's design range. Tom Ford's 2001 leather bustier, Frida Giannini's golden evening gown from 2006, and Alessandro Michele's punk-inspired leather bag from 2019 are just a few of the captivating pieces that you can find in this monolithic cube defying convention.
As visitors delve deeper into the cosmos, they encounter the captivating Carousel world. Here, twenty-five mannequins adorned in Gucci clothing from the 1970s to the present day glide by, accompanied by the atmospheric sounds of sewing machines and atelier noises. The looks, arranged by colour and inspiration rather than chronology, create a dynamic visual feast. A 1970s silk shirt and skirt converse with a 2016 wool cape by Alessandro Michele, while a silk dress with feathers dances alongside a chain-embroidered flapper dress from 2012 by Frida Giannini.
Within the exquisite Gucci Ancora world, visitors are transported to a room inspired by Sabato De Sarno's debut collection. Bathed entirely in the signature Rosso Ancora shade of red, the room invokes a sense of poetic introspection. Words, memories, and fragments in both Italian and English appear and disappear on semi-translucent walls, accompanied by a video and sound installation. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the space, arranging semi-transparent cards featuring words to create their own compositions. Gucci Ancora merges installation art with storytelling, inviting guests to explore the profound connection between fashion and personal narratives.
Gucci Cosmos is a manifestation of the Gucci’s soul, paying homage to its enduring legacy while embracing a future shaped by creative visionaries. From the impeccable craftsmanship of Guccio Gucci in 1921 to the innovative designs of Sabato De Sarno today, the exhibition is a testament to the brand’s pursuit of genuine luxury, iconic aesthetics, and it’s ongoing creative dialogue with its own heritage and modernity. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the magic of this exhibition, an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your fashion sensibilities.