13 January 2020

Horsing Around

Since the beginning of Alessandro Michele’s tenure at Gucci, the house’s campaigns have transported viewers from outer space to a 1940s Hollywood soundstageDisneyland to the 7th century BC Greek city of Selinunte, all the while featuring an eclectic line-up of starlets, Harry StylesTippi HedrenCourtney LoveGucci Mane and Iggy Pop among them. Equally eclectic have been the photographers, from longtime Michele collaborator Glen Luchford to seminal street photographer Bruce Gilden, and filmmakers Harmony Korine and Yorgos Lanthimos.

The latter – who released a book with the house last year – returns for Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2020 campaign, released today. The director and photographer, best-known for Academy Award-nominated films The Lobster and The Favourite, captures the S/S20 collection on the streets of Los Angeles on models who share the frame with a herd of equine co-stars, who wander along the city’s boulevards, down the aisles of a plane, swim in hotel pools or hang out at the beach. It is suitably surreal fare from Lanthimos, whose films are often deliriously unhinged and memorably feature various animals (in The Lobster, unsuccessful singles are transformed into animals at a particularly existential matchmaking camp). 

Horses feature prominently in Gucci’s history, though: in fact, the house begun as a saddlery selling leather goods to horseriders in the early 1920s and, though expanding to a successful line of luggage, accessories and eventually fashion, the equestrian influence would remain key to the brand. Most notably, the ‘horsebit’ attachment on the house’s signature loafers – revived with aplomb in recent years by Michele – and used as a motif across the collections of the various designers who have helmed the house, including Tom Ford. 

The horsebit features across Michele’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection, a suprisingly streamlined offering from the maximalist designer, which explored ideas of sex and liberation. At the show in Milan last year, the designer hinted that the collection marked a new era in his already stratospherically successful tenure: “The collection is a little bit less than more,” he said. “There were fewer things, so to speak. But can you say that a symphony is better than a piano solo?”