The Making of Christopher Smith’s Surreal Gucci Project for Another Man

For the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of the Another Man, shapeshifting artist Christopher Smith visualised eight mythical characters – here, he shares the stories behind them

Alessandro Michele, the outlandishly inventive creative director of Gucci, was so inspired by allegorical geography that he used the 1654 La Carte de Tendre as the print for one of his Spring/Summer 2016 gowns. The first ‘Map of Love’, this artwork features a beautiful imaginary country filled with locations like The Lake of Indifference and River of Inclination, and towns called Sensibility, Honesty and Respect. Another Man felt it was time to revisit and reimagine the ancient art of mapping matters of the heart. The Spring/Summer 2019 issue features a gallery of portraits taken by and starring shapeshifting artist Christopher Smith. Dressed in outfits from Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection, Smith visualises himself as characters inhabiting one of these mythical regions. Here, he shares the stories behind these creations.

Tree of Life in the Forest of Knowledge

“When I decided to do an image as a tree, I was stuck on how to represent it. A tree is too complex to represent with cut-outs and too large to accurately represent with a fake plant. I spotted these two mini barren trees with white branches in a shop (I think people display them in their homes or at parties) and they ended up being perfect for the image.”

The Sun at the Centre of All Life

“For an image of the sun, I imagined a sort of silent era pin-up holding up the sun. I like the graphic quality of the image. To me, the gold of the dress looks like liquid gold dripping down from the sun and enveloping her body.”

Water in the Channel of Sorrow

“For an image of the ocean, I imagined a very sad sort of sea goddess. I like that the dress almost looks like cascading water. I struggled with how to convey sadness without doing an exaggerated crying face. Body language wasn’t enough on its own so I drew on a single tear which did the trick.”

The Moon of Divine Fertility

“As soon as I saw this dress and its tiara, I thought it would be perfect to do for the moon. I imagined a sort of sad theatrical character with a round moon face looking longingly at the night sky. This was another image that came out as I imagined it.”

Stars, Guides in the Night Sky

“The most difficult part of this image was cutting out all the stars and sticking them on the black backdrop, I wasn’t sure how many would actually show, so I did quite a lot more than was necessary. I was actually wearing my slippers while doing this one. My mother calls this image ‘Olive’ because the girl reminds her of the character from Popeye.”

The Underworld on the Isle of Death

“I think skeletons are the ultimate symbols of death and I imagined the bones as a ceremonial frame around the girl. I tried to find the strongest double sided tape I could so the bones (especially the skulls) would stay up for the duration of the shoot. Of course, as I began shooting, some of the bones began falling off the wall and I had to keep stopping to put them back up. In the final image you can see that the skull on the bottom right is about to fall down!”

Roses in the Garden of Peace

“For this image, I imagined a sleeping boy lying outside in a wild rose garden. I bought a lot of roses and vines that I taped up on my bedroom wall and I’m actually lying on a wooden side table that I put pillows on and covered with blue velvet to create the illusion of a bed. It was actually very hard and uncomfortable to rest on!”