FROM GUCCIO TO GUCCI
In 1921 Florentine-born Guccio Gucci opened a workshop and store in his native city specializing in leather goods. He had previously worked at London’s Savoy Hotel where he had the opportunity to study the tastes and mores of the nobles and upper classes. Having absorbed a distinctly English aesthetic, he introduced this refined style in Italy. His creations immediately stood out for their sophistication and innovation, largely due to the master craftsmanship of his Tuscan artisans.
All Gucci’s products drew inspiration from the equestrian world; horsebit and stirrup motifs, together with the classic green-red-green web, were born of this influence and would become emblems of the Florentine firm.
What resulted was an original and exclusive style that embodied the tastes of a sophisticated, international clientele. Along with the titled families of Tuscany, this clientele also included wealthy tourists. New products sold out almost as soon as they were introduced and quickly turned into icons with cult followings.
During the difficult 1940’s, Gucci truly established itself as an enterprise synonymous with exceptional creativity. The shortage of standard materials at that time affected all entrepreneurial activities, but Gucci ingeniously introduced hemp, linen, jute and, most recognizably, bamboo as alternatives. A handbag famously referred to as the ‘Bamboo Bag’ was developed in the late 1940s and left an indelible mark on the label’s history – later it became the favourite accessory of Queen Federica of Greece, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Deborah Kerr or Michelangelo Antonioni. An extraordinary mix of quality and craftsmanship, the bag is still available today, modernized in various styles and materials.
What is now referred to as the ‘Jackie O’ bag was given its name in honour of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, a great admirer of Guccio’s, while the soft and unstructured ‘Hobo Bag’, with its distinctly unisex style, was carried by luminaries such as Liz Taylor, Samuel Beckett and Peter Sellers. Another highly sought-after creation was the classic moccasin with horsebit hardware detail. In 1962, this famous shoe became part of the Costume Institute collection at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the years that followed, Gucci explored new applications and interpretations of its iconic motifs, including the horsebit, the stirrup, the green-red-green web, the interlocking double ‘G’ motif and the crest. Flora, a print drawn from a variety of flowering plants and insects, was created in 1966 by Vittorio Accornero as silk scarf for Grace Kelly and continues to be a vibrant part of Gucci’s house codes.
After the challenging 1980s period, the company re-emerged during the 90s, under the leadership of Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford.
A dramatic new era of style quickly commenced. Gucci’s designs were groundbreaking, critical-hits and coveted by consumers around the world. This was fashion that mixed tradition and innovation, luxury and modernity. The house achieved incredible global renown and cultivated the following of a high-powered, accomplished elite including Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Queen Rania of Jordan, Sting, Tom Cruise, Mick Jagger and Brad Pitt. Gucci had become a brand with a definitive statement—as much about quality and refinement as it was about sex and provocation. The horsebit moccasin was transformed into a stiletto, brightly coloured silk satin shirts were cut close to the body and trousers were low-waisted and hip-hugging.
In 1999, Gucci established a strategic alliance with the French Pinault-Printemps-Redoute Group, then renamed PPR, a world class player in the retail business. Over the next few years, key acquisitions such as Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga served to further strengthen its luxury portfolio.
In 2005, Frida Giannini was named Creative Director of Gucci women’s ready-to-wear, in 2006 she took over menswear, becoming Creative Director of the label.
Under Giannini’s creative directorship, Gucci has revisited its most authentic roots. The brand’s trove of iconic references has been re-explored: icons have been given a new life and a contemporary edge. ‘La Pelle Guccissima’ was launched in 2005 under Giannini’s directorship, re-proposing the classic double G and horsebit motifs on heat-printed leather and other prestigious materials. Giannini’s collections, a celebration of both past and present, have continuously sparked a new fashion consciousness, setting off global trends and resulting in undisputed hits.
Gucci's leather goods and ready-to-wear continues to be 100% Made in Italy. The exquisite quality and craftsmanship has been maintained by expert artisans, many of whom have collaborated with the company for generations. Gucci's modern vision blends the traditions of old-world craftsmanship with the allure of fashion, creativity and exclusivity.