Gucci Cosmos at 180 Strand REVIEW
Guccio Gucci started out as a bellboy at the Savoy. Who knew? Not me. This fun, immersive show at 180 Strand (just along from Somerset House) begins with a recreation of the Savoy lobby. Walk into the red velvet-lined lift (the first motorised lift in the world) and, as you 'ascend' the seven floors, you are invited to imagine the young Florentine standing with you, looking, listening, taking it all in. Come out into a world of dazzling white, go through a revolving door and you are in a stylised baggage reclaim in an uber-chic airport, with an assortment of Gucci luggage slowly circling the carousel. It is genius.
The show, put together with the brilliant Es Devlin and travelling round the world, is a visual treat. Divided into sections (the first two 'luggage' focused ones are Portals) to make up the Gucci Cosmos, fashionistas will be swooning. After the airport, head backstage to walk through a chronology of the development of the house of Gucci, from the introduction of hemp to make sturdy luggage in 1935, the first horse bit on a shoe in 1953, the Jackie bag in 1961, the flora scarf for Princess Grace of Monaco in 1966, the arrival of Tom Ford in 1994. From here, into two immersive installations, Zoetrope, all swirling horses and pounding hooves and then, my favourite, Eden, an extraordinarily beautiful, magical natural world with giant insects and flowers within which the Gucci Flora range sits. It is stunning.
From here, feeling wowed, you go down a dark ramp into the second part of the exhibition. TWO. Two giant figures lie, clad in Tom Ford's iconic velvet suits. Are they from Gulliver's Travels? Are they twins? Are they saying something about fashion's relationship with the human form. Not sure. Never mind. Onwards. into Archivio, a faithful recreation of the Gucci archives in Florence. Handbag nuts will be in heaven and you can open drawers to look at drawings, scarfs, catalogues and photographs.
The final two rooms are front of house, theatrical again. First, Carousel, a wonderful moving fashion show of Gucci outfits over the decades, several of which are instantly recognisable. The last room is a walk around film installation, explaining the vision of Sabato de Sano, the new Gucci Creative Director. Shot through with red, it is intoxicating.
Impressionable teens will be impressed. It's slick, theatrical, commercial and brilliant. Very Gucci.
Gucci Cosmos 180 Strand, 11 October–31 December. Tickets: £18 adults, £10 ages 13–18, 12 and under free.