The Ease and Grace of Gucci

The brand has remained both an iconic staple and a transcendent luxury

Ahmad Cisse, photographer, fashion designer, stylist and model. Camel-brown New Signoria jacket ($2,800).
Ahmad Cisse, photographer, fashion designer, stylist and model. Camel-brown New Signoria jacket ($2,800).

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Gucci. The love for the interlocked-G’s logo has ebbed and flowed yet remained an iconic luxury, especially in New York. These photos are a celebration of how everyday New Yorkers wear the brand with ease and grace.

Our subjects were street-cast from Brooklyn and Harlem and were fully at home in the neighborhoods they walk in daily. Here among the history of Black homeownership, entrepreneurship and community, Gucci is both transcendent and a staple.

All embraced the idea of marrying their own style with the brand. Each came to our set in their own clothes, ready to don a Gucci piece or two that grabbed their attention from four racks of choices culled by the shoot’s fashion editor, Tori Leung. The back of our van resembled a booster’s haul: three suitcases of shoes, 50 garment bags, three Ikea bags full of accessories — sunglasses, handbags, belts and hats. The models, who all had a strong sense of personal style, each went straight to the item they considered to be “the one.” Every chosen piece fit perfectly; it was just that effortless.

Many mentioned the brand’s problematic and not so distant past, including accusations of poaching and the blackface sweater controversy. We all felt the same: If Harlem couturier Dapper Dan, who was shut down by luxury brands in the past and then partnered with Gucci in 2017, can make conditional peace, so can we.

[As Gucci turns 100, creative director Alessandro Michele is leading the fashion industry toward a different future.]

We found that there is something irresistible to those who respond to the Italian label’s charms: the variations of interlocking G’s, the racing stripes, the clash of red and green, the golden bridle clasps, the lush fabrics. The extravagance that shouts of material wealth and leisure. It is not fast fashion. These luxury items have to be budgeted for and are sometimes spontaneous, rebellious investments. When I asked our models if they would buy the item they were wearing, they all were adamant that if they had the disposable income, they would buy it once and wear it forever.

— Audra Jones Dosunmu, producer and casting director

Janis Wilkins, creative director of multimedia company Artgraphica, photographer, artist and model. Fine rib knit wool turtleneck ($980), tartan check wool pants ($1,400), Princetown leather slipper ($790). Kemi, entrepreneur, founder and designer of KemiStudio5, community activist and educator. Pleated skirt with GG chain ($1,980), GG print socks ($210), mid-heel mid-calf boot in light blue moiré fabric with tone-on-tone crystals ($950). Joi, pharmacy technician, cosmetologist and foreign exchange trader. Mid-heel boot in beige avana python printed leather with horsebit detail ($1,690). Fela Dosunmu (the writer and photographer’s son), entrepreneur, founder of Damu Records, recording artist. GG print flare pant ($980). Richard Clay, musician, director, actor, artist and comedian. Alpaca wool jacquard cardigan ($2,500), leather belt with double-G buckle ($480).

Jah LionKing, entrepreneur and owner of Ital Jah LionKing Juice. GG multicolor jersey sweatshirt ($2,100). Ron Carter, jazz bassist, educator, author, artistic director and a member of the Miles Davis Quintet. GG stitch cotton cardigan ($1,400), GG flat cap ($415). Karoline, actor, writer, filmmaker. Black-ivory twill bowling loose shirt with all-over star print ($950), GG jersey jogging pant with web ($1,550). Miss Maleine, hair artist and braiding expert. Gucci Diana medium tote bag ($3,980). Sophia Hernandez, transgender activist, community builder, model. Rectangular sunglasses with chain ($595), Gucci horsebit 1955 small shoulder bag ($2,980).

Angelica Nicholas, a vegan chef and founder of IrieYank, a vegan company. Cotton bucket hat with Gucci label ($530). Elaine Thompson, baker, gardener, researcher, real estate agent, musician. Tweed single-breasted oversize cardigan jacket ($3,500). Rebecca Hailes, owner and designer of Thread Heads NYC. Gucci Pink Panther silk scarf ($495), mini Balenciaga Hourglass bag in canvas flora ($2,500). Jeeniya Dewan, a student in communication design at New York City College of Technology. GG layered trench coat ($4,200), washed denim flare pant with Gucci label ($950). Oumy Souane, a student in nursing and global public health at New York University. GG Marmont small shoulder bag ($2,450), printed silk scarf ($495), gold sandals ($850).

About this story

All Gucci items available at select Gucci stores or Fashion editor: Tori Leung. Hair and grooming: Stacy Gray for SGrayUnlimited. Makeup: Kaitlan Pantin for SGrayUnlimited.