Fashion Film

In a Documentary About Gucci's New Era, Two Filmmakers Capture the Frenetic Magic of Fashion

Sabato De Sarno keeping a low profile. All images courtesy of MUBI.

“It’s difficult to control the emotions, no?” Sabato De Sarno says from the backseat of a car. The newly minted Gucci creative director is days away from his first runway show, and the deadline is looming. “Maybe I don’t want to control it,” he muses. 

Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost capture this moment—and the glamorous rollercoaster ride that surrounds it—with piquant flare in Who is Sabato De Sarno?: A Gucci Story. The short film, which is available on indie streamer Mubi, follows the five hectic days leading up to the debut of the Gucci Ancora collection last September in Milan.

De Sarno and Mark Ronson.

“We wanted to be in the mix, and Sabato welcomed us into the inner circle,” Joost tells CULTURED. “Some of the most beautiful moments we captured with him were these private moments in between the chaos, riding in his car from the airport or back to his hotel.” 

The minds behind Catfish, the 2010 documentary about a Facebook friendship gone awry, and Margot Robbie’s Vogue parody Australian Psycho understand the allure and fun of the fashion space, even if they are just passing through. “Gucci and Sabato gave us a lot of creative freedom to do our thing,” Schulman says. “They kind of set us loose in their world, and we approached it like the fashion tourists that we are.” Cheeky narration from actor and house ambassador Paul Mescal confers a lighthearted yet self-aware tone. 

De Sarno taking a bow after Gucci Ancora.

Playing into De Sarno’s low pre-show profile, Who is Sabato De Sarno? is framed as a detective tale. “Truthfully, we were not experts on Gucci before we undertook this project,” Schulman admits. “Now we are amateur sleuths.” Ancora—which De Sarno translates to “something that you love and still want to love”—is everything: a color, a song, a passion. “He buries symbols and messages in his designs connected to Gucci's past, which is great for storytelling because there is a mystery to unravel.” Indeed, Ancora isn’t just a show: It marks a new era for the Italian luxury juggernaut.

In 10 minutes—Ancora’s runtime and half of the doc—De Sarno’s life changes, his initial nerves transforming into joyful celebration. The film ends on a now elated De Sarno partying with Mescal in a dark red room. His cover is blown, and for a moment, his cares are in the wind.