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Gucci history and evolution

The luxury fashion brand is one of the leading fashion world. The history of Gucci is not only insteresting but inspirational and with a lot to learn about. The label is well-known because of it eclectic and contemporary creations. Besides their designs represents the pinnacle of Italian craftsmanship and have a high quality and attention to detail.

Guccio Gucci founded the House in 1921 in Florence, Italy. It first started producing luxury travel goods for the italian high society. Are you ready to know everything about the history of one of the most valuable luxury Houses in the world?

Guccio Gucci history

Guccio Gucci history
Guccio Gucci
Image courtesy of Gucci

Guccio Gucci was born in 1881 in Florence, Italy. His father was an italian leather goods maker. When Guccio was on his teens, he didn´t know what to do with his life so he decided to travel. He went to London and Paris, he worked there as a waiter, dishwasher and concierge. Above all, he could gain inspiration of the cities culture and sophistications. Once in London, he worked as a lift attendant at the prestigious Savoy Hotel and he observed the style of the wealthy people. Most importantly, he took notice of the beautiful luggage style that he saw.

A few years later, when Guccio had 40, he returned to Florence with an exquisite appreciation of fashion. He followed his father’s footsteps and opened the first Gucci shop in 1921 in Florence.

Gucci, the history of the success

It is from the opening of the first Gucci shop that the legendary history of Gucci really took off. At first it was a small luggage store and horseracing was the design’s main influence. The company shortly became well-known for its unique craftsmanship.

Through the 1930s the boutique provided bags, trunks, shoes, gloves and belts. And the success kept growing with international clients. In 1932 Guccio created the loafer shoe with a gilded snaffle and in addition the iconic luggage ties, shoes and the most known handbags with the bamboo handle. Moreover, at the same year, the business expanded with a store opening in Rome.

The beginings of Gucci
Gucci’s beginings
Image courtesy of Gucci

Guccio Gucci died at the age of 72 in 1953. The designer and his wife had six children and after his death four of them took over the business: Aldo, Vasco, Ugo and Rodolfo. Besides the company opened the first Gucci store overseas that year. And boutiques started to appear everywhere.

Guccio’s son created the chic ‘GG’ symbol in the 1960s. In honor of the label creator, the Guccio Gucci sign is still used today and is the most recognizable logo into the luxury fashion world. Besides during that decade the Gucci’s products gained recognition for their timeless designs. Iconic stars wore them like Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, Liz Taylor, Samuel Beckett. They were just some of the important personalities that consumed Gucci and did personal products requests.

The next decades the Gucci House nearly falls into bankruptcy and were difficult years of family problems. But in the 1980s the company could be re-established and then became one of the most profitable Italian designer Houses today.

In 1981 Gucci presented it first ever runway show in Florence. The next year the label became a public limited company and the leadership passed to Maurizio Gucci, Guccio’s grandson.

In 1989 Dawn Mello was the new creative director of the luxury brand. In 1992 Mello established the Gucci rebirth with recreations of the company’s bestsellers as well as the bamboo bag and loafers. But it wasn’t until 1994 when Tom Ford took command, that the label returned to success.

Tom Ford Era – 1994 to 2004

The Texas-born designer did history during his pass through Gucci. He received the stage of the hardest economic times of the luxury brand and turned it later into a celebrity must have.

Ford became Gucci sexy presenting a sequence of strong collections. The most known sensual white dresses with provocative cut-outs from 1995 were just the beggining. By 1996 the designer made a combination of show with hyper-sexy outfits for woman, sleek suits and hip-hugging trousers for men. Certainly, the Gucci new style made conservative fashion editors bushed.

The seduction also permeated Gucci’s ads. Ford produced scandalous campaigns that put him the reputation of fashion’s greatest provocateur. The sales exploded and the designer’s role at the new Gucci Group was growly significant.

Gucci Spring/Summer 1998 campaign
Gucci Spring/Summer 1998 campaign
By Luis Sanchis
Gucci Spring/Summer 2003 campaign
Gucci Spring/Summer 2003 campaign
By Mario Testino

Gucci Group acquired Yves Saint Laurent in 2000 and Ford was the one to renew the brand but it displeasured its founder. The press and the costumers loved Ford’s sexy take on YSL’s heritage. On the other hand, Saint Laurent himself hated Ford’s work. “The poor man does what he can”, commented once the legendary designer about the texan creative director’s sensual designs for the ready-to-wear line.

Ford left Gucci Group in 2004 between rumors and public accusations from both sides.

“Money had absolutely nothing to do with it at all. It really was a question of control”.

Said Tom Ford in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily.

After the breaking from the company, Ford established his image in the fashion industry and launched his own brand.

The Gucci Group opened a Gucci Museum in Florence and it was clear that the company was still grudged with Tom Ford. The exhibition was full of signature Gucci florals, leather bags from the brand’s early years and red carpet dresses by the creative director from the moment, Frida Giannini. It was as if the Ford decade had never existed.

In 2016 the museum enabled two more rooms in honor to Tom Ford. Alessandro Michelle selected himself all the pieces: the slithery white dresses were there, also the chubby colourful fur and the scandalous ads that had Ford’s signature. In conclusion, Gucci after all did justice and honored Ford for his contribution to the label’s history. Because of Ford Gucci is what it is today and marked the beggining of an era of star designers and powerful creative directors.

The following years

When Tom Ford decided to move on, Alessandra Facchinetti arrived to take charge of the women’s collections. She had been there only two ordinary seasons and left in 2005.

Frida Giannini stepped in and left behind Ford’s fixation on sex appeal. She turned her focus towards the originally House codes and revamped the legendary Flora print adding her signature.

Frida had to suffer a bit of scandal during her time in Gucci. After lot of speculation, she had to admit in 2011 that she had been secretly involved in a two-year relationship with the CEO of the company at the time Patrizio di Marco.

Her passed through Gucci had been immortalized in The Director. The documentary followed Giannini during 18 months and Alessandro Michele appears working as an associate director with his predecessor.

Giannini’s time ended when the sales started to dicrease and the reviews were bad. A few days after she was laid off, di Marco was also ousted.

Alessandro Michelle Era2015 to present

Alessandro Michelle worked for over 12 years with Gucci before being selected the one to take over after Giannini’s command. He also worked with Tom Ford designing handbags.

He first finished Frida’s final men’s collection completly transforming it just five days before the launch on the Fall/Winter 2015 runway. One month later, his first women’s wear collection was instantly a hit on the Milan runway.

It has been five years since the arrival of Michelle as creative director and he has turned Guccci into a maximalist dream. Crystals, ruffles, vibrant color schemes, fake heads and baby dragons – with a pinch of endless pop culture references – are some of the elements that used Michelle to turned Gucci to the “it” status that had during Ford’s era.

Under his management, Michelle created Gucci Garden in 2018 in the legendary Palazzo della Mercanzia, Florence. Moreover he established Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura that is not only a restaurant – and a boutique – but also it is a museum with the Gucci’s beginings. It is set entirely in the brand’s style and products.

My favourite Alessandro Michelle collections

If you liked this post you should take a look at Luxury brands history – Timeline

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