Alessandro Michele’s inspiring social media art project

The format of online art fascinates me immensely. Using the platforms of Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or similar outlets to create imaginary stages—where projects can travel around the world in just a few seconds to be seen by a vast audience—offers completely new possibilities for making culture accessible. And all without paying an entrance fee, stepping foot in a museum, or even leaving the comfort of one’s home. Space, time, and place recede into the background.

Video: Reilly

That fashion designers can influence artists—encouraging them to explore innovation in digital creation and combine new techniques and means of expression—is also something that fascinates Alessandro Michele, the creative head of the Florentine heritage fashion label Gucci. In a veritable tour de force, Michele is currently transforming the image of designer fashion with unprecedented intelligence and vision.

Since being elevated from veteran behind-the-scenes designer (with Gucci since 2002) to the role of creative director in January 2015, Michele has jettisoned the Gucci spirit into the future by transcending space and time, culling materials, styles, and genres from different decades to fuse heritage with cutting-edge fashion. Early on, the native Roman expressed his penchant for mixed media by bringing interior design materials, theater costumes, and visual art into the equation for his collections, which continue to be marked by coincidence, loose association, and leaps of imagination.

The Fall 2015 collection, with the floral Gucci Blooms and the graphic Gucci Caleido prints overlaid on the classic GG signature logo, underline this philosophy perfectly. Alessandro Michele compared his playful yet respectful approach to the logo “like drawing on the Mona Lisa.”

Gucci is now sharing this spirit with the wider community by opening up the process in a collaborative online project. The #GucciGram “creative digital project” invites established and emerging online talents, multimedia artists, image makers, and illustrators from around the world to reinterpret the iconic Gucci motifs in whichever way they see fit.

“#GucciGram is a starting point to tell different stories, which are all united by a great freedom. Today creativity is often born and finds its voice in digital media, a vital source of visual culture.” – Alessandro Michele

The resulting artworks, posted on the project’s microsite, on Instagram, and other social media channels, include photographs, short films, and collages.

Video: Ignasi Monreal

The motifs sometimes figure strongly or are cleverly hidden. They have been remixed with renowned paintings, abstract graphics, used in combination with cartoon characters or caricatures, and approached with a sense of humor, satire, or cultural criticism.

Image: The Most Famous Artist

Tapping into the wellspring of online creativity, the project has multiplied its effect to draw non-commissioned contributions as well, by fans who have been inspired to contribute their own interpretations.

Image: Dan Cretu

Following the widespread success of its first #GucciGram campaign—launched with the Fall 2015 collection—in Spring 2016, Gucci announced the second installment of its collaborative digital project: #GucciGram Tian.

This time, Gucci’s new Tian pattern is the star of the project’s second chapter. Its whimsical combination of flowers and birds is inspired by the ancient Chinese “bird and flower” painting style, dating back to the 10th century. In keeping with the pattern’s references, only Asian artists were invited as official contributors. Like their predecessors, this newest round of artists and designers have playfully reinvented Gucci to bring the brand beyond its ordinary context.

Japanese photographer, Yoshito Hasaka, makes a virtual architectural intervention by giving an iconic building in Tokyo a Tian-style façade:

Image: Yoshito Hasaka

The print is manipulated by Taiwanese artist, Page Tsou, for an added layer of political meaning:

Image: Page Tsou

And reconfigured by Chinese artist, Cao Fei, into a broader social-economic context:

Image: Cao Fei

So perfectly in tune with Michele’s forward thinking approach, #GucciGram is a brilliant way for the brand to tap into a wider—virtually boundless—public, and though they may or may not actually buy the fashion, at least they are engaging with it. As Michele once said in an interview, “The most important thing is the way you let the people dream about something.”

Video: Shinyoung Kim


#GucciGram Tian