We’ve come to expect the unexpected from Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele—and by unexpected, we mean models walking the runway with baby dragons in tow, tiger-faced velvet cushions, and extravagant soirees thrown in haunted locales. And such was the case this past November, when he transformed Los Angeles’s legendary Hollywood Forever cemetery into a sprawling bash in honour of the Italian fashion house’s fragrance, Gucci Guilty. The final resting place of Judy Garland, Rudolph Valentino, and Johnny Ramone, to name a few, was given the Michele dusting. Statues were adorned with oversized floral wreaths and crypts served as showcases for perfume bottles, while a larger-than-life pink neon sign broadcasted the tag #ForeverGuilty (the brand’s arty @GucciBeauty Instagram account was later populated with curated snapshots of the night’s festivities).
It was all to herald a new era for the fragrance, which has been reborn under Michele’s influence after almost a decade as a men’s-only scent. Guilty now includes an eau de parfum for women, which is cased inside a slick golden ode to Old Hollywood and fronted by none other than retro goddess Lana Del Rey. The singer’s casting feels like a match made in Gucci heaven—Del Rey’s reimagined American narrative is kindred to the brand’s bold idiosyncratic vision. “When I met Alessandro, he told me that he designed a lot of his ideas and clothes whilst listening to the music, and I just thought the whole thing was a good fit, so I was really excited—it’s a dream,” says the singer.
Del Rey stars alongside frequent Gucci collaborator Jared Leto in the campaign, a kitschy technicolor romp around the City of Angels, lensed by photographer Glen Luchford. Clad in clashing suits, the duo meditate on the grass by star-studded tombstones, visit a grocery store inhabited by zoo animals, and feast at a late-night diner where Courtney Love cameos as a waitress. “When I spoke to Alessandro, he said that he wanted the whole campaign to be about two people who were living life on their own terms,” says Del Rey. “I was thinking of a woman who was really fun, free, and in love,” she says. “Just feeling fabulous wearing the most outrageous outfits and acting like it was nothing.” That woman isn’t far off from the singer herself, whose signature style is showcased here at its exaggerated best here: dripping in rhinestones, with a bedazzled hairclip tucked gently into her Priscilla Presley bouffant. Her elongated, dust-pink talons caress the bottle, accentuating its rose-gold liquid.
The eccentric campaign is evocative of the scent itself, an Oriental floral that feels ultra-feminine, but with just enough spice to embody a hedonistic reprieve from everyday life. Top notes feature mandora, a Mediterranean citrus from Cyprus, which is smoothed out with bergamot and pink pepper. Meanwhile, lilac is contrasted with rosy and violet notes and layered with geranium to create a nuanced blend. Patchouli oils are what give it that hedonist edge—which brings us back to the fragrance’s name: Guilty. The word has taken form in so many headlines lately and has come to mean so many things. As far as Del Rey is concerned, though, Gucci’s take isn’t damning. On the contrary, it’s about “being unapologetically who you are, being really bold and brazen, if that’s who you are, and just being free.”