Anne Hathaway attends the Bulgari Aeterna High Jewellery and Watches collection unveiling event in Rome, Italy
Courtesy Bulgari
Fashion 21 May 2024 3 MIN

The Devil Wears The Gap

High-street brands are taking over red carpets

Last night, while everyone and their cousin was at Cannes, Anne Hathaway stepped out of the Bulgari Hotel in Rome in a custom deconstructed white poplin shirt-dress for the unveiling of the new Bulgari Aeterna High Jewellery and High-End Watches collection. The dress, however, didn’t come from an Italian fashion house like Valentino or Versace (whose creations the actor often sports), but from American high street label, Gap, custom designed by Gap Inc’s newly-minted creative director, Zac Posen. 

Styled by Erin Walsh, the actor chose to accessorise her just-rolled-out-of-bed look with Bulgari jewels, naturally, being the house ambassador—a brilliant diamond necklace with a sapphire centre stone, a matching ring, a diamond-studded Serpenti bracelet, and diamond earrings. 

This isn’t the American retailer’s first high-profile red carpet rodeo though. Gap Inc, which also owns brands such as Banana Republic and Old Navy, announced Posen’s appointment as its creative director and chief creative officer of Old Navy earlier this year in February. Since his appointment, Posen has worn suits from Banana Republic (which was once the go-to for office-friendly work wear) to the Vanity Fair Oscars Party and to even the Met Gala. He also dressed Oscar-winning actor Da’Vine Joy Randolph in a custom flowing denim Gap gown for the first Monday in May.

Interestingly, Gap is just one of the high-street brands trying to stake its claim to the red carpet. Swedish giant H&M has been dressing celebrities for the Met Gala since 2015, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Vanessa Hudgens being its first muses. This year alone, the fast-fashion brand best known for its trendy, affordable clothing, dressed comedian and actor Awkwafina, Hari Nef, a pregnant Adwoa Aboah, models Paloma Elsesser and Quannah Chasinghorse, and NFL player Stefon Diggs in custom creations in line with the event’s theme. Tommy Hilfiger, another label that’s available in your neighbourhood mall, became the most talked-about brand during the 2024 Met Gala, according to data from Brandwatch. This was thanks to K-pop boyband Stray Things, whose eight members were all decked out in custom Hilfiger suiting. 

While none of these custom outfits are actually available in-store, these events offer opportunities for high-street brands to be seen alongside luxury houses. “It says, ‘Hey look at me, I’m not as flat-footed in fashion as you thought’ and forces [consumers] to take a fresh look at the brand,” Allen Adamson, CEO of marketing consultancy Metaforce, told the Business of Fashion.  

With Posen now at its creative helm, Gap is going beyond limited-edition collaborations to generate buzz and is aiming to build aspiration and desirability among customers with its red-carpet sightings on carefully chosen celebrities. Elsesser’s H&M metal breastplate and flowing silk taffeta bubble skirt may not be up for grabs, but for those looking to recreate Hathaway’s look, the brand will be launching a version of the star’s dress online soon.