“I painted from the perspective of how I imagined Alessandro Michele as a little boy in his garden with his dogs. Many of the elements that Alessandro uses for the collections have been with him since childhood and I do the same. The snake belt he is wearing isn’t Gucci; it was the belt I wore as a child. I always try to add in a little something of me,” said Unskilled Worker on her illustration “Little Lallo” (above).
Under the hands of creative director Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s Renaissance has been marked with influences from the art world. One of his earlier projects was the No Longer/Not Yet exhibition held in Shanghai’s Minsheng Art Museum back in October 2015, where artists were invited to explore the concept: “What does contemporary mean?”. Among the nine talents was Unskilled Worker, who now takes her turn for a guest spot at Gucci, following recent creative alliances with Coco Capitán and Dapper Dan.
Despite the modest moniker, Helen Downie’s partnership with Alessandro Michele has now blossomed into a full-fledged 40-piece capsule collection. Ready-to-wear, shoes, bags, silks and accessories feature portraits and floral designs in the self-taught artist’s renowned dreamy childlike style in exuberant colours, endowing a playful spirit on Michele’s well-loved eclectic Romanticism.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the way people invent themselves through their appearance. So when I began painting it was only natural that it would become part of my work,” she explains. “The Gucci paintings are an emotional response to Alessandro’s work. It’s been like a creative conversation. I think we both like hidden elements in our work. It’s been so exciting to discover his world and then mix it in with mine. Little secrets are threaded through the work, things held dear since childhood. It’s intensely personal.”
The online-exclusive release may be limited to Europe, United States, Canada, UAE, China, Japan, Australia and South Korea, but Singapore fans can still get a slice of the collaboration through a special commemorative painting that you can adorn your computer or mobile phone. Download for free on Gucci.com or Unskilled Worker.co.uk from tomorrow, Wednesday 11 October.