Gucci’s latest creation, the Cruise 2024 collection, invites the elite into a realm where the past and present intertwine effortlessly. Embarking on an extraordinary journey, Gucci delves into its remarkable archives through the prism of the Hallyu phenomenon, all set amidst the resplendent and storied grounds of Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace.
When the pursuit of novel locations has exhausted all possibilities, one must return to the roots of antiquity. And that is precisely what Gucci has accomplished with its Cruise 2024 collection. In a groundbreaking move, the revered 628-year-old heritage brand selected the iconic Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul as the backdrop for its final collection by the in-house designers, just before the arrival of the esteemed, Sabato De Sarno. This transitional season allowed Gucci to focus on reviving archival silhouettes, thereby immersing itself in the essence and sophistication of Hallyu, which stands as the epitome of influence in contemporary fashion, luxury, and global culture.
It is unnecessary to elaborate on the significance of the Korean market in the fashion industry, considering Gucci’s Seoul runway debut only a few months after Dior and Louis Vuitton. Had the previous creative director, Alessandro Michele, showcased his Cosmogenie Collection in Seoul last October, Gucci would have claimed second place on this prestigious list. The brand’s history with Korea began in 1998 when it unveiled its first flagship store in the country, precisely 25 years prior to this remarkable show. However, it was the appointment of EXO member Kai as Gucci’s inaugural Korean global brand ambassador in 2019 that solidified the brand’s contemporary presence, making it a magnet for Korean ambassadors and VIPs in the realm of fashion. Gucci, as one of the few luxury brands to successfully navigate and ascend with the Hallyu wave, has become synonymous with its ebbs and flows.
Choosing to showcase within the heart of South Korea’s capital, a de facto tourist destination, carries profound symbolism beyond mere brand presence. Gyeongbokgung Palace holds historical significance as the birthplace of hangul, the Korean alphabet, a center of early artistic and scientific developments, and a host to foreign diplomats and VIPs during the Joseon dynasty. By presenting its Cruise 2024 collection to fashion’s esteemed foreign dignitaries within this historically rich venue, Gucci embraces the bold and captivating spirit of the Korean fashion landscape that inspired the design of the collection. It is this remarkable synchrony between attire and design that establishes the season’s youthful, experimental, and ever-evolving nature—a testament to Gucci’s recent mastery of contemporary aesthetics.
Accompanied by the evocative scores from acclaimed films such as “Oldboy,” “Parasite,” and “Squid Game,” the Cruise 2024 collection effortlessly weaves together the sights of Seoul’s vibrant streets with the customs of South Korean traditional dress. The collection offers a layered exploration of archival silhouettes from the late 1990s, vividly expressed through the mesmerizing colors of the 2010s.
Amidst the myriad influences, the show remained cohesive, crystal clear, and an exquisite homage to culture. Thick silk bands adorning the chest artfully mimic the goreum, a single-earred ribbon reminiscent of the traditional Korean dress. Attendees’ Gucci bags adorned with an assortment of charms evoke the norigae, traditional decorative pendants. Even the Gucci Web, magnified to striking proportions, pays homage to the saekdong, a satin fabric with vibrant vertical bands, seamlessly referencing the hanbok—a testament to Korea’s paramount role in fashion history, executed with the grace and elegance it deserves.
The in-house design team expertly interweaves historical tributes with a deep understanding of contemporary fashion. Delicate evening gowns and demure bouclé skirt suits are transformed into modular pieces, while bomber jackets and hoodies elongate into breathtaking dresses. South Korean artist Ram Han’s contribution adds another dimension as hyper-sensory biomorphic motifs, inspired by both Oriental art and Y2K sentiments, embellish dresses and hoodies. Gucci’s characteristic bourgeois effects of lustrous metallics, glimmering crystals, and shimmering sequins add the final touch, harmonizing perfectly with Korean street style’s duality and hybridity.
The collection generously embraces the relaxed and voluminous cuts reminiscent of skateboarding wear, evident in the coats, dress shirts, and billowy trousers. Caps tantalizingly hint at a potential collaboration with the renowned French workwear brand Danton, building on Gucci’s audacious partnership with Dickies last year. Scuba wetsuit elements ingeniously transform into bodices, one-pieces, and shorts, evoking the archival presence of the 1990s alongside Seoul’s recent fascination with windsurfing and jet-skiing in the Han River.