the designers

Gucci, or the House of Gucci, is an Italian haute couture establishment. It was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921. Like many other high-fashion companies, Gucci began as a small, family-owned saddler and leather goods store.

Guccio Gucci was the son of an Italian merchant form the country’s northern manufacturing region. In 1898 Guccio Gucci left Florence in Italy to traveled to Paris and London, where he “gained an appreciation of cosmopolitan culture, sophistication, and aesthetics”.

So in 1905 he returned to Italy and started selling saddles and saddlebags, and was quite successful.

Gucci opened his first boutique in the family’s native Florence in 1921 and quickly built a reputation for quality, hiring the best craftsmen he could find to work in his atelier.

In 1932 Guccio Gucci created the loafer shoe with a gilded snaffle. These are the only shoes to have found a place in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

In 1938, Gucci expanded and a boutique was opened in Rome. Guccio was responsible for designing many of the company’s most notable products.

In 1947, Gucci introduced the bamboo handle handbag, which is still a company mainstay.

Guccio and his wife Aida Calvelli had a large family, six children in all, though only his sons – Vasco, Aldo, Ugo, and Rodolfo – would play a role in leading the company.

After Guccio’s death in 1953, Aldo helped lead the company to a position of international prominence, opening the company’s first boutiques in London, Paris and New York

Even in Gucci’s fledgling years, the family was notorious for its ferocious infighting. Disputes regarding inheritances, stock holdings, and day-to-day operations of the stores often divided the family and led to alliances. As the Gucci expanded overseas, board meetings about the company’s future often ended with tempers flaring and luggage and purses flying. Gucci targeted the Far East for further expansion in the late 1960s, opening stores in Hong Kong and Tokyo. At that time, the company also developed its famous GG logo (Guccio Gucci’s initials), the Flora silk scarf (worn prominently by Hollywood yctress Grace Kelly), and the Jakie O shoulder bag, made famous by Jackie Kennedy, the wife of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Gucci remained one of the premier luxury goods establishments in the world until the late 1970s, when a series of disastrous business decisions and family quarrels brought the company to the verge of bankruptcy.

At the time, brothers Aldo and Rodolfo controlled equal 50% shares of the company, though Aldo felt that his brother contributed less to the company that he and his sons did.

In 1979, Aldo developed the Gucci Accessories Collection, or GAC, intended to bolster the sales for the Gucci Parfums sector, which his sons controlled. Aldo relegated control of Parfums to his son Roberto in an effort to weaken Rodolfo’s control of the overall operations of the company. Though the Gucci Accessories Collection was well received, it proved to be the destabilizing force that brought the Gucci dynasty crashing down. Within a few years, the Parfums division began outselling the Accessories division.

The newly-founded wholesaling business had brought the once-exclusive brand to over a thousand stores in the United States alone with the GAC line, deteriorating the brand’s standing with fashionable customers.

It didn’t take long before counterfeiters ravaged the company’s pomp by flooding the market with cheap knockoffs, further tarnishing the Gucci name. Meanwhile, infighting was taking its toll on the operations of the company back in Italy: Rodolfo and Aldo squabbled over the Parfums division, of which Rodolfo controlled a meager 20% stake.

By the mid-1980s, when Aldo was convicted of tax evasion in the United States by the testimony of his own son, the outrageous headlines of gossip magazines generated as much publicity for Gucci as its designs.

In 1983 Rudolfo died of cancer, Maurizio his, inherited his share and took over running the business. Maurizio allied with Aldo’s son Paolo to gain control of the Board of Directors and established the Gucci Licensing division in the Netherlands for tax purposes. Following the decision, the rest of the family left the company and, for the first time in years, one man was at the helm of Gucci. Maurizio sought to bury the fighting that had torn the company and his family apart and turned to talent outside of the company for Gucci’s future.

In 1989, Maurizio managed to persuade Dawn Mello, whose revival of New York’s Bergdorf Goodman in the 1970s made her a star in the retail business, to join the newly-formed Gucci Group as creative director.

At the helm of Gucci America was Domenico De Sole, a former lawyer who helped oversee Maurizio’s takeover of the company and the purchase of the company’s remaining shares by Investcorp, a Bahrain-based holding company between 1987 and 1989.

The last addition to the creative team, which already included designers from Geoffrey Beene and Calvin Klein, was a young designer named Tom Ford. Raised in Texas an New Mexico, he had been interested in fashion since his early teens but only decided to pursue a career as a designer after dropping out of Parsons School of Design in 1986 as an architecture major. Dawn Mello hired Ford in 1990 at the urging of his partner, writer and editor Richard Buckley.

During the 90's, there was a lot of bad feeling between Maurizio Gucci and Investcorp which resulted in litigation.

Dawn Mello returned to her job at Bergdorf Goodman less than a year after Maurizio’s departure, and the position of creative director went to Tom Ford, then just 32 years old. Ford had worked for years under the uninspiring direction of Maurizio and Mellow and wanted to take the company’s image in a new direction. De Sole, who had been elevated to CEO, realized that if Gucci was to become a profitable company, it would require a new image, and so he agreed to pursue Ford’s vision. Ford had long been an avid follower of two of America’s top designers, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Klein, much like Ford, was a “superstar designer,” the exemplar of his own brand: stylish, suave, and modern. His scandalous advertisements made the brand synonymous with eternal youth and the mystery of adolescent sexuality.

In 1995 Maurizio Gucci was murdered. His wife was convicted of his murder. In 1995, Tom Ford's "Jet Set" collection with velvet hipsters and satin bodyshirts in jewel colours was the sexiest of the season. He went on with such success that the company turned around and is now operating very successfully. Now each season, Gucci gets better and better. Tom Ford's approach has proved to be perfect and right up to now, Gucci is one of the most profitable Italian designer houses, being a million dollar concern.

Domenico De Sole was incensed by the news and declined Arnault’s request for a spot on the board of directors, where he would have access to Gucci’s confidential earnings reports, strategy meetings, and design concepts. De Sole reacted by issuing new shares of stock in an effort to dilute the value of Arnault’s holdings.

The second largest shareholder is Crédit Lyonnais with 11%. After a failed attempt at contract renewal with PPR in 2003, Tom Ford and Domenico de Sole decided to take their leave from Gucci Group.

In March 2004, it has been announced that the new Creative Director of Gucci Women’s wear is Alessandra Facchinetti. She joined Gucci in 2000 and has worked for four years alongside Tom Ford, who found her a talented perfectionist in making the luxurious garments for which the house is renowned. Taking over from Domenico de Sole, will be Dutchman Robert Polet (born 1955) who was with Unilever. He will join on July 1st 2004 and has global experience of running multi-national companies. After only one year, and two collections, Alessandra Fachinetti has decided to leave Gucci and has resigned. "Disagreements with management" has been mentioned as the reason.

Gucci has announced that Frida Giannini will be taking over women’s wear design. Frida was looking after the Gucci accessories line for two seasons, with great success. Prior to joining Gucci she spent 5 years designing at Fendi. Frida was chosen by Time magazine in April 2005, as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The Look

Urban, aggressive seductress and her playboy consorts. For men, the image veers closer to that of a pool boy and his sugar daddy.

Who Wears It

Everyone. Literally every major celebrity (A-, B-, C-, and D-list) has worn a Gucci piece at least once. Jakie Onassis, Sophia Loren, Rock Hudson, Duchess of Windsor, Sidney Poitier, Andrey Hepburn, Andrew Peacock, Kim Novak, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Jack Nicholson, Madonna, Gwenyth Paltrow, Elizabeth Hurley, Charlize Theron


1966 Kanon (M)
1974 Gucci No. l (W)
1976 Gucci pour homme
1982 Eau de Gucci
1985 Gucci No. 3 (W)
1988 Gucci Nobile (M)
1991 L'Arte di Gucci
1995 Eau de Murano
1995 Gucci Accenti (W)
1996 TBA (W)
1997 Gucci Envy (W)
1998 Envy for Men
1999 Rush (W)
2000 Rush for Men
2001 Rush 2 (W)
2002 Rush 2 (M)
2002 Gucci Eau de Parfum (W)
2003 Gucci Homme (M)
2003 Gucci Eau de Parfum 2 (W)
2004 Rush Summer (W)
2004 Envy Me (W)
2007 GUCCI (W)
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