Collaborations are often a shrewd exercise in merging brand signifiers to produce desirable hybrids that tempt consumers. But not all collabs are created equal. In some instances, such experiments have produced new specimens born out of genuine creative affinities.
This appears to be the case with Alessandro Michele’s adventures in the sometimes slippery terrain of label partnerships. Pivoting on the idea of metamorphosis pervading his entire oeuvre, he has mastered a series of spectacular crossovers (he’s reluctant to call them collaborations) with fellow creatives, like the now famous Hacking Project with Demna’s Balenciaga for fall 2021. As the Latin saying goes, repeating does good, and in his Exquisite Gucci fall 2022 fashion show Michele turned the focus on adidas, a megabrand whose imagery is rich in personal and sentimental memories not only for the designer, but also for a young (and not so young) demographic.
An avid collector of adidas Gazelle sneakers, Michele is a longtime fan of the label. Its sporty retro glamour resonates with his sentiment for the past, so the marriage between Gucci and adidas seems to be the result of a natural creative ease. Launched at his Milan show last September, the (surely conscious) coupling will touch down in stores and online on June 7 with the first drop of a full-blown ready-to-wear collection, in which adidas codes have been thoroughly Gucci-fied, while Gucci’s have likewise been crossbred with adidas’s iconic symbols.
Lensed by photographer Carlijn Jacobs and inspired by the patina of archival fashion catalogs, the lookbook images are a clear indicator of the collection’s pervasive spirit of retro chic, tinged with Michele’s flair for whimsy and trippy references. The adidas tracksuit—a sportif version of the traditional masculine suit, if you will—served as the collection’s high-style staple, and was deconstructed and reassembled in a plethora of separates iterations, emblazoned with adidas’s and Gucci’s re-coded emblems.
The play on interlocked logos was spread with gusto across the women’s and men’s collections, which exude a gender-fluid, dressed-up athletic vibe. The adidas three stripes and the Gucci green-red-green web, which look quite similar, appear as simultaneous appliqués on the sides of joggers, zippered sweats, shorts, bell bottoms, and pencil skirts, while the lotus-shaped adidas trefoil, first used in 1972, has been given the Michele treatment, blown-up in colorful wallpaper-like renditions on oversized anoraks and svelte belted jackets.
Michele’s beloved Gazelles were also Gucci-fied, featuring the intertwined GG lettering. Clogs, poolside flatforms, and cone-heeled pumps were marked with the monograms of both labels. On luggage, the Trefoil was joined by the Gucci logo spelled backwards, while the horsebit crossbody and tote were decked out in an allover trefoil print. From umbrellas to headbands to golf bags, no surface has escaped the hybridizing exercise. Looking at the expansive collection, one cannot help thinking that not only will it be catnip for the Gucci/adidas fan base, but also that Michele and the adidas team must have had a blast pirouetting and spinning across both label’s vast logo-ed repertoires.
Creative Director: Alessandro Michele
Art Director: Christopher Simmonds
Photographer: Carlijin Jacobs