gucci cosmos london

Gucci Cosmos exhibition opens in London

11 Oct 2023 | |By Zoe Gunn

Step inside the world of the Italian maison at 180 The Strand

Italian fashion house Gucci has today marked the opening of a new immersive exhibition, Gucci Cosmos, in London. Running until 31 December 2023, the exhibition is hosted at 180 The Strand – a site of special significance to the house thanks to its proximity to the Savoy hotel, where founder Guccio Gucci began working as a porter in 1897 and where he first came into contact with the fine luggage that would go on to inspire his eponymous brand.

For the second edition of the Gucci Cosmos exhibition – the first was held in Shanghai in 2022 – show designer Es Devlin and curator Maria Luisa Frisa have worked with the brand to ground the show in Gucci’s ties to the capital across 11 distinct spaces. Guests enter through a reconstruction of the famed duomo of Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral (in Guccio Gucci’s hometown) but are immediately transported to a replica of the Savoy hotel lobby as it would have looked at the end of the 19th century.

Here, visitors will find a Gucci-branded café before entering the exhibition proper via the Ascending Room: a recreation of the red lacquered lift which became something of a tourist attraction for the Savoy in the early 20th century. The first electric elevator in London, it took seven minutes to climb seven floors and, so unusual was the experience to its Victorian users, that many required smelling salts and brandy to get through the journey. Gucci Cosmos recounts this tale via video projection, explaining that it was riding up and down in this lift all day that Guccio Gucci came to study and admire the finer details of both the luggage and the aristocratic clientele that would go on to make his name.

“As a creative endeavour and expression of the times, the house and its history over the past century can be mapped through an ability to evolve,” says Devlin. “Rather like a garment itself that is able to be changed and re-tailored, like a shedded skin that constantly renews itself. For the exhibition’s iteration in London, I wanted draw on the city’s pivotal role in the house’s origin myth, in which a young Guccio Gucci rode up and down the red lacquered ‘Ascending Room’ and where his interactions with guests and their exquisite luggage would go on to forge his future.”

From here, Gucci Cosmos veers away from a chronological retelling of the brand’s story, instead examining its cultural impact and longevity via signature designs, famous clientele, house motifs and an impressive archive of clothing and accessories. One particularly notable space recreates the Gucci archives in Florence – a maze-like area filled with Bamboo bags from 1947, the 1961 Jackie and Gucci Diana bag, alongside pieces from the eras of Tom Ford, Alessandro Michele and recently-installed creative director Sabato De Sarno.

gucci cosmos carousel

While these are presented museum-style, visitors are encouraged to pull open draws and discover illustrations by Vittorio Accornero de Testa, archival advertising campaigns and technical drawings in a re-envisioning of the creative process a designer may go through when approaching a new collection.

Other highlights of the exhibition include Zoetrope and Eden – two juxtaposing rooms that respectively interrogate Gucci’s strong connections with equestrian life and nature – and Carousel: a parade of 25 mannequins dressed in famed Gucci designs dating back to the 1970s. Localised for the London edition of the exhibition, these include a red velvet suit worn by Kate Moss and pieces donned by Harry Styles and Elton John, as well as three looks from Sabato De Sarno’s debut SS24 collection presented in Milan in September.

gucci cosmos portal

Also new for its arrival in London is Gucci Ancora: the exhibition’s final room inspired directly by the work of De Sarno. An ode to the house’s new signature red hue, Rosso Ancora, a central cube structure projects a red-tinted video made up of memories, phrases, poetry and other fragments narrated by Devlin and De Sarno. Translating from Italian as ‘still’ or ‘again’, it’s a fitting finale for an exhibition celebrating Gucci’s ability to evolve and innovate while respecting the legacy of its founder.

“Gucci Cosmos, a project in the form of an exhibition inaugurated in Shanghai and now located in London, was an extraordinary opportunity for me to traverse the universe of Gucci through an ever-different lens,” says Frisa. “I was able to tell its story through the clothes, objects, elements, people, and contexts that made this brand iconic and a trailblazer within fashion and collective visual culture for over a century.

“It is a challenge to work on an exhibition that evolves based on different spaces and the atmosphere of the cities that host it, and therefore demands reflection on the special connection between London and fashion, to reconfigure the relationship between the elements and the selection of objects. Gucci Cosmos is an immersive expository experience in which the origin story and history itself are continuously put to the test by the imagination of the future.”

Gucci Cosmos is on at 180 The Strand until 31 December 2023, book tickets at

Read more: Inside the V&A’s blockbuster Chanel exhibition