In a bid to become a more diverse brand, Gucci released the visuals for its pre-fall campaign last Thursday, which featured solely black models.
Taking its inspiration for the ad from late Mali-born photographer Malick Sidibé, who was known for his portraits in the 1960s, Gucci dubbed the campaign "Soul Scene," and aimed to pay tribute to England’s underground Northern Soul movement of that decade.
Set in the rich and colorful dancehalls of the Mildmay Club in London, a short preview of the #GucciPreFall17 campaign film, launching soon. Photographer: @_glen_luchford Creative direction and styling: #AlessandroMichele Art director: @christophersimmonds Soundtrack: “The Night” Written by: Bob Gaudio e Al Ruzicka Performed by: Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons © EMI Music Publishing Italia S.r.l.
Gucci also mentioned on its Instagram page that the ads aspire to celebrate the "men and women who challenge the conventions of society through performance, art and dance."
Models Nicole Atieno, Elibeidy, Bakay Diaby and Keiron Berton Caynes were all featured in the colourful, vibrant photos and short video clip.
The shoot was captured by acclaimed fashion photographer Glen Luchford, and styled by the retailer's creative director Alessandro Michele.
After seeing the striking ads from the luxury giant, many were thrilled to see models of colour and black culture displayed by a high fashion brand.
living for this new Gucci pre-fall campaign! All black models. All magic. ✨💃🏾 pic.twitter.com/tFa83kjyUL
— Nomz (@nneomaluxe) April 13, 2017
— Rickey Smiley (@RickeySmiley) April 15, 2017
And while visually this is a huge step for the luxury retailer, which has been called out for its lack of inclusivity in the past, not everyone seems to be impressed or even believes Gucci deserves any praise at all.
"Stunning images," Twitter user @hempresshannah said of the ads. "Gives me a sense of nostalgia. A sense of community. But you don't need much sense to see Gucci exploiting black culture."
Stunning images. Gives me a sense of nostalgia. A sense of community. But you don't need much sense to see Gucci exploiting black culture.
— Hannah (@hempresshannah) April 14, 2017
Fashion consultant Shiona Turini shared similar thoughts on her Instagram story.
"Why are brands awarded for casting black models or showing off our amazing culture????" she asked. "Why do we 'reward' them!? How many black artists/musicians/actors does Gucci actually dress. OR include on their discount list?"
"It's amazing, but tell me does Gucci advertise in any black publications?" she continued. "I love this ad (and I'll still wear Gucci) but we have to stop congratulating people for just casting black girls. Like congrats, you did what you SHOULD have been doing."
— Oyinkan (@OAdeshoye) April 14, 2017
Nonetheless, the company's CEO Marco Bizzari said to WWD in February that the brand is fully committed to diversity.
"In the past two years, we have implemented a complete turnaround of our company, following our mantra of being the voice of self-expression," he said. "Attracting, retaining and promoting talent, while celebrating ethnic, age, sexual and gender diversity, sexual orientation and gender identity across the company, is our mission."