Gucci’s recent ad campaigns, specifically in print, have been glittering fantasies, firmly rooted in depicting models as characters, and spaces as structured dreamland sets. The three latest campaigns, for Tailoring (feat. Dapper Dan), Cruise 2018 (“Roman Rhapsody”), and Fall/Winter 2017 (“Gucci and Beyond”) have taken the narrative focus to a new level, outshining the advertising of peer brands, and creating a jarring separation between themselves and the campaigns of years past.

Gucci AW17 campaign shot by Glen Luchford.

Gucci AW17 campaign shot by Glen Luchford.

Gucci AW14 campaign shot by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott 

Gucci AW14 campaign shot by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott 

Before Alessandro Michele’s directorial appointment to the house in January 2015, the Spring 2013 and Fall/Winter 2014 Gucci campaigns focused on clean lines, top models, and opaque lighting blurring the uniqueness of their facial features. Catwalk queens Kate, Anja, and Natasha were posed lounging in singularly coloured ensembles or facing the audience with gripping accessories, in garments free of extraneous detail, filling the entire frame. This rather classic aesthetic is a far cry from today’s realistic fantasy pieces, from Dapper Dan in men’s Tailoring outshining Harlem street kids on Do the Right Thing stoops, and the heart-stopping super real portraiture of “Roman Rhapsody,” to tons of character movement juxtaposed by still accessories on Star Trek themed sets in “Gucci and Beyond.” In all, the clothes look like a second skin, as if the real world (outside of Michele’s head) simply exists in Gucci ready-to-wear.

A look from Prada SS14 menswear collection.

A look from Prada SS14 menswear collection.

Gucci 'Roman Rhapsody' Cruise 18 campaign, shot by Mick Rock

Gucci 'Roman Rhapsody' Cruise 18 campaign, shot by Mick Rock

Contemporary campaigns by Gucci peers Prada and Louis Vuitton follow similar creative veins but in a more muted fashion. Over the years, Prada has connected specifically to “Roman Rhapsody,” with classic prints featuring celebrities in Fall/Winter 2013 Man and Spring/Summer 2014 Man. The differences to Gucci lie in the lighting, featuring a key light in white, full on celebrity faces, with the subjects themselves in empty rooms with blank walls. Louis Vuitton Series 6 by Bruce Weber for Spring/Summer 2017 picks up on some of the character movement in “Gucci and Beyond,” but places more emphasis on accessories singularly centred in unique spaces and models on location without a full narrative story.

Louis Vuitton Series 6 SS17 campaign shot by Bruce Weber.

Louis Vuitton Series 6 SS17 campaign shot by Bruce Weber.

Gucci AW17 campaign shot by Glen Luchford

Gucci AW17 campaign shot by Glen Luchford

Gucci reforms today’s trends in luxury fashion ad campaigns by creating this narrative story in a variety of settings, and across men’s and women’s lines. Visually, their use of richer colours than their peers heightens the realism of the pictures, and creates depth in both character and product detail.

Dapper Dan in Gucci's Mens Tailoring campaign shot by Glen Luchford

Dapper Dan in Gucci's Mens Tailoring campaign shot by Glen Luchford

Structurally, Gucci’s figures and characters are positioned with more movement and wit than their peers (and their past campaigns), as if random actions and reactions to story-world stimuli were deliberately separated into frames and the best ones were chosen for print. In terms of product focus, both accessory and garment pieces are given life rather than stasis. The clothes add to the character rather than being worn, by highlighting unique and poignant character traits in the ways in which the models seem unaware of what they are costumed in. Within this creative bubble born of imagination and luxe fabrics, Michele gives consumers a sense of how the world should wear itself, and how that should be documented.

Words: Annunziata Santelli

Copy edited by Elena Stanciu