If, for some reason, you were to set yourself the challenge of emulating one of cinema’s most inimitable directors, Stanley Kubrick would surely be the toughest pick. Beyond the director’s unrivalled practice of shooting ceaseless takes for every scene, his dedication to set pieces, props and costuming is well known. So much so that complex fan theories surrounding his hidden messages and symbols have been built around his films – shown wonderfully in Rodney Ascher’s 2012 documentary Room 237. This deep well of creative iconography is being embraced wholeheartedly by Alessandro Michele in his latest endeavour, the new Gucci Exquisite campaign, inspired by Kubrick’s career.
In a recent press release, Michele describes the Exquisite campaign as the creative director’s tribute “to cinema and to one of its brightest maestros”. Across the campaign, we’re taken through some of Kubrick’s most recognisable moments: A Clockwork Orange’s Korova Milkbar; the Overlook Hotel’s hallways from The Shining; the grounds of Barry Lyndon. The framing remains consistent with Kubrick’s original vision, though Michele is not afraid to repurpose hallowed references. “Sticking to my creative praxis, I seized those movies, resemanticising them, populating them with my clothes,” Michele says.
In Gucci’s version of 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, “the dreamiest evening dress dangled in soft tulle ruches bursts into the aseptic and dystopian space”. Shoes with a “fetish flavour” can be found in the Clockwork Orange remake. Meanwhile an Adidas gown sheds its “status of sportswear to become a Victorian costume” in Exquisite’s interpretation of Barry Lyndon.
Michele goes on: “This situationist game mixes historical plans, references, experiences. The past explodes into the present. Everything can become anything, or something else. As in that famous scene of Kubrick’s masterpiece, where the bone turns into a spaceship. As in life.”
The creative director explains that Kubrick’s work has since entered into the collective imagination. “Since he was a diviner of vision, his works are as recognisable as the Sistine Chapel, the Virgin of the Rocks or The Simpsons. Manipulating his images, inside a brand new semantic framework, is like hacking La Gioconda.” The director adds: “I’ve always admired Kubrick’s remarkable capacity in tackling very different subjects… Kubrick was, in essence, a real sculptor of genres: the ‘cross-genre’ director, ahead of his time. His ability to build stories that exceed significance, crossing borders and setting labels on fire, has always been deeply inspiring to me.”
Milena Canonero, the award-winning costume designer who worked with Kubrick on multiple films, including A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, has assisted Michele on the project, “going back over some of the scenes that hailed her as an undisputed star in the history of costume design”, Michele explains.
GalleryGucci: Exquisite, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and all related characters and elements © & ™ Turner Entertainment Co. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, BARRY LYNDON, EYES WIDE SHUT, THE SHINING and all related characters and elements © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s22)
Gucci: Exquisite, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and all related characters and elements © & ™ Turner Entertainment Co. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, BARRY LYNDON, EYES WIDE SHUT, THE SHINING and all related characters and elements © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s22)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.