It was back in November 2020 when Gucci and Alessandro Michele revealed Guccifest, a weeklong mini-film festival comprising 15 short films by upcoming designers worldwide. The whole thing sounded great — an online movie festival by Gus Van Sant featuring some of the world's best bubbling talent that would make us look back on traditional runway shows with the kind of misty-eyed nostalgia usually reserved for obsolete technology. Oh, and starring Harry motherf*cking Styles!
But in reality, watching the grass grow would be a less excruciating way to kill an hour or so. Seriously, if this premiered in the cinema, most people would have walked out after the first couple of shorts, no doubt lamenting the fact they didn't stay at home with Good Will Hunting instead. I don't expect Apocalpyse Now-level cinematic masterpieces — bear in mind brands are still getting to grips with these new formats — but man, this was dry. "The series doesn’t work," wrote Cathy Horyn for The Cut. "It needs a stronger storyline, a real story." Instead, we got a phone call between Styles and art critic Achille Bonito Oliva that was reminiscent of two Goldsmith's art students talking enthusiastically to each other at an afterparty while high on cocaine.
Taking that into account, one could be forgiven for rolling their eyeballs when Gucci announced its latest digital foray in the guise of a late-night show hosted by James Corden. Cards on the table, I find my fellow Brit to be utterly insufferable; if I had a list of people I'd choose to get stuck in a lift with, he'd be pretty much near the bottom. How surprising, then, that the series is actually ... really good?
Whereas the poncy Ouverture of Something That Never Ended was bogged down by overly serious arthouse naval-gazing, this Harmony Korine-directed talk show is light and takes the piss. Joining Styles on the fake set is Serena Williams, Sienna Miller, Diane Keaton, Dakota Johnson, and, Awkwafina, all of whom look comfortable in their own skin while bro'ing out and having a laugh with the surprisingly entertaining Corden. More importantly, where Gucci is concerned, the viewer gets a real eyeball of the handbags — y'know, the product they're trying to sell — in a way that feels subtle rather than forced. The whole thing just works.
"Gucci may have learned a thing or two from their recent film festival and understood that too often the lack of content in fashion films make them boring and therefore unsuccessful," wrote High Fashion Talk director Iolo Edwards on Instagram. "In this campaign, they insert a narrative and comedy that makes you want to watch the content, while seeing the clothing and brand through the meticulous and so Gucci creative direction through and through."
Ambition is always to be admired, but a little frivolity doesn't go a miss, particularly in the current climate. Luxury brands have access to star talent that many directors could only dream of, and while we're not calling for a dumbing down, not everything in fashion has to be constantly serious. Sometimes, a leave-your-brain-at-the-door talk show is more rewarding than some Jodorowsky-esque abstract epic. Here's hoping for more laughs in the future.