At Gucci's 2020 fashion show this Tuesday, several pieces on display were more than a little eye opening, as the fashion brand inserted itself into the abortion debate with clothes designed to shock and generate publicity.
Of the collection, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, said “Sometimes in life choices are difficult, but I believe that it is the most difficult decision for a woman. I respect that decision. I respect that decision as I respect the idea that the uterus is a garden. According to the Associate Press, he also said “I wanted to portray the idea that to interrupt a pregnancy does not wipe out the garden, the flower, that is the uterus of every woman."
The 97-piece collection includes clothing featuring the date abortion became legal in Italy, as well as a silk dress with an embroidered uterus on it. Full disclosure: I'm not a woman. But if I were a woman, I'm not sure how I would feel if a luxury brand reduced my whole existence to a body part, however celebratory they tried to make it. Then again, Alessandro Michele isn't a woman, either. At least it looks tasteful, as far as embroidered uteruses go.
Beyond getting tongues wagging and stoking the fires of controversy in the name of fashion, there is a much more cynical reason Gucci is jumping into the debate pool with both feet: It needs to detract from two large PR blunders it's had this year.
According to Time, Gucci has recently faced accusations of racism and cultural appropriation. In February, Gucci withdrew a black balaclava sweater from stores following criticism that the black turtleneck and bright red cut-out lips resembled racist blackface imagery. Earlier this month, Gucci drew backlash over cultural appropriation for selling an $800 turban and positioning an article of faith as a fashion accessory.
It's hard to say if a commemorative date, 40+ year-old slogan, and embroidered uteruses will make everyone forget how insensitive Gucci has been this year. It's also hard to judge who will want to wear any of the pieces either except perhaps rich activists like Alyssa Milano.
But Gucci accomplished what they set out to do: Change the conservation about them.