Gucci’s blockbuster show Cosmos has opened at 180 Studios in London, charting the fashion house’s 102-year-long evolution from luggage atelier to runway through a series of immersive spaces and sets designed by Es Devlin.
The international show premiered in Shanghai in April, with sets designed by the British artist. Devlin has added two new rooms for its London iteration, conceived with Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno and Italian fashion theorist and critic Maria Luisa Frisa.
Gucci founder Guccio Gucci had a special relationship with London – it was while he was working as a porter at The Savoy in the 1890s he was inspired to create his first line of luggage, the cornerstone of the fashion house. In homage, the exhibition starts with a recreation of The Savoy’s famous lobby, complete with a checkerboard marble floor and iconic red elevator.
‘The Ascending Room’ (as it was nicknamed by founder Richard D’Oyly Carte) is the first electric elevator in the capital, complete with an ornate lacquered interior. This rich and opulent space sets the scene for what’s to come – exit the lift into the exhibition proper, where colour guides visitors through a series of rooms that touch upon critical moments in the fashion house’s history and the creative directors who have shaped it, from Guccio Gucci to Tom Ford, Frida Giannini and Alessandro Michele to De Sarno.
The first stop out of the lift is Portals – a trio of all-white, circular rooms outfitted with rotating carousels displaying suitcases and handbags from the early 19th century to the present. On one conveyor belt, trunks sprouts flowers, while another stands on its end, its all-white interior a minimalist doll’s house.
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Next door is Zeotrope, where the checkerboard theme switches to black in homage to Gucci’s equestrian heritage. Its horse bit motif is explored in depth with equestrian-inspired looks (think leather harnesses, riding jackets and crops) interspersing Devlin’s ghostly multimedia artworks of galloping horses.
Eden is a more delicate display that celebrates the house’s flora and fauna prints of the 1960s. Giant dragonflies and butterflies climb up the vaulted arches of the room, seemingly taking flight from the sketches and silk scarves of the archival pieces – albeit on an otherworldly scale.
Five more spaces await discovery, including an all-blue archival room whose drawers and cabinets – containing sketches and items never before seen from the archive – are reflected in the mirrored ceiling.
New creative director Sabato De Sarno’s debut collection inspires the final space – the Gucci Ancora room, which is daubed in the brand’s new signature Rosso Ancora colour.
Once visitors have made their way through a century of ground-breaking design, they can grab refreshments at the ground floor Gucci cafe, decorated with vintage wallpaper and serving red-themed drinks and snacks.
Gucci Cosmos runs at 180 Studios until 31 December 2023, after which it leaves London for Paris, followed by Kyoto. Each stop of the travelling exhibition’s international tour highlights the unique link between Gucci and its host city, digging deeper into the brand’s global connections. You can get your tickets for the London instalment here.