Iconic Bags Countdown #49: Luella Gisele
Luella is a brand name that's already starting to bring back wistful memories, only a year after its creator was forced to shut up shop on what seemed at the time to be an unstoppable fashion powerhouse. Luella Bartley's eponymous label launched in 1999 and went from strength to strength, gaining a reputation as an unmistakably quirky, British brand as well as a cult following among celebs.
Handbag History: Luella's most famous bag The Gisele was, of course, originally designed for another much-loved British brand: Mulberry, back in 2002. While it's hard to believe it now, Mulberry wasn't doing so well at the time, and a degree of its subsequent success can be attributed to the youthful vibrancy that the hugely popular 'Luella for Mulberry' line injected into the brand. It was also accessories, and this style in particular that launched Luella's own career into orbit as the bag's success led to the investment she needed to develop Luella as a global brand.
The bag was named after the Brazilian actress and model Gisele Bundchen.
In Our View: The Gisele emerged at a time when fashion was starting to re-discover its curves and get a bit more girly. We were sick of the straight lines of the 90s, and wanted a bit of fuss, a few not-strictly-necessary straps and cute embellishments. Yet at its heart the Gisele was a real classic, with a tried-and-tested pedigree form Mulberry. The bag looked good in bright, cheerful colours, building on our collective rediscovery of our 'feminine side'.
In addition to all that softness, the Gisele has a slight punk leaning thanks to all its eyelets and hardware, a look that's still hugely popular almost 10 years on. This harked back to Luella's own wild-child days and earlier womensewear collections, perhaps reminded young fashionistas of that other well-known edgy British brand, Vivienne Westwood.
Celebrity Fans of the Luella Gisele have included Kate Moss, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Osbourne, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Alexa Chung, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley and many, many more. Here at Bag Lady HQ it was a favourite brand for a time, and our writers had fun snapping up Luella bargains at one particularly memorable sample sale that seemed to have every last member of the fashion press in attendance! As a former journalist and editor at Vogue, Luella certainly had a loyal media following.
Get The Look: Luella's label may be no more, but there are still plenty of Giseles out there for the taking. eBay still has a steady supply, and prices range from about £250 upwards. It's worth keeping an eye on all your favourite second-hand fashion outlets for more pre-loved items.