Gucci is launching its own concept store, Vault. This online platform will feature a selection of Gucci's best vintage pieces as well as select collections from young brands. BOF Editor-in-Chief Tim Blanks talked to Alessandro Michele about the new concept store online. You can find the most interesting excerpts of the interview in our article.
Vault translates to "Safe" or "Sanctuary. "It's such a 'pregnant' word," Alessandro Michele says enthusiastically in an interview with Tim Blanks. "It can be the womb of everything you know." "An online vault of beautiful things," he calls this virtual wunderkammer.
The Vault, which opens today, is described by Gucci as "a time machine, an archive, a library, a laboratory and a meeting place." It is also the latest manifestation of Michele's passion for experimentation. He's been doing it throughout the pandemic, exploring alternatives to fashion shows that were cut because of COVID-19.
"I'm obsessed," he says. "I still deal every day with the idea of the present, the past and the perfect future. Go back and take a step forward. I don't know, I always feel something in between."
In a conversation with the BOF editor, Michele admits that he would really like to "have a nice dinner or maybe just have a coffee" with Federico Fellini and Anna Magnani. "And maybe it would have been nice to be at a party in Florence in the time of Lorenzo il Magnifico. Just to see what a beautiful rave was like. I'm pretty sure it was a real movie, and we missed it."
Vault Gucci pop-up space in Piazza Sempione in Milan
Traveling through time with Vault is Gucci's vintage first-century clothing and accessories department. "Mutant relics," Michele says.
"I collect beautiful fashion relics of the past, and I thought, “Why can't we share them on the platform?" This year marks Gucci's 100th anniversary, and it's time to show everyone how wonderful it would be to give a second, third life and more to the old things that are the most beautiful."
Vintage platform items are being hunted everywhere, from auction houses to the closets of Italian grandmothers who never threw anything away. "It's quite interesting because Gucci didn't really work with collections, with the idea that they had to change everything. They were obsessed with beautiful one-piece pieces of clothing, scarves, leather coats, shawl shirts, the idea that a piece of clothing is like a bag that you can keep forever.
"And there was always the idea of travel, all these little things that look like cruising, always really light and fun - something unusual, special and chic, full of design, animals, colors ... Gucci has always sought to tell stories in clothes."
"A few months ago, I was pondering how much different Gucci is from the French leather goods brand. Hermès and other brands feel like they came from a big monarchy, luxurious, perfect, like a palace. You couldn't feel the monarchy in the Italian tradition. The leather goods were very practical, more human, less rigid." "Gucci invented the Jackie bag for a woman who was probably traveling, probably working. I think they were very committed to the humanity of their customers. They thought, 'How can we help them enjoy life in a very simple, beautiful, yet very fun way?
Michele pursues the same lightness in Vault. The pieces are restored by Gucci artisans, but are also "touched" by the designer.
"I've always thought about adding something crazy on top of the old stuff. In the past, people have been obsessed with taking old things and giving them new life with something different. It's like when you go to Piazza Navona in Rome and see an Egyptian obelisk in the middle of a Baroque square and a fountain. I wanted to do the same thing."
The other section of the Vault is called Conversations. It is currently a platform for emerging designers, most of whom Michele highlighted at Gucci Fest online in late 2020. Ahluwalia, Shanel Campbell, Stefan Cooke, Cormio, Charles de Vilmorin, JORDANLUCA, YUEQI QI, Rave Review, Gui Rosa, Bianca Saunders, Collina Strada, Boramy Viguier, Rui Zhou: names with growing credibility reflect one of the most encouraging developments in the fashion industry despite the pandemic: attention paid to the real future. “This is the laboratory component of Vault, confirming the relevance of fashion through the recognition and sale of a new generation of designers," Tim Blanks stresses.
"This platform, this playground, shows how relevant the idea is, especially in fashion, that past, present and the next generation of designers are all in this together."
Michele says he was already thinking about different approaches to fashion, not just shows and stores, before the pandemic. "I felt that we were so focused to work in the same direction, I was trying to prove that fashion had many, many, many ways to express itself." Then came Covid, Gucci Fest and Gus Van Sant (a digital fashion and film festival whose centerpiece was a collaboration between Alessandro Michele and director Gus Van Sant).
"I found that you can really improve fashion, you can really evolve very easily, because fashion is like your friend who can dance, sing, read, laugh, drink. You can do a million things with fashion, because everything is connected to fashion. It's life."