By: Mary-Bennett Sigal
With twenty minutes to spare, SMU senior Ellie Wells pulls together her outfit before heading out the door for a day of classes. She shuffles through the closet of her spacious, sun-lit room on the top floor of the Kappa sorority house. After a few changes, Wells lands on a pair of distressed denim shorts and a slightly over-sized white pull-over sweatshirt. She ties a silk Gucci twill scarf into a bow around her pony-tail, and slips her feet into a pair of baby pink Gucci loafer slides.
Wells said she had trouble deciding between the classic black Gucci loafer or pushing the envelope with the pink slides. She said she’s happy she chose a color that made her pair stand out. When a friend asked her if she would be mad if she bought the same ones, Wells thought nothing of it.
“Everyone needs a little pink Gucci in their lives,” she said with a smile.
Gucci is for everyone these days. And let it be known, this is not the Gucci of your grandmother. The 97-year-old luxe brand has a fresh, sometimes even edgy, new look that even millennials can love.
Vivid color combinations and juxtaposed print is the name of Gucci’s new game. Embroidered tigers, snakes, and bumble-bees grace the backs of bomber jackets and the tops of loafers. Intricately painted and beaded flower designs instill vivacity into the everyday handbag. And the mastermind behind the fresh styles? Look no further than Gucci’s newest creative director, Alessandro Michele, appointed in 2015 to shake up the brand.
“Michele’s appointment has greatly benefitted Gucci,” said Dr. Elif Kavakci, creative director of Kavakci Couture and a Fashion Media professor at SMU. “Usually a luxury brand such as this is preferred by mature customers, but their modern aesthetic now reaches a much larger market of younger people as well.”
Gucci has been a staple in the history of esteemed designer labels for nearly a century, famous for its double G logo and classic canvas logo print. The company’s iconic black loafer will likely never be outdated. But today’s brightly colored loafers in pink, as well as those accented with fur and embroidery, have a fresh look that appeals to the younger buyer. These new looks are what’s driving the market behind the Gucci-craze.
Alegra Volpe, Co Editor-In-Chief of SMUStyle and an SMU senior, has always admired the history of Gucci’s work, but recognizes the enormously successful impact Michele has made.
“It’s so much more captivating and contemporary than it was in years past,” Volpe said. “However, I appreciate how he still uses Gucci’s archetypal elements in most all of his designs. It creates a wonderful juxtaposition between past and present.”
Cory Potter is the Gucci store manager in Aspen, one of the brand’s most prominent locations. It’s a hot-spot for fashion-forward celebrities and vacationers who visit the Colorado resort town. Potter said he’s seen “astonishing” growth over the years, watching the brand’s popularity increase, as well as the diversity of customers who visit the store.
“Just last week I had a lady on the phone buying her first pair of Gucci shoes at the age of 75,” said Potter. “She said she has been watching her grandchildren wear them for a year and now it was her turn.”
The Gucci leather loafer slide, their most sought-after style, costs $695, and the price rises with the addition of fur lining or an embroidered design. A Gucci purse can range from $980 to $4,500.
Julia Deutsch, an SMU senior, says she loves the brand but is skeptical about the high prices.
“I love the new look but it’s just so expensive,” she said. “My heart tells me go for it, but my mind says it doesn’t make sense to spend $900 on a fanny pack.”
Michele has been described as romantic, optimistic, chaotic, and individualistic, credited with making the brand more relevant and progressive. His gender-blending Fall Winter 2018/2019 fashion show featured a model adorned in an intricate crystal body piece layered with a cotton candy pink and sea green velvet dress, lace tights, sneakers, and a ski mask. Most of the models who walked in the show were androgynous. Some even took down the runway holding sculpted replicas of their own heads.
“He’s not trying to take over the fashion industry,” Potter said, “he’s just being himself.”