Created by Aldo Gucci in 1953, the Gucci Horsebit Loafer is 70 years old, but it still seems to be in pretty good shape. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, the house threw a festive, cool bash on the first day of Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week.
Staged at art venue Spazio Maiocchi, the homage was engineered as a multidisciplinary immersive experience, with a corollary of installations, live performances, exhibitions and videos curated by Alessio Ascari, Spazio Maiocchi’s creative director. The space was transformed into a sort of countercultural meta country club called the Gucci Horsebeat Society, where artworks by 10 up-and-coming artists, mostly working with digital or AI-generated imagery, reinterpreted the iconography of the Horsebit, the metal clamp of a horse’s bridle that is one of Gucci’s most famous signifiers. Here, it came morphed and twisted into an AI-generated pattern on the thick wall-to-wall moquette carpeting the rooms; warped into distorted kinetics woven into the texture of a denim ensemble; or intruding as an almost-undetectable graphic in the classic checks of a Prince of Wales wool tailored suit.
Arranged as an art installation alongside the pieces commissioned for the exhibition, looks from Gucci’s spring collection were displayed on mannequins in a room entirely wallpapered by Australian image-maker Ed Davis, whose collage motifs were also reprised on an oversized bowling-set/skater silk ensemble. Throughout the lineup, references to the archives were streamlined and rendered into augmented silhouettes; both tailoring and sport-inflected pieces had amplified proportions while retaining classic construction.
A balancing act between past and future was apparent. On one hand, sartorial three-piece suits were simplified to sharp-cut, trim versions, only slightly refreshed by the elongated shapes of blazers, the shortening of sleeves and cuffs, and the revival of ’70s bootcut trousers. On the other, an undercurrent of inventive techno-quirk was perceptible in the optically treated surfaces of workwear/sporty hybrids, where the GG logo was digitally distorted into a glazed effect, laser-printed on denim-like leather, or rendered in a spongy three-dimensional weave. Equally offbeat was a shiny, liquid oversized hoodie/shorts ensemble, whose fabric woven with silver metallic threads made it shape-shifting and malleable. A washed denim jacket tucked into wide-leg pants was thermo-incrusted with micro mirror tiles, refracting light like a wearable disco ball.
The artworks displayed across the site celebrated the Horsebit’s metamorphosis. Among the most visually compelling was Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury’s 1998 furry bedroom, surmounted by a hanging square-heeled Horsebit loafer in red patent leather from Tom Ford’s Gucci fall 1995 show. An imposing surrealist bean-shaped wooden desk by American sculptor Pitter Patter was held up by replicas of stylish knee-length legs clad in Gucci bootcut trousers and Horsebit loafers in various styles. Entertaining and humorously artistic, the event definitely whetted the appetite for the arrival of new creative director Sabato De Sarno in September.
This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.
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