SPONSORED BY GUCCI
As a gifted creative who clearly subscribes to the philosophy that more is infinitely more, it would be easy to assume Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele needn’t look outside his own imagination for ideas on embellishment.
After all, this is the man who has over recent seasons given us clashing prints-on-prints, rainbow lurex, designer geek chic 2.0, satin turbans, platform geisha sandals teamed with sports socks and even a studded denim safari suit emblazoned with the moniker of Elton John (aka the undeniable King of Fabulously Ostentatious Fashion).
But when Milan-based Michele stumbled across the Instagram account of British artist Helen Downie, posting under her nom de plume Unskilled Worker, it was a case of creative love at first scroll. The feted designer soon invited Downie to join a group of artists to participate in Gucci’s No Longer/Not Yet art exhibition in Shanghai’s Minsheng Art Museum. Her work, which was self-taught in her late forties, quickly endeared itself to exhibition-goers too.
Fast forward to 2017 and Downie has collaborated with the Italian house again, this time on arguably the boldest modern art-meets-fashion partnership the industry’s seen in years.
The 40-piece Gucci x Unskilled Worker capsule collection of ready-to-wear, shoes, bags, silks and accessories all printed with Downie’s highly-stylised illustrations are drenched in the same kaleidoscope of colours we’re now used to seeing in Michele’s runway shows.
GUCCI, UNSKILLED WORKER SILK DRESS, $3650. SHOP NOW
There’s a new GG Marmont shoulder bag, slip-on Princetown mules, tote bags with bamboo handles, long printed silk dresses, a bomber jacket and plenty of patched and painted denim and sweat action in the range too.
All pieces are made to the luxury quality you’d expect from a storied design house, with a little cheeky, frenetic and eclectic spirit thrown in for good measure. They even arrive encased in bespoke packaging decorated with bold Unskilled Worker imagery.
GUCCI, UNSKILLED WORKER NYMPHEA BAG, $3990. SHOP NOW
GUCCI, UNSKILLED WORKER SILK SHIRT, $1400. SHOP NOW
“I’ve always been fascinated by the way people invent themselves through their appearance, so when I began painting it was only natural that it would become part of my work,” says Downie, who is now 52. “The Gucci paintings are an emotional response to Alessandro’s work.
“It’s been like a creative conversation. I think we both like hidden elements in our work. It’s been so exciting to discover his world and then mix it in with mine. Little secrets are threaded through the work, things held dear since childhood. It’s intensely personal.”
GUCCI, UNSKILLED WORKER T-SHIRTS, $700. SHOP NOW
Credit: All supplied
As another first for Gucci, the collection will be sold exclusively and simultaneously online in any country that has a Gucci.com e-commerce store – namely America, Canada, Europe, China, Japan, South Korea and, thankfully, Australia – with October 11 the much-anticipated drop date.
Chances are savvy street art hounds in those regions will have already spotted the outdoor promotional activities highlighting the collection too, including wall installations, fly posters and outdoor gallery showings.
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As further proof that some of the best things in life are (to some degree) still free, Downie has painted an exclusive piece of work which anyone can download at zero cost to you from Gucci.com or UnskilledWorker.co.uk. So generous, so chic.