On Tuesday, January 9, Gucci hosted an opening event for Gucci Garden in Florence. The brand new space is designed by the fashion house’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele, present at the evening celebration alongside Trevor Andrew (AKA GucciGhost), Massimo Bottura, Maria Luisa Frisa, Coco Capitán, Amanda Charchian, Helen Downie (AKA Unskilled Worker), Jayde Fish, Angelica Hicks, Ignasi Monreal, William Ndatira, John Yuyi, and others.
Michele’s concept for Gucci Garden is one brimming with imagination, possibility, and life (full of flora and fauna, of course). It’s both a celebration of the brand’s rich heritage, and a space to dream of its future, with a focus on a unique visitor experience.
Housed in the ancient Palazzo della Mercanzia in the Piazza della Signoria, Gucci Garden includes a restaurant, boutique, and gallery. The bright boutique on the first floor takes over two rooms devoted to an exclusive Gucci Garden collection. All items—including clothing, shoes, bags, home goods, books, and stationary—are only available in Florence and no other Gucci store, creating a unique shopping experience for visitors. Bright walls, hand-painted floors, found hutches and wardrobes, tables with upholstered display cases, and one-of-a-kind mannequins and hangers, provide the backdrop to embellished silk bombers, custom jewelry, cat and bat embossed leather goods, embroidered garments, and Gucci-Garden themed accessories. An image of an eye illustrated in black against a pink backdrop is seen on several new items, as well as acting as a beacon in the form of a neon sign on the exterior of the building.
Also on the first floor is Gucci Osteria, a restaurant from chef Massimo Bottura (known for the three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana). He designed an international menu, that mixes classic Italian dishes with new takes on staples from around the world like hot dogs, burgers, buns, and tostadas. “The restaurant is a reminder that Florence has always been a center of cultural exchange, particularly during the Renaissance,” said Botturo in a statement. Moss green walls and deep teal banquets complement a border of gold letters that spell out lines from a 15th-century song by Lorenzo de’ Medici. Large crests of butchers, bakers, cobblers, and more line the walls in homage to the merchants who occupied the space so many years ago.
The upper two floors are devoted to the Gucci Garden Galleria, curated by fashion critic Maria Luisa Frisa, the head of the Fashion Design and Multimedia Arts BA degree course at Iuav University in Venice. The current exhibition was designed to be interactive and intentionally not chronological. Instead, she focused on a set of themes mixing past with present, to better give visitors an idea of the experimentation, inspiration, and laboratory-like approach to the fashion house and Alessandro Michele’s creative process.
Recent designs by Michele are mixed with examples of pieces by Tom Ford, Frida Giannini, and looks from the 70s. We see older Gucci monograms—between red dolphins, within a multi-colored cube, in script—for the first time, looking surprisingly of the moment. Historic trunks and luggage relate anew to today’s codes of the horseshoe and bamboo handle. Video displays of social media campaigns, advertisements, and atelier footage complement digital animations of snakes, birds, and butterflies. Walls are covered in work by artist collaborators Coco Capitán, Trevor Andrew, and Jayde Fish. Befitting of the name “Gucci Garden,” two rooms are devoted to the plants and animals that have long served as an inspiration for the house, and certainly plays a huge role in Michele’s collections.
Gucci Garden is now open to the public in its new permanent home, offering visitors a truly contemporary take on the heritage museum. Instead of bogging down visitors with brand history and celebrity culture, it provides a space to indulge the palate, satisfy the aesthete, and inspire the dream of fashion.