Inside Gucci Cosmos, the House’s Exhibition Extravaganza in London

Gucci’s travelling Cosmos circus has landed in London, this slick new exhibition roams its expansive archive and many iterations, from the label’s beginnings as a luggage maker, to its position as a titan in fashion and luxury. Running until 31 December 2023, the exhibition is hosted at 180 The Strand a site of special significance to the house thanks to its proximity to the Savoy hotel, where founder Guccio Gucci began working as a porter in 1897 and where he first came into contact with the fine luggage that would go on to inspire his eponymous brand.

The exhibition was shown in its first iteration in June 2023 in Shanghai, China, featuring dramatic set pieces by Es Devlin and an expansive array of objects from the Gucci archive. Devlin returns once again for Gucci Cosmos in London, the British artist and set designer creating various ‘worlds’ in the exhibition space from gleaming corridors evocative of surreal clothing archives to a room filled with floating flowers and bees to evoke Gucci’s signature ‘Flora’ motif.  Curated by Italian fashion critic Maria Luisa Frisa to recall the celestial patterns found in constellations and time travel through the house’s past, present and future. 

Guests enter through a reconstruction of the famed duomo of Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral but are immediately transported to a replica of the Savoy hotel lobby as it would have looked at the end of the 19th century.

Like the elastic codes of the house, adapted through the years with each iconic creative director at the helm, nothing appears static in the show space. Each of the ten rooms is a ‘world’ that draws together treasures – many previously unseen – pulled from Gucci’s archives, which roam the many facets of the house and its unwavering principles.

A room named Portals consists the brand’s origins in travel with a gently rotating luggage belt – complete with suitcases, trunks and hat boxes, both archival and from recent designers at the house – while ‘Zoetrope’ evokes photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s 1878 moving-image invention with swirling footage of horses that emerge as apparitions across equestrian-inspired pieces from Gucci’s various eras.

Gucci Ancora a new room that wasn’t yet made in the Shanghai iteration is directly inspired by the newly inaugurated creative director Sabato De Sarno’s debut collection, which wiped the slate clean for the house less than a month ago when he took the baton from Alessandro Michele. Immersed in red, a colour that De Sarno has said will be central to his tenure inspired by the red walls of The Savoy lift a central screen shows a visual collage of the Italian designer’s inspirations, from fragments of poetry to flashing images of oceans, candles, explosions, and cities. 

“Gucci Cosmos, a project in the form of an exhibition inaugurated in Shanghai and now located in London, was an extraordinary opportunity for me to traverse the universe of Gucci through an ever-different lens,” says Frisa.