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Backstage at Gucci AW16
Backstage at Gucci AW16Photography Martina Ferrara

The NYC graffiti artist who spray-painted Gucci AW16

We speak to GucciGhost, AKA Trouble Andrew – Alessandro Michele’s latest hire

Since taking the helm at Gucci in January of last year, Alessandro Michele has enlisted the help of a roster of creative talents to help him craft the house’s new aesthetic – such as photographer Glen Luchford and filmmaker Matt Lambert, who have worked on its campaigns, and actress/model/writer Hari Nef and photographer Petra Collins, who have walked in its shows. At yesterday’s show – for the house’s AW16 womenswear collection – Michele worked with another talent: graffiti artist GucciGhost (AKA Trouble Andrew). Andrew made a name for himself by branding items – from rubbish bins to random walls in his neighbourhood – with Gucci’s double-G logo. Michele, however, gave the graffiti artist a new canvas: his AW16 collection.

Under Gucci’s former creative director Frida Giannini, the idea of the house working with someone like Andrew would have seemed preposterous, but under Michele it’s totally plausible and completely in-line with his eclectic vision. While many designers try and distance themselves as much as possible from those who plagiarise or appropriate their logos, Michele did the exact opposite – inviting him to collaborate with him. “I saw the way Trevor was using the symbol of the company and I thought it was quite genius,” Michele told WWD. “It’s completely different from the idea of copying. It’s the idea that you try to take to the street, through language like graffiti, the symbols of the company.” 

In the wake of yesterday’s show, we caught up with Andrew to find out more about this unlikely pairing.

Can you tell us about how you met Alessandro and how this collaboration came about?

Trouble Andrew: Sure, I had started this GucciGhost project a couple years ago. My long-time friend Ari Marcopolous had shown them what I had done previously, some of my videos in my creative space where it’s just like, Gucci everything. So yeah, we got on a call and they were like, ‘Can you come out to Rome next week?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, totally!’ So we went to Rome and met Alessandro and he was like, ‘Cool, here’s a space to paint, feel free to do whatever you want.’

Did he give you items to paint?

Trouble Andrew: Yeah, he brought me all sorts of stuff – bags, jackets, and then I did some work on canvases and paper. Then we made prints out of all of that stuff and I hand-painted a lot of jackets, and then we worked together to make them even crazier.

So GucciGhost started as a Halloween costume?

Trouble Andrew: Yeah, but that came out of my obsession with Gucci.

Why are you so obsessed with Gucci?

Trouble Andrew: I think it’s just what Gucci represents. For me, the first luxury item I ever bought was a Gucci watch. It meant so much to me to get to a place where I could walk into the shop and buy this Gucci watch, so it held so much value beyond what I paid for it. But I don’t have the money to buy all the pieces that I want, so I started making my own world where everything around me is Gucci, especially things that I thought weren’t so pretty, like a shitty set of garbage cans. Then I got really literal and started writing, ‘Life is Gucci’, ‘Real Gucci’ and all these things that represented positivity – almost like Gucci is the ‘God of fashion’ and that’s what the ‘G’ represents to me.

Did Alessandro tell you anything about the inspirations behind the collection?

Trouble Andrew: I wasn’t told anything. I was given free rein to do whatever I wanted. I did a lot of stuff, so they had a lot of stuff to choose from, which is really fun. I enjoy it, I’m obsessed with it; I just wanted to paint, paint, paint. Even until yesterday I was painting until, like, six in the evening. One of the jackets I did at like five o’clock.

Was it still drying?

Trouble Andrew: Yeah, it stunk of paint in the office. They were like, ‘We’re going to have to get him his own office.’ So I would paint and bring stuff back up and by the time I would bring something back up, he had messed with it and added on. ‘There was not one time when I was like, Oh no, you shouldn’t have done that,’ and he never did that with me either. We just made a whole bunch of stuff and some of it works really well.

Can you sum up what Gucci means to you?

Trouble Andrew: I think that it means greatness. It’s like climbing to the top, and it’s the peak of the mountain and you’re there. It’s an honour to be with such a great brand, a brand that has had serious significance in my life. To be a part of bringing new ideas to the table has just been super-fun.