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Aug. 11th, 2007 @ 09:53 am Dougray Scott in Gap Ad
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Mind the Gap

All-American Gap is getting a European twist, with edgier, slimmer designs to suit tastes on this side of the Atlantic

Dougray Scott

Dougray Scott

James Collard

We think of Gap as a quintessentially American brand: a hardy perennial export from across the Atlantic, selling upbeat, democratic, wearable clothes such as khakis and chinos, T-shirts and brightly coloured knits, plus cute children’s outfits. But while Gap isn’t about to stop doing the classics that have endeared it to customers worldwide during the 28 years since its inception in San Francisco, the autumn/winter collection in a store near you has a decidedly more European flavour.

Why? Well, because the global giant has decided that its growing market on this side of the Pond merits a dedicated, London-based European design team, to give those old Gap favourites a more fashion-forward twist. Thus that man’s parka has a structured hood to give it an edge that’s more Tokyo than San Fran (although it folds down, if that sounds too edgy for you); women’s khakis come in a jodhpur cut; dresses are in timely pinafore and shirt shapes; some of the jeans get skinnier, while the knitwear – always a strong suit for Gap – is a revelation. Think chunky cardigan coats, jumper dresses in creams and greys, plus fine-gauge knits that have been snapped up by every fashionista who can gain access to a showroom sample, perhaps to cope with the four-seasons-all-in-one-day nature of the British summer.

It’s all, well, very fashiontastic, although the folks at Gap assure us that the brand isn’t aiming to be become a “fast fashion” rival to H&M or Topshop. Yet industry pundits whisper darkly – as they plan how to combine their cardy dress with something pricey from Chloé or YSL – about the involvement of not one but two éminences grises in Gap’s bold new European team.

For menswear, that’s Keith Warren, formerly working for Marc Jacobs at fancy-schmancy Louis Vuitton. (Oh, and for those of us chaps who aren’t built like corn-fed, prairie-raised American jocks, both the new tailoring and the sizing will be more to our liking.) And across both collections, the benign influence of Marie-Amélie Sauvé has been much talked about. Sauvé, you’ll be pleased to hear, is fashion editor at French Vogue and chums with Nicolas Ghesquière of Balenciaga fame. It’s no surprise, then, that the new campaign, shown here, features yet another noted “muse”, Amanda (Lagerfeld’s best mate) Harlech, along with other local beauties like Isabella Rossellini’s daughter Elettra and the craggily handsome Dougray Scott. But the good news is that you don’t need a muse’s spending power to get the gear.