Gucci's famous loafers were recently the subject of a substantial article in the Financial Times. What more evidence does one need that these shoes have achieved iconic status than a profile in an international broadsheet? In the story, Gucci's creative director Ms Frida Giannini said that she "plays with the design each season, updating the shape, materials and details, but the shoe's essential beauty and functionality remain the same". No wonder the world's most discerning gentlemen, from politicians to film directors, have been wearing them for half a century, and that, in 1962, these famous shoes became part of the collection at the Costume Institute at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Combining the comfort of a moccasin with a natty formality, Gucci loafers have long been the footwear of choice for that group of international travellers once known as the "jet set". The shoes are synonymous with Hollywood's biggest names as well as Europe's more suave males, while remaining notably popular with high-flying Japanese businessmen, who are said to find them convenient in a culture where you have to take your shoes off every time you enter a room.
The horsebit detail on these handsome loafers is a reminder of a key element in Gucci's history. The equestrian-derived hardware was originally inspired by the time, just after WWI, that Mr Guccio Gucci worked in London's famous Savoy hotel. There, he was privy to the comings and goings of the English aristocracy, and overheard their conversations about racing and polo.
Mr Gucci came to understand how much the world of horses meant to this privileged group of men and women, and made a mental note to make equestrian imagery a feature of the brand he wanted to set up. When in 1921, back in his native Florence, he founded Gucci, he immediately started to use elements taken from tack as motifs and decoration - something the brand continues to do 90 years later.
From its inception, Gucci has balanced glamour with a level of quality that's reliant on artisanal production techniques. Meanwhile, at an aesthetic level, Ms Giannini has an unerring ability to update the best of Gucci's heritage in a manner that makes it entirely contemporary, yet pleasingly classic. As a result, these famous loafers are likely to continue to define a certain strand of masculine style for many years to come.