Gucci’s Cruise 2025: A tale of contrasts, celebrities, and China’s crucial role

    In London, Kate Moss, Solange, Zhang Linghe, Wang Churan and Nicolas Tse gathered with fashion insiders for Sabato de Sarno’s first Gucci Cruise show
    Gucci's Cruise 2025 show at the Tate Modern in London. Image: Gucci.
      Published   in Fashion

    What Happened

    Last night, Creative Director Sabato de Sarno’s first Gucci Cruise show juxtaposed the raw, industrial charm of London’s Tate Modern art museum with a lush green setting mirroring the collection’s core theme: a celebration of contrasts.

    With the storied Italian luxury brand at a precarious juncture, finding its renewed identity amid a global luxury slowdown, the theme of contrasts is fitting for more than one reason.

    The show was one of striking dualities: rigor met extravagance, English tradition was fused with Italian flair, the sartorial meshed with the casual, and streetwear melded with high fashion. There were sharp technical gabardine coats alongside delicate chamomile floral motifs and diaphanous fairytale gowns.

    Flower embroideries in 3D laser-cut organza and hand-molded sequins added a tactile dimension alongside smooth, slick leathers. And evening wear elements, like chiffons, lingerie sheers and laces, met with everyday practicality in denim tunics, slouchy jeans and ballet flats.

    Looks from Sabato de Sarno's Gucci Cruise 2025 show in London. Images: Gucci
    Looks from Sabato de Sarno's Gucci Cruise 2025 show in London. Images: Gucci

    The Jing Take

    The video of the show on Gucci’s official Weibo has 6.98 million views and 12,400 likes at the time of writing. This was no doubt boosted by mainland Chinese celebrities Zhang Linghe and Wang Churan, as well as Hong Kong’s Nicholas Tse, attending the event. They joined British and global stars like Dua Lipa, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Solange, and Kate and Lila Moss at the show and after party.

    With East Asian models opening and closing the show, Gucci also subtly nodded to a clearly important market for the brand – and a continent where the brand, like many others, needs to rekindle growth.

    While Gucci leans into its heritage, classicism and the quiet luxury trend sweeping China and beyond, De Sarno made sure that Cruise 2025 had plenty of iconic Gucci elements, such as horsebit details and the Gucci Blondie bag, reimagined with contemporary twists.

    A 1970s vintage vibe pervaded much of the collection, in styling and silhouettes. Casual plaids and denim adopted a relaxed yet refined vibe, lifted by delicate bead fringes.

    So what was the response from typically critical Chinese netizens? Mixed, as a glance over Chinese socials shows. Some, like Xiaohongshu (XHS) user Yuanzilu (源子路), praised De Sabato’s return to wearability and more mature elegance: “I quite like Gucci’s current style and feel I want to own them.” Others were fatigued with the aesthetic.

    At De Sarno’s Gucci, there’s something undeniably sexy about his glossy leathers and sharp cuts that makes for compelling wearability – the on trend sexy 1990s office sirens are well served here, even if some casual fits were underwhelming.

    One of De Sarno’s challenges is generating the fantasy factor that much of high fashion aspires towards, or that obsessive cult “desirability” that so defined his predecessor. But perhaps that’s an unfair comparison, especially in this difficult post-pandemic era of luxury fashion. Gucci’s story underscores fashion’s perpetual challenge of balancing artistic expression with wearability.

    Greater China celebrities at Gucci Cruise 2025: Zhang Linghe, Nicholas Tse and Wang Churan (left to right). Images: Gucci.
    Greater China celebrities at Gucci Cruise 2025: Zhang Linghe, Nicholas Tse and Wang Churan (left to right). Images: Gucci.

    Xiaohongshu user Peekaboom gave their own balanced take post show video: “Sabato’s designs are straightforward and easy to understand; those who like them will really like them, while those who don’t will find them boring. Ultimately, the market will judge his designs. For now, I see many potential bestsellers. The Harrington jackets with a high ‘Miu Miu’ factor might break into mainstream popularity, and the ballet flats should sell well.”

    The recent appointment of award-winning young Chinese actor Song Weilong as Gucci’s brand ambassador could also win fans. But is it enough to generate big excitement in China?

    François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Gucci’s parent company Kering, conceded a notable decline in the company’s first-quarter performance in 2024. He attributed some of the downturn to sluggish market conditions in China, as well as the strategic repositioning of Gucci.

    Despite these woes, a recent report by RTG Consulting Group found Gucci to be the most relevant luxury brand in Shanghai and the second most relevant across Asia-Pacific. Additionally China-based luxury data insights company ReHub found that in terms of digital engagement, Gucci ranked an impressive number two (behind Louis Vuitton) for luxury fashion in its Q1 Luxury Fashion Compass Index.

    So, like the Cruise 2025 collection, Gucci's story is also one of great contrasts.

    The Gucci Cruise 2025 finale in the Tate Modern, London. Image: Gucci
    The Gucci Cruise 2025 finale in the Tate Modern, London. Image: Gucci

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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