Venice is an obvious place to launch an initiative dedicated to dreamers. To spend any amount of time in the floating city is to sense the magical impossibility of it all. A tour of the island feels like a waking dream: The topography of endless canals, narrow streets, and stepped footbridges; the breathtaking, atmospheric light; the ornate architecture with its centuries of patina; the gondoliers rowing their graceful boats; the Italian clichés around every corner.
Venice is also where the dream of Golden Goose began in 2000. And ever since—but more so recently—the brand famous for Made-in-Italy sneakers that boast a stylistic, hand-crafted contrast of pre-distressed and flashy surface treatments has made dreaming its raison d’être. You can find some version of “Follow your dreams;” “Never stop dreaming;” “A unique dream;” or “Dream until it’s your reality” printed and scrawled across its wares.
If this motivational messaging has become ubiquitous, Golden Goose now wants the world to experience how dreams come to life. So as the sun descended behind the buildings along the Grand Canal, some 70 editors and influencers gathered on Monday night for the kickoff of HAUS of Dreamers. The generous and whimsical event centered around five diverse talents—Dr. Woo, Fabio Novembre, Quannah Chasinghorse, Suki Waterhouse, and SUNMI—who shared a personal performance or installation inspired by Venice.
“I didn’t want just another artist; I was looking for dreamers. This dimension of dreaming brings everything to the next level,” said Silvio Campara, the brand’s CEO, who gives off exuberant energy and looks as though he spends more time on a surfboard than in a boardroom. “The nice thing about dreams, everything comes from a dimension that is completely intimate and inside of you—and then there’s life and the people you connect with and make this dream a reality.”
HAUS of Dreamers will exist as an ongoing series within the broader framework of HAUS, which Golden Goose has described as a worldwide, multi-cultural platform and incubator of creativity that will eventually take shape as a sprawling physical space in the industrial area of Marghera on the mainland (as close as Brooklyn to Manhattan). This phase won’t be ready before sometime in 2024, but at 20,000 square meters comprising a school for craftmanship, an archive, a library, and an auditorium, it’s poised to become a thriving center of artistic output and exchange.
In the meantime, these first five dreamers were tasked with channeling the brand through their unique (Golden Goose prefers “you-nique”) perspective. And perspective was the actual conceit of Novembre’s intervention, which marked the beginning of the evening’s program. To the thump of a heartbeat within the Pescheria-covered market, we passed through the Milan-based architect’s arched, immersive optical illusion, his interpretation of Venice as a “living city.”
Exiting this deep blue tunnel within steps of the water, we were instructed to board a cluster of group-sized gondolas and were subsequently steered towards the magnificent Rialto Bridge, among the city’s top tourist sites. There, Quannah ChasingHorse, a Native American land protector and model who just walked the Chanel Resort show, appeared from the uppermost point within a large, gilded frame, evoking a living portrait. As boats glided passed—call it rush hour on the water—we listened through headphones to her read a moving poem first written when she was in sixth grade and updated for this occasion. “From the ceremonial potlaches and the legends our elders tell with a lesson to be learned, to sitting in glam chairs and posing for cameras….” Standing along a dock off to the side was her mother, Jody Potts-Joseph, who beamed the smile of a proud mama. Later, she would tell me that when they were living in Mongolia, the only TV that her daughter watched was a non-stop fashion channel.
The installations from Dr. Woo and Waterhouse took place back on land at The Venice Venice Hotel, a moody, discreet, and design-forward ambiance conceived by Alessandro Gallo and Francesca Rinaldo, otherwise known as the husband-wife founders of Golden Goose. Famous for his tattoo art, Brian Woo looked to Venice’s elaborate tapestries and brocades, drawing from the iconographies of lions and angels to create a harmonious, vaguely cosmic illustration that was printed on draperies and porcelain plates. “I believe plates bring people together, [encouraging] us to enjoy each other’s company and inspiring us to be better,” he said. A variation was also embroidered on Campara’s custom ensemble. Waterhouse approached her project with the spirit of giving. Shooting Polaroids of the city ahead of the event and of guests through the night, she then encouraged us to take one before leaving. Before the event, she said she was last in Venice seven years ago for the Film Festival. Her film, The Bad Batch, won the Special Jury Prize.
And when K-Pop star SUNMI closed the evening with a performance that attracted her superfans peering through a narrow passageway, she chose her solo song, “Borderline”—its lyrics obliquely referring to her borderline personality disorder and harnessing her inner strength. “It’s very special to have people from such different cultures backgrounds united for one purpose under the [idea] of dreamers.”
While there will be a staggered roll-out of products imagined by each talent (the plates from Dr. Woo, shoes from ChasingHorse…), Campara insisted this is not the focus. Last week, he told the Business of Fashion that “culture is the new luxury”—that brands operating at the highest level today must think beyond fashion shows. He confirmed that the event coincided with the Architecture Biennale was entirely on purpose, as if acknowledging his Venetian brand intends to achieve broader cultural legitimacy beyond the industry.
Woo and ChasingHorse underscored how they appreciated the emphasis on authenticity from all sides. “If we stay honest and do it with integrity to who these artists are, and we show that and respect the culture, this feeds into the luxury side of making whatever you’re wearing. When these luxury brands are willing to invest the time, people will invest back in them,” said Woo.
ChasingHorse explained that beyond developing the shoe according to her sustainable objectives, and beyond supporting her communities through a charitable component, Golden Goose is the first collaborator to film her at home in Alaska. “This is the biggest project where I’ve been able to make this much happen; they’re so on board with what I do and what I want.”
One doesn’t usually leave a party via boat, yet there we were, heading back to the hotel in a water taxi, the intoxicating scent of jasmine wafting above the typical briny air. And as the lights along the canal glimmered like the glitter adorning the sneakers, I remembered asking Campara what happens once dreams are fulfilled. “I always say let it flow. The dream is not coming only from you; it’s coming from the interactions of you and the people surrounding you.”
Perhaps this explains how Waterhouse—one can’t help noticing how well-suited her name is in this context—ended up so moved by this opportunity. “Being able to see the heart in all of these people coming together and making this happen is bigger than just going to an event. It’s much more seismic than that. It gives me hope and enthuses me to dream bigger, seeing what their dreams are. I know I’ll walk away very enriched by these days, and very inspired.”