Entertainment

Gucci and Balenciaga unveil biggest fashion mashup of 2021

To celebrate its 100th birthday, Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele threw a bedazzled party complete with a secret club, bright lights and flashing cameras, and the reveal of a highly anticipated noncollaboration with Paris-based luxury label Balenciaga.

And yes, you read that last part right: After rumors of an actual collaboration between the two Kering-owned brands swirled throughout the fashion industry earlier this week, a statement issued by Gucci after unveiling a 16-minute video celebrating its centennial collection (dubbed “Aria”) clarified: “Please note, this is not considered a collaboration or a capsule, and should not be referred to as such.”

But at a juncture when everyone and anyone in the industry has dabbled in monster-hit collaborations (Supreme x Louis Vuitton, Adidas for Prada, the list goes on), what, exactly, does a noncollaboration between two fashion powerhouses sharing a runway look like?

If your mind works anything like Michele’s, envision a “hacking lab” (a term Michele also referenced via press release) in which signature Balenciaga codes reinforced or established under Creative Director Demna Gvasalia are boldly peppered throughout the collection’s just-under-100 looks: majorly exaggerated shoulders, immaculately tailored skirts, outerwear padded at the hips, wasp-waist detail and an impossible to miss whiff of ’80s influence.

Combined with Michele’s fantastical flourishes — feathers! sequins! rainbows! — as well as Michele’s references to Gucci signatures and eras past (horse bit accents, BDSM-inspired black leather whips that double as top handles on purses and a red velvet pantsuit recalling Tom Ford’s reign at the brand), the looks, collectively, offered glimmering hope of the return of festivities — as well as ideas of what to wear to them — in our not-too-distant future as they walked their way through the imaginary Savoy Club. (This was Michele’s nod to brand founder Guccio Gucci, who worked as an elevator operator at the Savoy Hotel in London.)

Die-hards will go straight for looks stamped with both of the iconic brands’ logos (cue the silver embellished skirt suit, which doubles up on logomania with sparkling aplomb) and a chain-link “Balenciaga” necklace bearing Gucci’s signature double-G logo where the single “G” would typically be.

And those emoji heart crystal embellished minaudières? Be still.