For 2020, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele has reimagined the label’s keynote scent Gucci Bloom and its campaign alongside the Italian-Canadian director and photographer Floria Sigismondi. An ensemble cast encompasses different faces but also different facets of women: singer-songwriter Florence Welch, actor and director Anjelica Huston, actor Jodie Turner-Smith and model and designer Susie Cave. Here, Cave wears pieces from Michele’s collections for Gucci, while Michele muses on his love of fragrance, nature and unexpected beauty.
In my imagination, scents have a remarkable power: smell is my strongest sense and perfumes are like spells. Scents are a box of memories for me – I am fascinated and enchanted by perfume. So many memories I have come from the fragrances I associate with them. I can’t necessarily recall them all, but I recognise and remember through them the cities and the places I have been; I reconnect past and present through scents. My world of scent, my universe of perfume, is rich. It keeps me connected with so many things: memories, the past, the thoughts they have prompted. Another world.
Gucci Bloom was in fact born from that idea of recovering scents that I recalled from places I had visited when I was young, places where I noticed the particular scents of the gardens and parks. I especially remember going to the countryside surrounding Rome, where I could smell the earth and the foliage mingled together with my mother’s perfume. That was from the city: it was an urban perfume. But I also remember my mother smelling like fresh flowers – I have a strong memory of the ladies of my city smelling like freesias, like tuberoses. I tried to reconnect with that, with a particular kind of eccentricity and elegance of the women who wore these powerful perfumes. I drew those memories together, mixing the intense florals – a man-made nature – with nature itself, the countryside with these flowers that populated the streets of the city where I grew up.
I love strong scents, the smells of nature, the fragrance of flowers. For some time these types of scents fell out of fashion, but I adore them, as I adore all the things that are no longer in fashion. Because the things that were once in fashion hide a meaning. I was intrigued by the perfume of tuberose – it became the starting point for me, for Gucci Bloom. Tuberoses were the flowers that reminded me of times I would walk with my mother in the afternoons. They have the power of memory.
I remember how I met Susie. It was by chance, as nearly always happens with me. I was at the Chateau Marmont in LA and she was there, too, with her husband, Nick Cave, and their son Earl. I thought she was such a beautiful creature, with a graceful voice, marvellous eyes. She looked like a nocturnal animal, a cat, a diva from bygone days. Now we know each other well and we have a close friendship. Susie and all the people I like are satellites in my life – they are a source of positive energy. As with all the people I enjoy having around me, Susie is mysterious, wonderfully unusual in the way she imagines herself. She has an aura.
All the women of Gucci Bloom are artists; they are sources of energy, of creativity. They have personalities, spirit, they are gentle people. A quality I always appreciate, in any human being, is kindness. Florence is a very good friend, an extraordinary artist, a poet. She’s like a goddess. Anjelica has an incredible, charming power and Jodie is so warm and appealing. All four are like feline, elusive women. I love them and they were perfect for Gucci Bloom: they matched the story we wanted to tell with Floria perfectly.
My search for beauty is a search for life – and life is intrinsically connected to strange forms of beauty. I can’t define those – they are, by nature, enigmatic. I like beauty precisely because it’s mysterious, impossible to describe or explain. What is my idea of beauty? I will never be able to answer this question, because beauty hides, it is also elusive, unexpected. Poets can seize on beauty – so, too, do philosophers, artists. And then it escapes. I don’t know what it is. As I always say, I am somehow a broker of beauty, a searcher of beauty, it’s a life purpose. I look for beauty in faraway places, where perhaps no one can see it. I look at things that other people may never look at – other places, other times. I haven’t a modern notion of beauty. Even when I collect objects or jewellery, I pull together things that, in some cases, are not worth collecting – the forgotten, the overlooked. I search for beauty where it is apparently absent. But, always, I find a beauty.
Beauty is like a wind that blows without you noticing. It has the same peculiarity of happiness: when you realise it is there, it is gone. Then it returns, when you least expect it.
Long live beauty.
Hair: Raphael Salley at Saint Luke using ORIBE HAIRCARE. Make-up: Thomas de Kluyver at Art Partner using GUCCI BEAUTY. Manicure: Adam Slee at Streeters using GUCCI BEAUTY. Photographic assistants: Lex Kembery and Simon Mackinlay. Styling assistant: Isabella Kavanagh. Make-up assistant: Lauren Reynolds. Production: Ragi Dholakia. Production assistants: May Powell and Jonny Woodley.
Film edit and music: Charlie Henderson.
This story appears in AnOther Magazine Autumn/Winter 2020, which is on sale internationally from October 1 2020. Taken from a conversation with Alexander Fury.