Today we profile our second Kering Award Finalist Bella Gonshorovitz, who has explored how far a fashion campaign can go in promoting certain aspects of sustainability. Her focus was on Gucci and below we can hear more about her thinking behind the scenes and how being located in London shaped her thoughts.
Can you briefly explain your project?
BG: My project explores the use of the fashion campaign and particularly of Gucci’s cultural capital to promote ideas of social responsibility, sustainability and empathy. It address both emotional and environmental sustainability, by recognising human behaviour and perception as key aspects.
The theoretical framework for the project employs key psychological studies such as social learning theory, social cognition theory, conditioning and modelling in advertising. For the final presentation I created photoshoot that illustrated the potential use of these in a seasonal Gucci campaign. I have reconstructed styles from previous seasons alongside current ones to endorse the idea that wearing an “old look” is valid and desirable. The cast was chosen to portray the Gucci clientele which is multicultural and diverse.
In what ways did you base your thinking on London, the place where you live and study? Why was that important to you?
BG: The neighborhood I live in – Hackney – was key. One of the fundamental objectives of the project was to portray the real diversity of the people who consume or would like to associate themselves with the brand, and using Gucci’s power to emphasise the beauty of different religions, ages, sizes and physical conditions in a time when society is fragmented.
But casting with this mission in mind was more complex than I imagined and I felt that looking for people to tick boxes was counter-intuitive. To overcome this, I worked with my mentor and decided to go for an ethnographic casting approach, and I distributed an open cast call. So in fact I portrayed the diversity of the Gucci client within Hackeny. I believe that this method could translate to interesting campaign strategy that could wander to different communities around the world.
What was it about Gucci that appealed to you?
BG: Gucci in it’s current incarnation has an unparalleled reach – it is a leading heritage luxury brand that is also at the moment a synonym to high, cutting edge fashion. There is an interesting tension between being exclusive and inclusive and it has the power to influence people that are far and beyond its customer base. I was fascinated by the combination of its influence with inherently sustainable character Alessandro Michelle introduced to the brand, of a seasonless, trend-defying aesthetics. My proposal therefore emerged from my perception of Gucci and the opportunities this complex identity holds. I don’t think I would applied to the award whether it was a different brand.
And finally, what does sustainability in fashion mean to you?
BG: The lack of reflexivity in our industry has bothered me from very early stages of my career and at times made me feel like a bit of an outcast. Learning about sustainability and best practices as made me feel that I belonged more and I felt empowered, it informed my choices and shaped my practice. For me, it’s about acknowledging the problems of our industry, it’s influence on nature, society and human lives. It is also a great creative stimulus and above all necessary.