The Italian fashion concern has become many things to many people, from luxury standard to unhinged experimenter; casualwear radical to name-check choice of the hip hop world. During one hundred years at the top of Italian fashion, quality has always remained an unambiguous certainty. Here we look at some key Gucci looks and how to pull them off with a Florentine flourish, whatever your game.
Since its founding by Guccio Gucci in 1921 as a luggage manufacturer, Gucci has seen and been through it all: cutting a swathe through the leather manufacturing industry, finding success post-war with the opening of the American luxury goods market, surviving a family feud and then adapting its image through a succession of designers including Tom Ford [the sexy years!] to incumbent, Alessandro Michele.
The look has changed too: from playing the inevitable late eighties branding game to the recent focus on Edwardian-oddity via almost oppressive seriousness and marquee nods – the riding strap and horse-bit logo remain synonymous but are given myriad spins depending on the season and designer’s inclinations.
But what is it in the designs that continues to bring the love? And why should Gucci benefit from the association with urban youthfulness when Burberry’s own flirtation with the rough crowd brought the brand [temporarily] to its knees?
Gucci has the advantage of becoming a mainstream must-have in the age of social media, and has gone to great lengths to incorporate elements from its catalogue that signify its marquee status. But at the same time it understands that – in the digital era – nothing should be taken for granted. Inasmuch, despite the usual array of branded products available at a marquee price, Gucci maintains [even flaunts] a ‘geek-chic’ status that keeps it ahead of [even beyond] the curve.
Riding boots, leather satchels, beige and deeper leather-friendly colours are all quintessential to the Gucci image, but for the last few years and for Fall 2021, the era is muddied – somewhere between 1969s post beat intellectualism and a cyberpunk future. Even the models seemed [physically and conceptually] ‘hall-of-mirror’ warped between beauty and a ‘post-beauty’ world.
A problem with this quirky take is that it tends to stand out for reasons that make it conspicuous, without anyone really knowing why. Models who don’t fit conventional standards of beauty, and collections that are free of easy navigation or markers would seem to suit those with fewer obligations, or those who could shop at the charity store instead.
Which is another way of saying you better be on your game when shopping Gucci. A key to wearing the brand [and wearing it well – that’s the key] is to understand its inclination towards motifs such as straps, the horse-bit logo and the red/green colour band. Gucci uses these aspects, not so much as brand markers, but as pattern and colour elements that subvert the obvious and bring to the fore more provocative silhouettes and patterns.
The Silver Cotton dress exemplifies the approach – the linked pattern in gold over silver fabric is subtle enough that you can pretty much decide on any material of jacket to match it with. Accessories work best leaning white [white boots and bag with a white hair band bring out the current Gucci inclination towards transgenderism and Edwardian oddity]. It’s a far cry from the hyper-sexualised glamour of Tom Ford Era Gucci, but try black boots and [as pictured] black riding gloves and bag. Suddenly, the thin strappings across waist and chest create allusions to riding and S&M; a sleeker and more adult direction without completely losing the ‘geek-chic’ appeal. A longer version here from S/S 2020
Alternatively, a turn of colour is the orange silk dress. Drawing towards those rich summer shades that exemplify the label’s revolving imagining of a swinging, cult [of the young and beautiful] seventies love in, the interlocking horse-bit belt and pattern feature adds a degree of complexity that doesn’t require much addition.
If it’s difficult to determine the when and where, then a [legal] shift in perception is on the cards. Riff through a Gucci runway show and you’d be tempted to think their stylist created the colour scheme from a trippy stroll through a wild flower garden.
Or is it just a matter of going against type? Expect at least two bold colours in most upper/lower combinations, and while not all high contrast looks will match the model’s hair or accessories, there is genuinely a subtler co-ordination between third or fourth shades. This all emphasises the oddness, whilst rewarding those with an eye for finer details and a penchant for experimentation.
The Green Silk Dress illustrates the contrast and high definition look to a tee as per the Resort 2021 Collection, whilst also providing another clue to adaptability via a sportier/lifestyle silhouette. Just how Gucci has become a proponent of youthful casual chic is anyone’s guess, although a penchant for Adidas-like stripes [ala the Brown Stripe Dress – unfortunately not at Adidas prices] provides a clue to the future. Games or sports that encourages all bodies to participate, even those bodies that aren’t likely to win. But who cares when you’ve mastered Gucci.