Imagine Ronaldo and Messi in the same team? Or an album by Kanye West and Drake? Or a sneaker collab between adidas and Nike? Those are the kind of levels we're dealing at when it comes to the rumors that Balenciaga is set to team up with Gucci, as reported by WWD.

It's speculated the partnership will be unveiled as part of Gucci's “Aria” collection, which is set to be presented digitally as a series of short films on Thursday. Quite what Demna Gvasalia's input was isn't exactly clear, but it's a notable development given Kering Group labels have removed themselves from this season’s Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks, thought to be part of a wider company strategy. Alessandro Michele, you may recall, announced he will only show twice per year and has begun experimenting with new ways to present his vision. Gvasalia, meanwhile, has also been experimenting with roll-out.

The news comes not long after Gucci reported poor sales figures for the fourth quarter of 2020, dropping 10 percent year-on-year. A cynic might suggest that such a titanic coming together is an obvious hype-generator for a company looking to get back to growth — a must for Kering given how, despite a relatively harsh 2020, the Italian house still accounts for close to two-thirds of its $19 billion profits. It's also worth noting that "Aria" marks Gucci's 100-year anniversary, meaning this could well be a special centenary one-off. If it is indeed the new normal, then we could be about to witness the cross-pollination of sister labels in a way never-before-seen.

It's not the first time two luxury names under the same umbrella have collaborated before: Most recently, LVMH's Alexandre Arnault brokered a collection between Rimowa and Kim Jones's Dior in 2019. But in terms of scale and clout, it is entirely unprecedented. Bear in mind both brands ranked first (Gucci) and second (Balenciaga) in Lyst's most recent Q4 power rankings, with the former buoyed by its #Guccifest film festival and The North Face tie-up.

Ostensibly odd bed-fellows (at least as far as aesthetics go), Michele and Gvasalia have more in common than one might first assume. After turning the fashion world upside down in 2016, the duo has both preached the importance of individuality and expressed their distaste for the ephemerality of fashion. Interestingly, they also read from the same hymn sheet in terms of genderless collections. If you haven't, it's well worth checking out Alexander Fury's New York Times piece from 2016.

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