As Gucci Zumi Launches, We Look At The Evolution of Bag-Inspiring Muses
She’s not your typical bag-inspiring muse. But then again, nothing (and no one) Alessandro Michele creatively touches is typical. Her pointy fringe and shaggy do frame an angular face with high-to-the-sky cheekbones, making Zumi Rosow look like the perfect Gucci model. Of course, she’s not only a model but also a jewellery designer and a musician with appearances in obscure indie films. She’s the epitome of Los Angeles today, dipping her toes into everything she’s interested in. That’s why Rosow also seems like exactly the type of person Michele would want to have as the face of the first celebrity bag to come out of his tenure as the Creative Director at Gucci. A boxy, briefcase-like silhouette with a short top handle, and shiny hardware merging Gucci’s classic horse bit with interlocking Gs. Something old something new, and all very Gucci, the new Gucci Zumi bag was first worn by Rosow as part of the the brand’s SS19 show in Paris.
Previously, the Italian fashion house renamed its 1950s bag from Constance to Jackie, paying homage to its most chicest wearer, the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. After a short stint of the bag being named to the Bouvier as a nod to Jackie’s maiden name, the hobo bag with a horse bit buckle was finally reinstated as the Jackie when Michele took the reigns. The two bags, Gucci Zumi and Jackie, are visually as different as their inspirations, each taking similar elements and crafting them so they symbolise two opposites on the spectrum of the brand’s visual language. With 60 years between the launches of the two, the trajectory of bags named after designer’s muses seems to have gone a long way. From first ladies to cool girls, this is your ultimate guide to bag-inspiring muses.
Around the same time as Jackie O did her style rounds in America, Grace Kelly was embracing the life of a Princess of Monaco. The Hollywood actress turned real-life royalty represented a fairy tale any American girl could dream of. And if they couldn’t become actual princesses, they could perhaps wear a bag with her name. Kelly’s eternal elegance earned her the honour of having one of the most covetable pieces of contemporary luxury named after her – the classic mid-century lady bag we now know as the Hermès Kelly Bag. Its single handle and a large trapezoid shape made the perfect shield of one’s pregnancy bump, as demonstrated in 1957 by Princess Kelly. Obviously, we can’t talk about Hermès without mentioning the Birkin, arguably the most copied bag in the world, famously designed in 1984 by Jean-Louis Dumas after meeting the British actress on a flight. Jane Birkin might have had quite a rocky relationship with the bag with some attempts at taking her name away from the bag due to the brand’s use of precious skins, but the Birkin remains as the pinnacle of the luxury world that surpasses trends or fashion.
On the other hand (or rather in the other hand), you’ve got muses that symbolised certain times in fashion. Alexa Chung-inspired Mulberry Alexa was exactly what every teen girl and gay boy dreamed of owning in the late noughties. The model and TV presenter (now fully fledged fashion designer) paraded down what seemed like every corner of NYC and London trotting the floppy messenger bag, making appearances on street style blogs all over the Worlwide Web. As Chung got snapped by photographers, Bryanboy was snapping himself. The Filipino fashion blogger and a good friend of Ten Towers was a notorious figure at fashion weeks, making so much visual noise even Marc Jacobs decided to name a bag from his AW08 collection after him. The BB (as the bag was called) was a move that made people realise it wasn’t just about Hollywood women. Fashion has entered the digital era where men wore bags and bloggers had power. SCANDALOUS! Jacobs was experienced in the bag name game though, also using model Jessica Stam as well as his BFF Sofia Coppola as the inspos for his purses, both at his own house and at Louis Vuitton.
The search of every fashion house for the next IT bag everyone will want to carry around is a never-ending one. It’s ruthless too, as hundreds of designs compete each season to become “the one”. Despite its iconic success, the Mulberry Alexa was discontinued in 2016 – “the end of an era,” blogs declared. And in some way it was, proving exactly how some bags are made to be temporary while others are created to last. Just like with music, some age better than others. Whether Zumi will join Alexa or Kelly, it’s difficult to know. Unfortunately, we don’t have the magical fashion globe (yet). But what we can see is that the Gucci Zumi carries a sense of classic timelessness. Its transforming nature allows the bag to turn from a handheld purse to a cross-body bag and then to a handbag, each different print or leather bringing a totally fresh take on the shape. Will we want to carry it in 60 years? Who knows. But we do very much want to have it on us now.
The Gucci Zumi bag is available to shop online and in selected stores.