The debut of Gucci’s home collection, notes Odessa Paloma Parker, signals a growing desire to fully embrace a designer label’s look
As clothing labels clamour to create customer loyalty, a new batch of brands are crossing over into home decor. Odessa Paloma Parker looks at the designer names venturing beyond the closet to take over the rest of your living space
When Gucci announced it would launch a home decor line this fall under the watch of its prized creative director, Alessandro Michele, the fashion world was elated. Michele’s over-the-top sensibility and desire to “Gucci-fy” the world with a mix of fantastical motifs continues to shake up an industry that’s been fixated on understated concepts like atheleisure for the better part of two decades. Gucci’s audience can be defined more as devotees than customers, for embracing Michele’s masterful melange however they can.
Many designers, from Armani to Versace, endeavour to achieve this total aesthetic commitment from clients by branching out into housewares so that shoppers feel like they are truly living the label’s ethos and not just wearing it. “I think people are becoming more and more obsessed with the home,” says J.J. Martin, editor-at-large of Wallpaper* magazine, and founder of the Milan-based lifestyle brand La Double J. Martin’s company sells previously-loved clothing and accessories alongside a new line of pieces crafted with archival prints; housewares are made in partnership with the likes of Italian ceramics brand Bitossi Home and textile producer Mascioni. “Personally, I prefer to stay home and have dinner parties rather than eat out at a restaurant,” says Martin. “I love to decorate my home and take care of the table, too...It’s a wonderful way to share your experiences with people, rather than just buy a pair of shoes for yourself. I think it’s reflecting an overall shift and change in the mindset of most people who like to nest.”
Martin, who launched the La Double J site in 2015, recognizes that not everyone favours the boisterous look she prefers. Which is why, to her, home decor makes sense as an extension of the brand. “[T]he Double J woman isn’t necessarily as crazy for print and mixing patterns as I am,” she says. “She might just like an occasional pop of colour or print. The thing that unites us all is our love for something original, special and that is easy to wear. The table top works in the same way: You can be crazy like me and layer many different patterns on the table, but someone more minimal could add a fun touch with just a printed napkin and their own white plates.”
With its similarly maximalist slant, Gucci Decor defines its offerings as “an eclectic collection of items with which customers can dress their own spaces”; pieces range from quirky tea pots to surreal dinner services that would look at home at a Salvador Dali-hosted soiree. While some might see a decor line as an entry-point into a brand in the same way cosmetics and fragrances are, the prices of items from Gucci’s new line rival the clothing offered at its boutiques.
The relationship between fashion and decor goes both ways. Brands like The Rug Company (TRC) have come to capitalize on the blending of both markets. The London-based enterprise will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year with new collaborations featuring fashion heavyweights like Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
Christopher Sharp, co-founder of TRC, explains that when he first launched a line of rugs designed by folks in the fashion space, it was still very much a novel concept. “Our idea was to create beautiful handmade designs that were fresh and exciting, and we thought that working with a designer could bring something entirely new and unexpected to our collections,” he says. “Our first standalone collection with a collaborating designer was with the fashion [brand] Marni. The designs were unlike anything we’d seen before – beautiful, colourful prints that we knew instantly would bring an entirely new aesthetical value to handmade rugs.”
The Rug Company’s current seasonal offering also boasts collaborations with designers Thom Browne and Elie Saab, whose aesthetics could not be more different. As Sharp, notes, that’s the beauty of its fashion-minded decor line the potential is as limitless for the home as it can be for the body. “All the designers we work with offer a different perspective which is equally valuable,” he says.
HOUSE COUTURE Recent fashion-designer forays into the housewares space include (clockwise from above) tableware from La Double J in collaboration with Bitossi Home; Gucci Decor’s embroidered Chiavari chair; and The Rug Company’s Chiaroscuro print by Alexander McQueen.