This story is part of Image issue 18, “Mission,” an anthology of fantastic voyages — from L.A. to the world and back to the epicenter. Read the whole issue here.
The staycation is about going somewhere without really going anywhere. It’s an invention designed for you to “get away from it all” while remaining in the city you live in. You don’t have to spend hours crammed into a plane or drinking coffee to stay up during a long drive. Staycations let you be a guest in your own home, so to speak. The main thing: The staycation is about switching it up.
In Los Angeles, we are uniquely blessed with the endless possibilities of the staycation. L.A. is full of topographical and cultural diversity. No one neighborhood is laid out the same way. A weekend downtown is hardly similar to a jaunt through, say, Beverly Hills or West Adams. Sure, we have the same stultifying homogeneity of other major cities. There’s a Starbucks, a Citibank, a Sweetgreen and a Hilton pretty much everywhere. And yet, the finer details reveal a more expansive ecosystem to explore.
Angelenos are often in a constant state of going. The sheer size of the metropolitan area means that one might think of themselves as an urban explorer, discovering neighborhoods you didn’t even know existed. Have you been to Panorama City lately? I haven’t. It would take me an hour to get there from where I live in Fox Hills if I left instead of writing the rest of this piece. I’m sure it’s a lovely place, though. But what if I did need to go to Panorama City? Maybe I had a job up there. Perhaps there’s a great new restaurant I want to try. Worse yet, what if I was dating someone in Panorama City?
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I’m not. I’m dating someone in Silver Lake, which is almost as bad, timewise, and significantly worse parking. I am in the classic east-west, L.A. long-distance relationship. Travel, then, is crucial to maintaining my life as it is now. Some would just throw some old rags in a gym bag and call it a day. I, on the other hand, feel compelled to have some manner of organization. I have a garment bag, suitcases, and other items depending on how long I’m going to be staying over. Once I leave the Westside, I can’t simply go back for a wardrobe change.
When I take a staycation on the Eastside, I’m sure to bring a second outfit for the evening, my computer, a dopp kit full of my toiletries and a jacket in case it gets colder. I feel like a sherpa, lugging all my worldly possessions up a steep, snowy mountain. Except… I’m in a car with air conditioning and 500 channels of satellite radio. So, nothing like that sherpa thing at all, I guess. But I must bring it all or risk blowing it. Why not make that schlep feel luxurious with a bit of flair?
Gucci luggage is the unofficial luggage of the staycation. The essential transport for those who, in a small way, like to do as the jet-setting models of a Gucci campaign — haul their things to and fro in style. The Gucci brand made billions turning the movement of everyday life into something to be coveted, to be gilded and to be glamorized. A walk in the park. A trip to Trader Joe’s. A visit to the DMV. All elevated by Gucci.
OK, maybe leave the bag at home if you’re going to the DMV. No need to flaunt it.
Never mind wearing them at home. Whatever stereotypes you once clung to don’t make much sense the moment you put on a pair.
The finest example of Gucci’s mastery over travel is the Savoy duffle bag. It has a plethora of small nostalgic touches that capture the history of the house. The interlocking G’s and the red-and-green racing stripe on the front recalls 1970s louche style. The canvas across the body of the bag is a Gucci staple that’s been repurposed for hats, shoes, belts and even fine tailoring. Carrying a Savoy around town makes one feel as though they’re stepping off the tarmac in Rome, when anything is possible, and nothing is familiar. This is the unique promise of Gucci luggage. It transforms the humdrum into history in the making. That’s been part of Gucci’s pact with its customers for generations, no matter who is in charge.
By now, the Gucci origin story is akin to the Book of Genesis for fashionable people. But it’s specifically important for fashionable people on the move. Guccio Gucci founded the house in 1921, after a stint working at the Savoy Hotel in London. He set out to design luggage and bags for a new class of customer. As travel became more and more possible with advancements in automobiles, air travel, rail and luxury sea liners, the actively wealthy needed beautiful things to carry their other, more beautiful things.
Gucci history — probably best captured visually in Rizzoli’s 2011 book, “Gucci: The Making Of” — shows that the house will nudge its styles toward the needs of the era. For instance, as tennis became more popular, Gucci dipped into sportswear and tennis accessories. Gucci collaborated with Cadillac in the 1970s, before collabs were a thing, to release a Gucci car. In that “Making Of,” there’s a photo of a Cadillac Seville parked in front of a beautiful villa, with matching luggage off to the side. The luggage in that photo doesn’t look all that different from the luggage on display at the Americana boutique. All the hallmarks of Gucci are there: the red and green web stripe, the Diamonte pattern over the tan canvas and the leather trim. Today, there are modern additions like wheels and pop-out handles (with treated canvas for grip), but they are the same in spirit. And that spirit is what people want to tap into when they do their own traveling — or if they’re like me, urban staycationing in cities like Los Angeles.
But back to the Savoy. It’s a bag that fits plenty of socks, underwear, books and iPhone chargers for the next time I have to go to Silver Lake. I could also use it for longer trips or even as a work bag. As my friend, the actor/writer/director Noah Segan (a.k.a. “Derol the stoner” from “Glass Onion”) said to me recently, Gucci bags are the “one true boardroom-to-boardwalk piece in L.A.” Noah is a collector of Gucci ephemera, the legit and the counterfeit from across numerous eras. The designs of the classic pieces never go out of style and are sturdy enough to actually be used. Sure, you might need to polish some of the metal clasps or bend the handles of the Bamboo bag, but these pieces will last, even if you drag them to the beach on your lunch break.
Gucci is for the adventurer — at least the kind of adventurer I am. The type of Angeleno who thinks it’s still important to stunt on your co-workers with fire every day. Someone who isn’t afraid to date outside of their own zip code. The kind of person who might have to go to Panorama City for a restaurant. There are many kinds of staycationers. And many destinations to switch it up. In L.A., you can be like Matthew Henson, who was part of the first expedition to the North Pole. Except, you found a new Thai place. Also, I assure you he wasn’t carrying a Gucci bag.