Visitors to the first Pitti Uomo of 2019 – the world’s most prestigious bi-annual men’s fashion fair – held in Florence, Italy, every January and June, will have an added attraction to take in. Hometown luxury brand Gucci is organizing a new exhibition at the Period Rooms of its recently set up Gucci Garden, at the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia in the city’s Piazza della Signoria. Gucci had opened the Period Rooms this June with an elegant affair that paid tribute to Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk.
The Gucci Garden, which was conceived by Creative Director Alessandro Michele, took the concept of its existing Gucci Museum and reimagined it as a living, collaborative and creative space in which to express the evolving aesthetic and philosophy of the fashion house. The space is curated as a living laboratory, where visitors can observe the various elements that have combined over time to create the brand as we know it today.
In a Galleria spread over two floors, visitors can view an exhibition of clothing, accessories, video installations, artwork, documents and artifacts, organised by theme. Contemporary items are juxtaposed in a dialogue with vintage pieces; friends of the House, like artists Jayde Fish, Trevor Andrew (AKA GucciGhost) and Coco Capitán have decorated the walls, and their works sit alongside Gucci fabric-patterned wallpaper and a giant 19th century equestrian oil portrait, Fantino con bambina, by Domenico Induno.
The venue includes exhibition spaces curated by critic and curator Maria Luisa Frisa, a restaurant helmed by the famous three-star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura, and a boutique with one-of-a-kind clothing and other items bearing images by an artist working with the House.
In June, the exhibit dedicated to Björk had its piece de resistance in a luminescent dress designed by Michele for the singer, worn in the video for her song, ‘The Gate’. Objects that came together in an installation in the period rooms also included other gowns and masks worn in the video, all placed in a manner that the attention remained on the hero dress – a spectacular piece that had taken 550 hours to make and 320 hours to embroider. There was also a selection of precious books that are connected to the imaginary world, triggered by the film and the creation of the gown.
Downstairs in the boutique, a table of books and magazines curated by Frisa offered a further insight into Björk’s world in print – including the catalogue published for the 2015 exhibition dedicated to her by MoMA. The books, magazines and catalogues on sale helped readers to engage further with the beguiling artiste.
As part of the upcoming exhibition, which opens on January 8, 2018, new wall paintings will be created in the areas that link the various floors in the Gucci Garden. Jayde Fish’s creation story and the imaginative phrases of Coco Capitán will give way to a series of new works created by two artists. These will both engage visitors and create a dialogue with windows that open onto Piazza della Signoria, creating a connection between these transitional spaces in the Gucci Garden and the ever-busy public space outside. At the launch of the Gucci Garden earlier this year, Michele had said that its name had been chosen not simply because the House aesthetic imaginatively incorporates references to the natural world of plants, flowers, and animals, but also because of its metaphorical meaning. “The garden is real, but it belongs above all to the mind, populated with plants and animals: like the snake, which slips in everywhere, and in a sense, symbolises a perpetual beginning and a perpetual return.”
Explaining why it is an important addition to the city’s cultural space, Frisa added, “The past is very much part of the present at Gucci, which is perfectly in keeping with Alessandro’s idea of the brand, and indeed his attitude to Florence, Gucci’s home, which he sees as a city where history is still vibrantly alive.” By donating half of the 8-euro ticket fee to the Galleria to support restoration projects in Florence, the House has indeed found a fitting way to honour the city it calls home.