Gucci Garden is a three-storeyed venue that combines a museum-like galleria with an exclusive retail space to create a brand experience that is truly unique. Situated in the elegant 14th century Palazzo della Mercanzia in Florence, it was conceived by Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele in collaboration with curator-cum-critic Maria Luisa Frisa.
The purpose of Gucci Gardens is to be a living, collaborative and creative space in which “the evolving aesthetic and philosophy of the house can be expressed.” – Gucci
The inaugural exhibit at its Gallery showcases Gucci’s collaboration with Björk, while the boutique on the ground floor features exclusive creation from Gucci’s collaboration with London-based artist Isabella Cotier. The “Björk” exhibit, spread across two rooms, was put together to highlight the collaboration between Björk and Alessandro Michele for the former’s music video “The Gate” which debuted in 2017. The exhibit is designed to appear almost shapeless so that the focus of attention is on the dress that ‘stars’ in the film. The dress is “a luminescent envelope that made the narrative behind the words of the song visible and performative.” It was designed by Alessandro Michele to give “form in a figurative sense to the overcoming of Björk’s suffering and her transformation in the video into a prodigious creature that irradiates love.”
The dress itself is a feat of “ectoplasmic architecture” that took “550 hours to make and 320 hours to embroider. It combines five metres of finely pleated iridescent PVC and 20 metres of pleated lurex organza, crêpe de chine and silk jersey.” – Gucci
The other objects on display, all of which appear in “The Gate” video, contribute to the video’s visual beauty and layered meaning. As with the ‘star’ dress, these objects are also the material products of the imaginations of Björk and Michele. They consist of a second gown, and an array of accessories. Also exhibited are two elaborate face masks that were conceived by Björk and embroiderer James Merry. On the wall is an audio-visual display presenting Björk’s music video. Also, on display are a selection of books that were inspirations for the film and the gown.
The other permanent exhibitions of the Gallery include a room displaying vintage and contemporary renderings of the Gucci logo; a room exploring Gucci’s recurring motifs such as the horsebit and the red-green-red stripe; a 30-seat Cinema da Camera on the first floor which screens different episodes of “Zeus Machine,” a film cycle dedicated to Hercules; and a space to display clothes, accessories, and objects that explore “Alessandro Michele’s penchant for the iconography of animals and gardens.”
Gucci Garden Galleria, which occupies the second and third floors, charges an entry fee of eight euros; 50% of each ticket sale will be donated to support restoration projects in Florence, the city where the Gucci brand was born in 1921. However, entry is free for students, people over 65, children under 12 and disabled persons.
There is no entry fee for the ground floor “bazaar-like” retail space. It is organised across two large rooms that house products that are exclusively designed for the Gardens and which are not available in any other Gucci store.
The most exclusive among these is the new collection of clothing and bags featuring the works of London-based artist Isabella Cotier. Her “distinctive, playful, colourful, faux-naïve illustrations,” based on her “observational drawings of the eccentric local characters of Florence that she made while sitting in the cafés, markets and streets of the city,” have been applied to a range of sweatshirts, hoodies, T-shirts and tote bags. The collaboration with Cotier is just the latest in a series of partnerships planed by Gucci Garden.
The other exclusive Gucci merchandise available at the store include several one-of-a-kind ready-to-wear creations such as a golden military-style frock coat, complete with frogging, a black and pink short sheepskin coat featuring a green kingsnake on its lining, and a decorative, red peak-lapel garden-print jacket with pink satin trim. There are shoes and bags in unique patterns, prints and colours, such as the Princetown loafer and the Sylvie handbag.
All pieces displayed are branded with a distinctive Gucci Garden label. The House’s “eye” motif, for example, now decorates paperweights, boxes, stationary, T-shirts and sweatshirts.
“The garden is real, but it belongs above all to the mind, populated with plants and animals: like the snake, which slips in everywhere, and in a sense, symbolises a perpetual beginning and a perpetual return” – Alessandro Michele
The Gucci Garden is a grand example of experiential retail with the objective of tempting shoppers back into brick-and-mortar stores. It is an invitation to shoppers and fans of the brand to immerse themselves in the lore of Gucci.