Guccifest Made No Sense (And Why I’m Okay With That).
Image Credit: Gus Van Sant for Gucci
Yesterday was the final day of Guccifest, a seven-day online film festival featuring a seven-part film collaboration between Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele and award-winning director Gus Van Sant. Each day, viewers were treated to a short film which featured as part of the campaign for their latest collection. Entitled ‘Ouverture of Something That Never Ended’, it clocks in at around an hour and a half overall. So my editor challenged me to watch all of the episodes, Netflix-marathon-style, and give my thoughts on each episode.
In this episode we are introduced to our protagonist; Silvia, played by Silvia Calderoni. As she peruses around her gorgeous Italian flat in a lace jumpsuit, our ears are unfortunately greeted with the sound of a janky bass guitar, as a bunch of well dressed handsome young guys play a melody in the background. Silvia, in a daze, as she brushes her teeth, checks her mail, does some stretches, is reminiscent of the characters in Requiem for a Dream, particularly when she appears to gum a white powder halfway through. The only thing of note in this episode is when she begins talking directly to the television, as Paul B. Preciado, a famous trans-writer discusses the ideas of gender identity and fluidity. This conversation, which lasts less than 5 minutes, is about as dramatic or insightful as this series will get, so really make the most of it. The episode ends with a weird hypnotic repetitive scene where Silvia kisses a boy dressed like Urkel from Family Matters on a bike.
Silvia’s back and this time she’s outside! We begin with Silvia, in a much more toned outfit consisting of a beige, calf-length patterned skirt with a blue and orange striped top. As she strolls around Rome, we are given much more of an advert for a luxury brand, rather than whatever the first episode was. Close-ups of her Gucci knee-high socks and shoes remind us that this was made to sell clothes. We then cut to Silvia in a café, chatting to singer-songwriter Arlo Parks. Parks is dressed in an embroidered poncho and sporting some very cool and colourful Gucci sneakers. As they chat, you realised that the voices have been dubbed over which is very odd. It’s like those super mismatched karate films imported from Hong Kong in the 1980s. Also, this café makes no sense. It’s much more Saturday Night Fever rather than Starbucks; some people are dancing, some people are naked?! How is a fashion company supposed to sell naked? After a quick drive in a little Italian red car, Silvia goes to the bathroom and somehow ends up in a theatre. Right. My confusion is only matched by my adoration for Silvia’s striped top. Maybe these episodes are good at marketing.
Here we go, the moment I was waiting for. What’s Harry Styles; globally adored musician and surprisingly good actor going to do in this episode? It turns out, very little. Silvia is back, of course, and she’s at the post office! Most of the film is here queuing to buy stamps, as other beautiful people also queue up to buy stamps, moving along slowly, one after the other. Hmmm, almost like a runway, funny that. Then, an old man picks up the phone and says the words me and all the other teenage girls watching want to hear, ‘Ciao Harry’. Cut to Harry Styles in a garden, wearing a pink American football top and denim shorts. He then says something about ‘art and passion’ but to be honest I was staring at the fit and the audacity that he has to pull off denim shorts. And in a flash, he’s gone, a wasted cameo if I’ve ever seen one. Silvia then buys some stamps and leaves. Really, there’s only so much nuance one can pick up in these films.
The episode begins in a changing room, with a plethora of beautiful well-dressed people stretching and dancing, presumably rehearsing for a show. Silvia then shows up in a pair of oversized 70’s glasses and a glittery ensemble that would make arts and crafts kindergarteners red-faced. Silvia meets up with Jeremy O. Harris, who is sporting a look I could actually wear; a red and white checkered cardigan and oversized flared jeans. After a quick stretch and dance between the two, what follows is about ten minutes of Silvia dancing alongside all the previously seen beautiful well-dressed people. Overall, this episode was okay, made watchable only by my love for Jeremy O. Harris.
I’ll warn you now, Billie Eilish is barely in this one. This episode starts with a ‘Rear Window’ vibe, as Silvia spies on her neighbours from her lovely Italian balcony. She watches as her neighbours perform various normal activities such as licking a window, drying wigs and working with eyelashes. Luckily, the clip then cuts to Billie Eilish performing a music video, with VHS style editing throughout. Wearing a frankly stunning newsboy cap and an oversized collegiate sweater, Eilish sings as she dances with weird looking yellow robot dogs. Her cameo is of course, too short, as we are then transported back to Rome, with Silvia defending her bandmates from a grumpy old neighbour as they play a loud and frankly dreadful rendition of Beethoven’s Sonata No.14.
This episode is probably the best advert for Gucci’s latest campaign that you’ll see. It begins with Silvia exploring Rome in an outfit remarkably similar to Harry Styles’ in episode 3. She stops and marvels at a mannequin and proceeds to enter a vintage shop; with a conveniently located neon, Gucci sign in the background. But who else should appear but Florence ‘And The Machine’ Welch. Wearing a ridiculous but oddly flattering oversized hat, Welch spends the episode dropping random bits of poetry into unsuspecting garments. Welch’s outfit is fantastic though, it must be said. Alongside her floppy hat, Welch sports an ankle-length frilly dress, a red leather purse and a pair of classic Gucci horse-bit loafers.
The final episode, what a journey it has been. I feel like I’ve really bonded with Silvia over the course of these seven episodes. For example, I know that she likes going to the post office or spying on her neighbours. It begins with Silvia in a bold beige three-piece suit, roaming the streets of a moonlit Rome. She then rings the doorbell of a flat repeatedly, revealed to be Chinese actor/musician Lu Han’s flat. Lu Han probably has the best look of the entire series, sporting jet-red dyed hair, a workwear style navy blouson, some oversized pastel blue shorts and a pair of knee-high yellow socks. As they trade romantic poetry through the intercom, dozens of Gucci enrobed models exit the building one at a time. Hmm, almost like a runway! Oh, we’re also treated to a brief cameo of Gus Van Sant walking his dog, in an Elton John-style colourful checkered suit. Silvia then leaves, hops onto a stranger’s moped and we are greeted with multiple panoramic shots of Rome at night. The series ends with her, once again in the theatre, pondering her life and her hold on reality, I think.
So overall, what did I learn? Well for one, I learnt I wasn’t the only one who watched all the episodes, with all seven of them totalling at around 5 million views at the time of writing. I also learnt that instead of watching them all at once, I should have watched them as Michele and Van Sant intended, one per day. It definitely would have added to the intensity that they tried to get across.
Mostly, I learnt that there isn’t much of a difference between a physical runway show or an art-house style movie. The message was very well conveyed, Gucci makes beautiful clothes and I want to buy them. On top of that, the fact that billion-dollar brand Gucci used the first episode of GucciFest to discuss the intricacies of gender identity has to be applauded. With so many brands putting their foot in it, Gucci has remained relevant and at the top simply by making beautiful clothes, getting good-looking people to wear them, and by not saying or doing anything stupid to alienate potential customers.
Would I recommend watching ‘Ouverture Of Something That Never Ended’? Of course. Would I recommend watching them all at once, as though it were its own film? Not at all, I almost went insane doing so. As a film, crazy, as a marketing campaign though, it worked, I now want to buy the entire collection.
All of the episodes can be found here.
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