Friday, June 14, 2024

Gucci filled Tate Modern’s Tanks with thousands of plants for its latest Cruise show

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The Italian creative director of Gucci, Sabato De Sarno – who began his tenure at the house in 2023 – has so far favoured a stripped-back approach to his runway shows, a symbolic departure from the theatrical runway presentations of his forebear Alessandro Michele. His last men’s and womenswear outings in Milan were shown in the Fonderia Carlo Macchi, a concrete-walled former industrial space on the outskirts of the city, with just monolithic Gucci-branded blocks as mise-en-scène (the exact shade: Gucci ‘Ancora’ red, the designer’s signature hue).

For his first Cruise outing for the house – the globe-trotting runway shows synonymous with far-flung locations and arresting show settings – the designer has taken a different tack. Taking place in London’s Tate Modern this evening (13 May 2024), De Sarno transformed the gallery’s subterranean ‘tanks’ into a blown-up terrarium, filled with a lush jungle of around 10,000 different plants. Sabato describes it as a botanic ‘tapestry’, which after the show will be donated to community projects in London, including Life Under the Westway, an urban gardening project led by non-profit Grow to Know which will regenerate West London’s Westway-adjacent Maxilla Gardens.

First look: the Gucci Cruise 2025 show set at Tate Modern

(Image credit: Photography by Greg White)

’The Tanks’ were designed by Herzog & de Meuron and opened in 2012, seeing the Swiss studio excavate and transform three industrial cylinders which would have fuelled the turbines of the former power station which now houses the gallery. De Sarno noted a desire to bring the ’outside in’, imagining the sparse concrete space ’invaded by a poetic panorama of greenery’ in a clash of man and nature. He also noted a feeling of duality, a juxtaposition of what he sees as the two sides of London – its urban architecture versus its famous gardens and parks.

The various plants chosen were selected for their ability to grow in harsh and challenging conditions, making them easily transported to the various community growing projects after the show. These include Epimedium, Vinca, and Dryopteris, which grow well in shady city gardens, while larger shrubs and threes include Hornbeam, Parthenocissus, and Aesculus. Spring foliage, meanwhile, is selected to represent freshness and renewal.

Gucci Cruise 2025 Show Set featuring plants against concrete show set at Tate Modern

(Image credit: Photography by Greg White)

It is also a nod, no doubt, to Gucci’s longtime links with botanicals: its most famous print, besides the house’s double-G monogram, is the ‘Flora’, which first appeared on a silk scarf in the 1960s. Comprising 43 varieties of flowers, plants and insects, the design by Italian illustrator Vittorio Accornero was created for the actress Grace Kelly and inspired by Botticelli’s ‘Allegory of Spring’. It is a motif that has long been part of the house’s heritage, inspiring the house’s 2017 fragrance Gucci Bloom. In March of this year, De Sarno revealed his own campaign for the fragrance, which saw models immersed in a pool of floating flowers.

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