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Gucci's huge, new immersive exhibit in Shanghai is totally wild

The exhibition shows off 16 advertising campaigns from Creative Director Alessandro Michele

Photograph: courtesy Gucci
As part of its 100-year anniversary celebrations, luxury fashion label Gucci has recently embarked on a trip around the world to show off 16 of its acclaimed advertising campaigns led by Creative Director Alessandro Michele in an exhibition that showcases his six years heading the house’s design and vision – and it’s totally OTT. Titled Gucci Garden Archetypes, the free exhibition began in the brand’s birthplace Florence and is being reproduced in other big designer capitals like Tokyo, Sydney and LA, but the first leg is happening right here in Shanghai.

Set across the first floor of the Shanghai Exhibition Centre’s East Hall, it’s an immersive behind-the-scenes encounter with some of the most iconic moments from Michele’s era. In one room you’re surrounded by the ‘imperfect’ smiles from his famous Gucci Beauty lipstick campaign, while another puts you in the Berlin nightclub bathroom that served as the set for its Spring Summer 2016 campaign. There’s lots of Gucci goodness to take in and here are five of the highlights – cameras at the ready, those Moments don’t go up on their own.

Room 03: Of Course a Horse

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Photograph: courtesy Gucci

Standing in the centre of a room is a hybrid centaur fashioned from many different parts; hair, legs, purses, gloves and belts are fused together into an enigmatic device that brings the 2020 Spring Summer campaign to life. The campaign video recounts a dream sequence of fellowship between horse and man as they go on adventures in sunny Los Angeles. The robotic creature holds fractured pieces of the campaign that celebrates the freedom that comes with breaking the rules.

Room 11: Gucci Beauty Network

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Photograph: Nani Mei Martin

Enter this exhibit and you’ll be greeted with a multi-screen display of smiling red lips – the most notable being punk singer Dani Miller’s iconic grin. A celebration of the fashion house’s debut Gucci Beauty collection, the lipstick campaign ‘for the bold, the bright, and the beautiful’ challenges traditional beauty standards. The monitors assemble and take apart images of playful, red-lipped women in bright clothes and big smiles, symbolising the joy and liberation that comes with separating yourself from society’s 'ideals'.

Room 12: Gucci Collectors

Photography: courtesy Gucci

Thanks to the multiplying effect of surrounding mirrors, the Gucci Collectors exhibit is a kaleidoscope of colour featuring a seemingly endless room of objects critical to the 2018 Autumn Winter campaign. The brightly lit cases display antique clocks, stuffed animals, butterflies and purses, all of which makes you feel like you’re wandering through a collector’s secret paradise.

Room 13: Gucci Gothic

Photograph: Nani Mei Martin

Inspired by the legend of Noah’s Ark, relive the Gucci Cruise 2019 campaign through this installation featuring a boardwalk that immerses you in a series of images flashing by as if you were a passenger among man and nature, all flocking towards the ark to set sail for a brighter world.

Room 14: Gucci Hallucination

Photograph: courtesy Gucci

Check out works by Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal that’ll take you through the story of the 2018 Spring Summer collection. An intense 860-hour work process, the installation caused him in his own words to experience ‘Gucci hallucinations’. The series paints a picture of coexisting universes within which are elements of pre-Raphaelite and Renaissance beauty, fairytale landscapes and mythical creatures.

Room 17: The Beloved Show

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Photograph: courtesy Nani Mei Martin

A reproduction of the Gucci Beloved campaign that paid tribute to the timeless ritual of talk shows, but with a twist: Gucci’s famous handbags are the star. The display is an expression of devotion to the accessory, establishing a dialogue and bringing the pieces to life.

Photograph: courtesy Gucci

The exhibition is open every day of the week from 10am to 8pm (except Wednesdays when it’s 10am to 5pm). There’s also a gift shop that stocks wares like stationery and canvas totes that you can usually only find in Gucci Garden in Florence. While entry is free, bookings are essential, which can be done though Gucci’s mini program accessed via its official WeChat account.

Venue details: Shanghai Exhibition Centre, 1000 Yanan Lu, near Tongren Lu. Until Sun Aug 1; closed on Thu Jul 22. Free entry.