India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Luxury & Brands
January 18, 2012

Celebrating 90!

Text by Shirin Mehta.

As the Italian fashion house, Gucci celebrates its 90th anniversary, Verve discovers fashion history being made and recorded

Actor Sonam Kapoor is particularly tall and inspiring, dressed in Gucci’s new collection, from top to toe. Fresh-faced, her hair tightly bound, she leans over the work desk set up at Gucci’s Mumbai store. In celebration of its 90th year, the brand is hosting the Artisan Corner, an exclusive event that brings the craftsmanship of Gucci’s Florentine leather goods directly to its customers. The House’s most skilled artisans are stationed at custom-built workshops and they offer a viewing of time-honoured traditions. Kapoor is intent on personalising a Stirrup handbag with hand-embossed monogramming. In addition, her chosen handbag will feature a special inside plaque embossed with the location and date. Clients who make purchases at this event are also presented with a personal letter from Gucci creative director, Frida Giannini.

A-listers and Page-3 incumbents mill around the minimalistic and large store, sipping at champagne and nibbling the tasty bites that are doing the rounds. Reena Wadhwa, promoter of the Italian brand in India, poses for the shutterbugs who are out in full force. A mood board in a prominent corner highlights drawings and sketches of parts of handbags, tassels, handles, the beginnings and foundations of handbags that have graced many a celebrity arm from Hollywood to Bollywood and many more besides. As the elegant throng crowds around, the craftsmen concentrate on assembling four of Gucci’s most iconic handbag designs – the New Bamboo, the New Jackie, the 1973 and the Stirrup. The precision with which the artisans work, their hands swift and sure and the intricacy of handmade details, keep everyone spellbound.

Parts of the Bamboo bag are being assembled on a wooden stand. The original Gucci Bamboo was created in 1947. In response to wartime shortages of materials, a bag was developed with a bamboo handle that was attached to it with only four small metal loops. This was reintroduced in the Spring/Summer 2010 Collection. The New Bamboo comprises 140 separate pieces and is crafted the same way as the original, requiring 13 hours of work to ensure that all its details are perfectly executed. Giannini, with unfailing instinct and with a sensibility that is deeply rooted in Gucci’s design history, has reintroduced one of the most iconic Gucci designs ever. The ’50s and ’60s saw the brand preferred by Hollywood stars and the most fashionable women of the time, including Jackie Kennedy who so favoured a certain handbag that it became known as ‘The Jackie’ and continues to be called that. Today, Kapoor’s eyes sweep around the handbags lined up on the store’s shelves. “This is so cool!” she intones. And then, “I really love The Bamboo.” Perhaps, as the evening grew long of shadow, she indulged herself in yet another Gucci bag.

The preface to Gucci: The Making Of, edited by Frida Giannini, a tribute to Gucci, published to mark its 90th anniversary, tells the tale of a young boy named Guccio Gucci who ‘spent his Saturday afternoons strolling along the Via de Tornabuoni with his mother, gazing at the window displays in all of the fine shops. He was especially drawn to the stores that sold leather goods, which his mother also admired…. Guccio vowed that someday, somehow, he would make bags that were even more beautiful than the ones she longed for.’ It was in 1921 that he opened his company and first store in Florence. In this dream lie the beginnings of the history of the brand, today celebrating 90 years. Through major ups and downs, family feuds and courtroom drama, the brand has held its own and today features the same values and vision that Guccio Gucci strived for.

Gucci: The Making Of Rich in archival material….
Part of Gucci’s 90th anniversary celebrations included the release of Gucci: The Making Of, a tribute to the heritage and influence of the Italian fashion house. The 384-page book presents a collection of 52 original essays and over 700 images, telling the story of the brand’s origins, identity, craftsmanship and innovation. Simultaneously available in English, French and German, the book is edited by Gucci creative director, Frida Giannini. The trade edition is sold in fine bookstores worldwide while a luxury edition, bound and slip-cased in bonded leather will be sold exclusively in Gucci boutiques.

Gucci Museo
Keeping the archives alive….
Those with an interest in fashion and fans of the Gucci label now have a new destination of note on their visit to Florence, the city where Guccio Gucci opened his first store in 1921. The House’s 90th anniversary celebrations included the opening of the Gucci Museo inside the ancient and historic Palazzo della Mercanzia located in the central Piazza Signoria. Conceived by Gucci creative director Frida Giannini, the museo presents a permanent exhibition from the House’s rich and culturally significant archives juxtaposed with contemporary art installations supported by the Pinault Foundation. “Ever since my first visit to the archive when I joined Gucci nine years ago, I have felt a deep commitment to the House’s legacy and have wanted to expose the rich archive in celebration of the remarkable narrative behind so many of our iconic products and motifs…. In this way the Gucci Museo will both conserve and celebrate the most significant moments in the history of the House….” comments Giannini. Gucci’s president and CEO, Patrizio di Marco, says, “We have decided to give life to something very dynamic and engaging….”

Spread over three floors, the museum is divided into thematic rooms inspired by Gucci’s iconic motifs and symbols. On the ground floor, visitors will discover the Gucci Caffe; the Bookstore which offers a curated selection of publications on art, fashion, photography and architecture; a gift shop for collectibles and the Icon Store which offers an exclusive Icon Collection of unique editions including bags, the horsebit moccasin and the Flora scarf, all designed by Giannini in exclusive colours and detailing especially for the museum.

The permanent exhibition space is divided into themes of Travel, Flora World, Handbags, Evening, while the Contemporary Art Space is located on the first floor. Here too one will discover screenings of landmark films that Gucci has helped restore through its collaborations with Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation as well as documentaries for which Gucci has provided finishing funds through the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund.

Whether you wish to chronicle the evolution of the double G monogram or learn about the history of your favourite handbag, you will find it all here at the Gucci Museo.

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