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Gucci’s new Instagram explores global beauty through the centuries

Lois Mailou Jones on Gucci Beauty Instagram
A study of beauty.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Gucci’s new Instagram account, Gucci Beauty (@guccibeauty), isn’t your typical beauty account, full of lipstick swatches and influencer ads. Instead, the fashion brand’s feed looks more like a museum-grade art page.

Indeed, a perusal of the new account offers a brief but compelling study of the history of beauty, and communicates how ideals of beauty have traversed the globe across centuries, evolving and enduring across cultures and eras. It currently features over two dozen works of art, spanning a period from AD 90 to 2018—in a variety of styles, from Indian Kangra paintings to Renaissance period sfumato.

Curated by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele and staffed by five art writers who give detailed backgrounds of each work, the profile has already attracted almost 30,000 followers in the five days it has been up.

The selection is equally diverse in its subjects: There are several paintings of European noblewomen from the Elizabethan era, as well as Edo period woodblocks from Japan, and even a striking mummy portrait from Egypt.

The paintings were sourced and licensed for the project from various galleries, prestigious museums like the Met and LACMA, and private collections. Each image, which is captioned a bit like an art history textbook, highlights the specific elements of beauty marked in the painting: Writers point out the long lashes and loose curls of a funerary panel from 2,000 years ago, the accessories worn by a Chinese court lady from the mid 19th century.

Gucci has turned to art for its campaigns before, but has doubled down on it under Michele’s lead. Most recently, the label’s spring/summer 2018 “Hallucination” campaign re-imagined classic artworks—like Millais’ Ophelia and Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights—with the characters in head-to-toe Gucci.

Some industry publications are speculating that the account is a creative tease for a new and improved beauty line. While the Kering-owned company continues to rake in cash (paywall) through its fashion and accessories departments, its beauty line pretty much flopped after its 2014 launch. But that was before Michele, whose distinctive—and sometimes frankly weird—collections have been a smashing success. He has yet to touch cosmetics, but seems to be cleverly positioning the brand against its competitors, like YSL and Chanel, which have successfully launched beauty-focused verticals on Instagram (paywall).

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