cabinet of curiosities

Inside Alessandro Michele’s fantastical Gucci stationary store
By Finn Blythe | Fashion | 7 September 2021

Bridging fantasy and reality has been nothing short of an obsession for Alessandro Michele since taking the helm at Gucci. His latest venture sees the designer dig deep into treasured childhood memories of the stationary stores he’d visit as a boy, fleeting moments of wonder that he now hopes to re-create with a temporary space in Milan that coincides with the city’s annual Design Week.

GALLERY

As you might imagine, this is far from your high street Rymans. As with so many things, the Italian concept of a stationary store is in fact something much more refined, extending beyond staples and highlighters to include exquisitely crafted objects of intrigue and fascination. Fittingly, the temporary two-week cartoleria that’s opened in Via Manzoni this week is brimming with exactly that, a cornucopia of curios, trinkets and collector items that wouldn’t look out of place in a Harry Potter film. Perhaps that’s fitting too, given that the space is about recreating an inherently childish sense of wonder and awe – as much a store as a hideaway, full of distractions from reality.

In Michele’s own words: “When I was a child, going to the stationery store and finding pencils, pens, notebooks, games, meant bringing a dream into my daily routine. They were fine, well-made objects that spoke of craftsmanship and that, though part of my everyday life, were able to give off a magical, mysterious and wonderful aura. For this reason, presenting the Gucci Lifestyle collection in Milan through the Gucci Cartoleria is a sort of consecration, a tribute that was right for me to pay.”

“So, I imagined a small cabinet of curiosities, a Wunderkammer, like the cave of Ali Baba, that could accommodate these everyday objects and return them to a fairy-tale dimension. I could have included them in the collections long ago, but they were not strictly related to clothing and accessories. That’s why I wanted to build a whimsical space where they could be laid out, to restore to everyday life that sense of wonder that makes them so dear to me.”

Inside the space, Gucci have unveiled a hugely expanded Lifestyle collection. There’s your standard stationary shop trappings (if standard can ever be used in the context of Gucci), notebooks, pads, pens and pencils, all crafted to the highest standard and emblazoned with the GG monogram. Dig a little deeper however and you’ll find playing cards made by a historic Italian workshop, monogrammed playing dice, and poker or backgammon sets that come in briefcases fit for a Bond villain. This is technically a lifestyle collection, but life as seen through the eyes of Gucci.

Gucci Cartoleria is open until 17 September at Via Manzoni 19, Milan.

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