Given the popularisation and interest in high-end fashion in the media,
Amrit Virdi looks at the history of Gucci: specifically how its legacy has
been documented in the modern world, and whether our obsession with
the history behind fashion brands is heading to be too much.
Along with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chanel,
Gucci has become a renowned fashion brand, with its double G symbols
recognisable to anyone. The story behind the classy logo is one which has
captivated the world, and is revealing of the family disputes, money
turmoils, and inner workings of the businesses behind the big fashion
Gucci was founded in Florence in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, hence the
influence behind the symbol. Originally a family-owned and -run business,
the importance of keeping the House of Gucci within the Gucci family was
of upmost importance. The 2021 Ridley Scott-directed film ‘House of
Gucci’ opens with a narration explaining the importance of the Gucci
name. It documents that, until feuds and a lust for money got in the way,
family values were at the forefront of the brand.
Luxury was the key inspiration behind the brand’s conception, as Guccio
Gucci grew up with a fondness for the glamorous suitcases and trunks
which he saw working at London’s Savoy Hotel as a bellboy. Beginning as
a luggage manufacturer and maker of equestrian equipment for the upper
class, the brand grew and grew over the years.
After Guccio Gucci’s death in 1953, his three sons Aldo, Vasco, and
Rodolfo took over the managing of the business, which is when
accessories such as watches and glasses were added to the main
collection. Rodolfo Gucci passed away in 1983, which led to control being
passed to Maurizio Gucci, where the family hold of the business seemingly
ended. Gucci eventually became a publicly listed company in 1995, under
the leadership of Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford in the 90s, and Marco
Bizzarri and Alessandro Michele today.
No members of the Gucci family are currently involved in the business.
The events taking place between 1983 and 1995 are what captivated the
world in being invested the family’s downfall, and are what is documented
in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci.
Money and feuds tore the business apart. The 2021 film focuses on
Maurizio Gucci’s relationship with Patrizia Reggiani. Reggiani, played by
Lady Gaga in the film, met the Gucci boss at a party, as the movie
portrays her as seemingly being a gold-digger, doing everything she could
to get in with the family. Eventually she married the Gucci boss, despite
Rodolfo’s disapproval (he thought Patrizia was a social climber). The film
documents the rise and fall of the brand and the family.
As the brand grew and fakes were appearing in markets across Italy,
which did not seem to bother Maurizio that much, Patrizia is documented
as becoming more and more involved with the business. Countering
Maurizio’s decisions and persuading him to exile other family members
from the company caused tension within the business.
This eventually transferred to affect their marriage, as Maurizio set out for a divorce which was finalised in 1994.
However, their involvement with one another did not stop there. The
couple kept in contact to help raise their daughters Alessandra and
Allegra, yet Patrizia’s infatuation for Maurizio stayed strong and led to a
On March 27 1995, Maurizio Gucci was shot and killed by a hitman hired
by Patrizia, who was sentenced to 29 years in prison in 1998. She was
released in October 2016 for good behaviour after serving 18 years of her
sentence. As before mentioned, Gucci became a publicly-listed company
after the murder, as it was also already struggling financially at the time.
But does our fascination with the stories behind these big brands take
away from the fashion itself?
House of Gucci was well-received due to viewer’s high levels of interest
around the topic, yet the Gucci family had expressed some tension
regarding the release of the film. Patrizia Reggiani herself said that she
had annoyance over Lady Gaga failing to meet with her before accepting
the role. Additionally, cinematographer Dariusz Wolski stated that the
movie is not highly factual, adding to uncertainty around its creation.
Heirs to the Gucci family themselves released a statement when the film
was released, first published by ANSA, saying that ‘’this is extremely
painful from a human point of view and an insult to the legacy on which
the brand is built today’’. Blasting the representation of Patrizia as being a
‘’victim’’ and that Gucci have the right to protect their name following this
movie, the inaccuracy of the story in the film causes discussion as to
whether there is too much focus into the wrong areas of the fashion world.
Gucci itself is a highly successful brand. Proving to be popular to this day
and maintaining relevance amongst a younger audience through
collaborations with brands such as Adidas, I have to say that a nod to this
in the film may have been nice to see. The Gucci craze has been
perpetuated by many a celebrity, including Harry Styles and Jared Leto in
recent years. It is estimated to be worth approximately 18.1 billion U.S.
dollars currently, with Alessandro Michele at the forefront of the operation.
And whilst it is still classed as a luxury brand, according to Instagram
many people seem to have their hands on the iconic Gucci cross body
bag, exhibiting the brand’s popularity
Considering this, it seems feasible to say that digging too much into the
backstory behind brands and not focusing on the fashion itself can lead to
misinformation and tarnished reputations. House of Gucci not going down
extremely smoothly with the Gucci family itself is evidence of the
implications of overdocumentation. Yes, whilst it is important to consider
and understand the history behind a brand, focussing on the fashion itself
that the brand is there to represent is of upmost importance.
You can read more of Amrit’s work via her portfolio, amritvirdi.journoportfolio.com , or by following her Instagram