As Ridley Scott’s big-screen drama hits cinemas this weekend, Katie Byrne looks at how Irish people – and our top celebrities – consistently turn to the Italian brand
The highly anticipated House Of Gucci finally arrives in cinemas across Ireland tomorrow.
Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Lady Gaga, the film charts the turbulent marriage of fashion heir Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) to Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), who was later convicted of hiring a hitman to murder her then-ex-husband.
The big-screen retelling of the story is billed as a tale of sex, power and revenge. But ultimately, this is a movie about fashion, in all its decadent, opulent, Gucciness glory.
Set photos released earlier this year piqued the interest of Gucci fans. Scott was given access to the Italian fashion house’s archives for wardrobe and props, and the unashamedly OTT outfits don’t disappoint.
Spanning the 70s, 80s and 90s, the aesthetic shifts from silk pussy-bow blouses to power shoulders to sleek pencil skirts.
There’s lashings of gold jewellery, leather horsebit loafers and that signature bamboo-handle handbag. There’s even a 70s wedding dress (with long sleeves, sweetheart-neckline and a preposterously long cathedral veil).
House Of Gucci homes in on the tenure of Maurizio Gucci, who was the last scion of the family dynasty to run the fashion house before he sold his stake in 1993.
Today, with Creative Director Alessandro Michele at the helm, the brand has a daring new vision, much younger customers and global appeal.
Gucci is currently the world’s most popular fashion brand, according to the Lyst Index, a search platform that ranks brands based on online engagement statistics. The brand is also dominating the second-hand market, according to The RealReal’s 2021 Luxury Resale Report.
The reinvention of the brand has created a buzz and here in Ireland, sales are soaring.
“Gucci has always been a hugely popular brand in Brown Thomas, but has exploded since Alessandro Michele took to the helm as creative director and totally modernised the brand,” says Brown Thomas Fashion Director Shelly Corkery.
Brown Thomas Dublin recently opened a larger Gucci boutique, housing accessories and shoes which, says Corkery, “is a testament to the brand’s loyal following here in Ireland”.
It’s much the same in Weir & Sons. The Irish family-run jewellers has been a stockist of Gucci watches and jewellery for a number of years, and a spokesperson confirms that it is one of their “most successful” brands.
Gucci’s new vision has helped to boost sales in Ireland — profits at Gucci Ireland increased by 22pc in 2019 — but our enduring love affair with the luxury Italian brand has been driven by the power of celebrity too.
Actress Saoirse Ronan wore a dramatic, peplum-frill Gucci gown to the 2020 Oscars. Activist Sinéad Burke wore custom-made Gucci when she became the first little person to attend the Met Gala in 2019. Elsewhere, nearly every Irish fashion influencer has a double G buckle belt in her wardrobe.
Irish men love Gucci too. Actor Michael Fassbender wears the fashion house’s tailored suits on the red carpet.
Singer Niall Horan cuts a dash in the brand’s famous horsebit loafers. Conor McGregor described himself as the “Gucci mink pink” — and enraged animal rights groups — when he revealed he had spent $135,000 on two “iconic” vintage Gucci mink coats.
Irish people are heavily influenced by the Gucci aesthetic, but some would argue that Gucci is influenced by Ireland too.
When the brand released a pair of white nylon swim shirts as part of its Cruise 2020 collection, social media commentators were quick to draw comparisons with the O’Neill’s GAA shorts Paul Mescal had been photographed wearing a few months previously.
The Irish GAA brand weighed in too, tweeting Gucci with a few words of smug self-appraisal: “Only 102 years ahead of ye lads, we’ve been keeping Ireland stylish since 1918.”
Other celebrities have been dipping into the Gucci archives and rediscovering pieces from previous decades. Rihanna was recently photographed wearing a blue velvet shirt from the brand’s fall/winter 1997 runway collection. Singer Addison Rae wore a vintage Tom Ford for Gucci gown to the 2021 Met Gala.
It caused a stir on the red carpet, but it was a sobering moment for Irish model Yvonne Connolly, who wore the dress when it was first released in 2003. “I feel old!” she told her Instagram followers.
On the plus side, she can at least view the dress as an investment purchase, notes Ella De Guzman of Irish designer resale business Siopaella.
De Guzman buys and sells luxury fashion and has noticed that vintage Gucci pieces from the 80s and 90s have had a resurgence in the last 12 months.
“Bags that we couldn’t even give away for free 10 years ago are now selling for three times the value,” she says. “But the new Gucci styles that have been influenced by the archives, with the classic monogram canvas, are trading the fastest for us.”
The business model behind Gucci’s reinvention has become something of a masterclass for industry analysts. The brand has connected with a younger market, while maintaining its older customer base — just look at their recent ‘Beloved’ ad campaign, which features both Harry Styles and Diane Keaton.
They’ve embraced diversity beyond a tick-box exercise and engaged with underground talent (instead of sending a cease-and-desist letter to artist Trevor Andrew, who was referencing Gucci branding in his artwork without permission, they invited him to collaborate on a fashion show).
Meanwhile, they’ve kept their prices in the sweet spot. Sure, they know how to charge, but unlike other luxury brands, their prices aren’t stratospherically, prohibitively expensive.
Gucci was a small leather goods company when it was founded in Florence 100 years ago. Today, it’s worn by minimalists, maximalists, cool kids, heritage fashion lovers and apparently even the young Dublin criminals nicknamed ‘The Gucci Gang’.
They say you can’t appeal to everyone, but the Italian fashion house seems to have found a way to do just that.
Jordaan Horsebit Loafers
First designed in 1953, and inspired by the equestrian lifestyle enjoyed by the late Aldo Gucci, the signature horsebit loafer is an enduring classic (€595, Brown Thomas).
Heron print wallpaper
That soft pink, chinoiserie-inspired wallpaper you’ve seen all over your Instagram feed is one of the brand’s bestselling homeware products (€410,
GG 18k yellow gold necklace
Gucci’s fine jewellery collection has always been popular, but scenes of Lady Gaga dripping in gold in House Of Gucci will probably make it even more so (€1,850, weirandsons.ie).
GG Marmont Matelassé mini bag
Beloved by celebrities, and a hot-ticket item on the resale market, the ‘Marmont’ is a long-standing Gucci ‘It’ bag
The North Face x Gucci padded jacket
Gucci collaborated with the outdoor clothing brand last year and, according to the Lyst Index, the padded jacket is the most popular fashion item of 2021 (approx. €3,000, gucci.com).