I’m not sure who was in charge of naming Harry Styles as the brand ambassador for Gucci. But I’m here to say that person deserves a raise.
I’ve seen countless campaigns featuring celebrities — who hasn’t? At this point, the celeb spokesperson is non-negotiable; think Raf Simons era Dior with Jennifer Lawrence or Miu Miu and Elle Fanning. However, I’ve yet to see a collaboration executed as smartly as the one between Styles and Gucci.
To be frank, my feelings for Alessandro Michele’s Gucci fall slightly north of lukewarm. While he’s had some major hits, he’s also created some duds. The man wholeheartedly embraces maximalism and doesn’t shy away from the bizarre, so naturally he’s designed a few eyebrow– raisers . (Those goat hair slippers cost $1,800, by the way.)
Michele’s designs are outlandish and flamboyant. They require more than confidence to pull off— they necessitate a certain swagger that emanates only from undeniable coolness, which Styles serves up in spades. He pulls off the designs with ease, and, consequently, the clothing has never looked better.
This is perhaps best illustrated by the campaign video, which, for the record, I can’t stop watching. Styles, dressed in an impeccably-tailored, double-breasted suit, saunters down the sidewalk of a London street and into a fish-and-chip shop, all while carrying a chicken. Sound weird? Strangely, it isn’t. The Beatles’s “Michelle” echoes in the background, lending a serene vibe to the whole video. The chicken roams around, people eat fish and chips; it’s all wonderfully strange, but ultimately coherent. It seems believable that a such-dressed Styles would casually eat fried food in a bespoke suit. And boy, does he ever look good doing it.
Gucci then followed up the first massively brilliant campaign with another one this past fall, once more starring Styles and some more barnyard animals. This time our protagonist and his furry friends are power-posing in a 16th century Italian villa. The clothes showcased in this campaign are more outlandish than the previous. Notable pieces include a lilac pussy-bow blouse, a baroque floral jacket with velvet lapels and a paisley kimono. Yet once more, against all odds, Styles pulls it off with panache.
This speaks more broadly to Styles’s charisma. The man is comfortable with flamboyance. He courts it in a manner unparalleled by his peers. While his male pop compatriots are zigging, he’s zagging. He neither adopts the ‘I tried, but not too hard’ (Shawn Mendes, Niall Horan) nor the ‘I haven’t tried at all’ (Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran) aesthetic. Instead he pledges to a more deliberate fashion. Every public look is culled and curated and in effect creates a genuine stage persona. He has successfully leveraged the partnership with Gucci into a branding opportunity for himself, which propelled him to chairing the 2019 Met Gala. He is establishing himself as the true heir of the era of glam rock. And of course, the best way to do that is with some killer outfits.
Which brings me to this, the greatest thing any performer has worn in recent memory. Gucci released a statement on Twitter, saying “Harry wore a custom Gucci jacquard print suit [with a white crystal embroidered lapel and lurex trim detail, [and a] lurex shirt with pleated bow.” This translates roughly to: sparkly suit with an even sparklier pussy-bow blouse underneath. Sans context, this description spells trouble. Yet in practice, it excels sartorially. He looks glorious. I immediately like him a thousand times more than I did before, and I suddenly want to go to one of his concerts.
That’s what is brilliant about the collaboration. I leave it liking both parties a whole lot more than I did before. Gucci’s designs look impeccable on Styles, and I suddenly see the fashion house as having a lot more merit; Styles looks like a glam rock god, and I like him more for actually seeming to care.