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Photograph by Petra Collins.

Gucci and Feminist Theorists Agree: It Really Is the Year of the Dog

Erin Schwartz

Erin Schwartz

Alessandro Michele's Year of the Dog collection, shot by Petra Collins, reminds us why dogs are the best mascot for our moment.

Photograph by Petra Collins.

In her 2003 book The Companion Species Manifesto, feminist theorist Donna Haraway writes: “dogs are about the inescapable, contradictory story of relationships.” She also offers the slogans “Run fast; bite hard!” and, in her book When Species Meet, “Shut up and train!”. I recommend Haraway’s meditations on the leash-tangle of physical and social relations between dogs and people to contextualize Gucci’s Year of the Dog collection, a bonus line of menswear, womenswear, shoes, accessories, and luggage (alas, no dogswear yet) that puts on display Alessandro Michele’s determination to run ahead of the pack.

That 2018 is the Year of the Dog is not Alessandro Michele’s invention, although he’s wise to reference it; it’s a designation of the Chinese zodiac and will officially begin on Chinese New Year, February 16th in Gregorian calendars. It’s the Year of the Dog in another sense: canine symbolism feels especially potent today, in a climate of anxiety over technological encroachment into private life and the moral failings of humanity. If we add the slogan “be the person your dog thinks you are” to Haraway’s pack, we’re worried that, when we see ourselves reflected in the wet and adoring eyes of our pups, we’re not living up to their heroic ideal: we’ve been pretty shabby stewards of the natural world. At the same time, algorithms that refine personal data can anticipate our desires in a way that feels creepy rather than companionable; dogs provide the same affirmation, but they have souls. I’d rather get the newspaper from Fido’s soft, dripping jowls than from Facebook, even if I end up reading the same stories.

We’re already primed for 2018 to become the Year of the Dog, from Heather Phillipson’s dog bots at Frieze 2016 to the canine protagonist of Godard’s Goodbye to Language, the moniker of artist Puppies Puppies to the meme-ified Brazilian dancing dog, whose eyes, to me, express an implacable anxiety that he’s not doing the human dance quite right. Gucci’s editorial interpretation of the mascot of the moment, shot by Petra Collins, features corgis, Saint Bernards, Afghan Hounds, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, who cock their heads at the camera, bathed in a romantic rose-tinted glow. They appear solo and in the arms of models, wreathed in flowers and surrounded by dog-emblazoned sneakers, bags, and wallets. On the Gucci app, you can interact with CGI facsimiles of Michele’s Boston Terriers, Orso and Bosco. You make faces, and they make faces back. They’re delighted to see you. Who's a good boy?

Photograph by Petra Collins.
Photograph by Petra Collins.
Photograph by Petra Collins.
Photograph by Petra Collins.
Photograph by Petra Collins.
Photograph by Petra Collins.
Photograph by Petra Collins.