A number of months in the past, again when most stay vogue exhibits obtained canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and digital exhibits took their place, I had a second of hope. I believed that possibly vogue manufacturers would seize the second to do one thing new.
As a substitute of falling into filmic consolation zones with fragrance commercials and music movies, they might attain throughout the film aisle and embrace a unique type of storytelling. The tales could be altogether extra fictional and narrative in nature, and therefore absorbing; they might use a set to inform a narrative however didn’t make it the purpose of the story, the best way adverts do.
Actually, I used to be pondering Quibi, however with nice garments and no subscription: quick paced, entertaining, with insane manufacturing values.
With a handful of attention-grabbing exceptions, it principally didn’t occur. However then Gucci introduced it was eschewing the common schedule and changing it with Guccifest, a weeklong mini-film competition that includes 15 brief movies from rising designers around the globe, produced and paid for by Gucci.
And — even higher — that it could embrace a premiere of a seven-part mini-series directed by Gus Van Sant and the Gucci inventive director Alessandro Michele, starring Mr. Michele’s new assortment but additionally the Italian actress Silvia Calderoni, along with Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Jeremy O. Harris. I thought: Finally! The breakthrough is here!
Be careful what you wish for.
“Ouverture of Something That Never Ended,” a.k.a. the Gucci mini-series, is a well-intentioned, beautifully shot, crazily costumed, occasionally thought-provoking, sophomorically philosophic, ultimately boring slog.
Mr. Van Sant has an incredible filmography, but of all his movies, “Ouverture” has most in common with what The Ringer as soon as referred to as Mr. Van Sants’ “Sea of Timber” — that’s, “a Hallmark card that thinks it’s a haiku.”
Basically the story of a day within the lifetime of Ms. Calderoni, a magnetic performer who erases the entire idea of gender, the movie follows her from the time she wakes in a stunning outdated condo with a random assortment of roommates by means of her journeys in Rome: to a restaurant stuffed with completely happy grooving individuals (together with an inexplicably bare pair), a put up workplace, a dance rehearsal of the Sasha Waltz troupe, some neighbor-peeping, classic purchasing (truly Gucci purchasing, which frequently appears to be like one and the identical) and a night go to to a pal. As such, it’s each pedantic and surreal. Additionally pedantically surreal.
Silvia’s world is populated by Mr. Michele’s buddies — in advertising and marketing parlance sometimes called “buddies of the home” — who are available all totally different ages, shades, shapes, gender identities and ranges of world fame. All of them have been dressed willy-nilly by Mr. Michele within the new assortment: 97 appears to be like of basic Gucci muchness, accessorized to the hilt. Mr. Michele has by no means purchased into that complete “magnificence is refusal” factor.
There are sequins and plaid bouclé jackets and pale denims and emblem all the things; bobble hats and beanie hats and luggage and belts and skateboards. Pretty floral tea attire, pearl-covered pastels and sheer lace; V-neck sweaters, jorts and glossy sweatsuits. Large-lapel three-piece fits. A bouquet of knee socks bunched on the ankle.
Whiffs of Studio 54 and the bourgeoisie and the cartoon jock all mix-mashed collectively within the kooky, inclusive extravaganza that’s Mr. Michele’s signature. There are additionally new Gucci labels, together with one referred to as Eschatology, which refers to “a doctrine that explores the last word future of people and the universe,” in keeping with the model. That’s lots to demand of some checkerboard flares.
And there’s a little dialogue, although it’s extra like exposition. The Spanish thinker Paul B. Preciado, talking on a TV program, abruptly seems of the field to Silvia (doing her morning yoga in a sheer velvet lace jumpsuit and floral pasty bra) to debate a world past gender norms.
Achille Bonita Oliva, an artwork critic, will get on the telephone whereas ready to mail a letter and calls Mr. Types, who’s hanging out in a backyard (in jorts and a pink sports activities jersey), to talk concerning the compulsion to make artwork. Florence Welch (in fan-pleated hippie deluxe costume) creeps across the classic retailer secreting notes in purses and pockets: “With the rain come the secrets and techniques,” “Tomorrow may very well be totally different.” Lu Han (in mint inexperienced glasses and a shell pink shirt) does some ironing after which quotes to Silvia through intercom: “Your physique is sort of a pearl.”
In a information convention earlier than the movies had been launched, Mr. Michele stated he wished “to set garments free,” that he didn’t need them “to be imprisoned in retailers anymore.” The mini-series does that. His assortment lives and breathes on the characters, typically suffocatingly so. There could also be some who wish to rush out to purchase it due to that. And framing it as a collection helps obscure the truth that amid all of the attire and skirts and shorts there aren’t actually any new concepts — the collection itself is the thought. Which can also be the issue.
As a result of what there isn’t is any rigidity or sharp edges, the stuff that retains you watching till the top. Aside from the superstar cameos: Mr. Van Sant in a plaid go well with and Elton John-worthy specs included. At a time when the stakes for everybody are very excessive — even merely strolling exterior — the stakes for the characters appear confusingly low. Nonetheless, credit score to Gucci for at the very least taking a threat in a time when different manufacturers are hunkering down.
In addition to, whereas Gucci might have failed at making a cinematic vogue breakthrough, it succeeded at additional empire constructing. By anointing, funding and bringing to public consideration all kinds of younger designers below the Guccifest umbrella (Mr. Michele referred to as it “a feast of fireflies”), the model positioned itself as a beneficent kingmaker and cemented its standing as inventive tastemaker.
As for these different movies, most of them below 5 minutes (versus the Gucci episodes, 10 to 20 minutes every), a quantity are price watching. The designer Bianca Saunders teamed up with the filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr. to create a captivating brief primarily based on the 1978 Hans Eijkelboom work “The Perfect Man” (which additionally has overtones of “The Bachelor”).
Mowalola Ogunlesi, the Nigerian-British designer who can also be the inventive director of Kanye West’s Hole assortment, dreamed up an avatar-like fight-match world with the animation artist David Killingworth. Priya Ahluwalia, a British designer, and the filmmaker Samona Olanipekun paid homage to neighborhood leaders and matriarchs by means of a celebration of Afro-Caribbean rituals.
And Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada and the artist Charlie Engman remodeled her final assortment right into a online game during which well-dressed avatars (together with one in every of Mr. Engman’s mom) get to avoid wasting the planet from local weather change. It features a collapsing baguette bridge and a large rolling avocado.
An enormous rolling avocado! I used to be on the sting of my seat.