I remember seeing the adverts flashing up for House of Gucci and was happy to see two familiar actors: Adam Driver with a leading role alongside Lady Gaga. You can imagine my delight when after setting my kids up with headphones, snacks and pillows I finally got to watch this film on a flight to New York. I just remember being completely absorbed in this Italian families life. Yes I was underwhelmed by the leading actors Italian accents but this story enthused so much love, decadence, murder and controversy to keep me enthralled. Let’s take a look back in time at the brand Gucci to where it is this present day and explore how It became such an inspiring brand to many.
Gucci is a powerhouse of a fashion brand having reinvented itself over many decades. Its history is volatile with stories of take overs, family feuds, near bankruptcy and last but not least a murder plot. What is incredible about Gucci is amidst all of the controversy the brand has somehow managed to stand the test of time in the fashion world.
The Origins Of Gucci
The brand began with Italian founder Guccio Gucci who worked as a bellboy in the posh London Savoy hotel. He loved the elegant, fancy suitcases of the affluent, upper-class people; so the story goes they inspired his first collection. Gucci’s overall vision for the brand was to echo the elite activities of the rich aristocrats, which is where the horse bit element in many of the designs came from.
During the 1935-36 period Italy faced an embargo from the league of nations which made importing leather difficult. Gucci managed to source its own materials by developing a woven hemp in Naples. This is where the interconnecting diamond design emerged on suitcases which proved to be a successful design.
Post World War II
After World War II Gucci’s son Aldo introduced pigskin to the brand as well as bamboo handled bags inspired by a saddle. Both materials becoming firm staples of the brand.
Sometime in 1951 when Rodolfo (Gucci’s son) opened the first Gucci store in Milan the green-red-green web became a new statement design for the fashion company.
At this time Gucci was considered a pioneer of Italian design in the US and around this time the first loafer with a horse bit element was created. (Fast forward to 1985 this design would be displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York).
The house’s crest became a registered trademark in 1955 with stores quickly opening in London and Palm Beach. A turning point was Jackie Kennedy being seen with a Gucci bag which was renamed after her: The Jackie. This bag was again reinvented in numerous colours in 1999 showing Gucci’s continual regeneration of the brand which had now crafted an ‘It’ bag all the celebrities wanted.
Into the Swinging 60’s
Soon many famous faces were becoming familiar with the Gucci brand one being Grace Kelly – the Princess of Monaco. Rodolfo personally commissioned a beautiful silk scarf as a gift for the Princess in 1966.
The Flora scarf was designed in just one night and became the most notable design in Gucci’s history. The scarf is adorned with 46 different types of flowers, insects and plants in 37 colours. It is known as one of the finest designs in Gucci’s history. Accornero who initially worked under the name Ninon, went on to design 80 scarves in total for Gucci each one beautifully elaborate and as decadent as the next one. Some designs depict spiders sat on top of flowers, dragonflies whizzing past, flowers hand picked and bunched into colourful bouquets.
Accornero was born in Casale Monferrato and was known as one of Italy’s leading artists of the mid twentieth century. He was a multi-talented man who worked in illustration, costume and theatrical design as well as being a talented painter. One of his first major jobs was working for country life magazine in New York for several months creating the stage sets and props. He then moved back to Milan where he worked as an illustrator for children’s books and collaborated with several fashion houses most notably creating the Gucci Flora Scarf design.
What was impressive about Accornero’s designs is he introduced seasonality by changing up the flower palette and colour tones to reflect autumn and winter months. These were designs that were classy and charming worn by such a diverse mix of women at the time such as Grace Kelly, Monica Vitti and Sophia Loren. Accornero worked from 1960 – 1981 for the fashion house and is undeniably a pioneer in the brands history; in 1981 he was awarded the ‘Gucci Knight of Labour’ cup. His designs to this day live on in different reproductions having been printed onto bags, scarves and clothes.
His style is often described as accentuated naturalism, this is evident in the Flora design which shows flowers and insects laid out so elegantly separated by negative space and a lack of symmetry that makes the design all the more natural and appealing. For me his Flora design reflects the illustrative style of his books with highly accentuated flowers of natural colours and tones. There is an elegance and softness to his style that epitomises the legacy of Gucci.
My new work embodies this softness with hints of designer emblems nodding to a fantasy like world where anything is possible including branded bumblebees. My insects have become humanised and my designs hope to capture the scents of the perfumes with bees sniffing and flying around bottles; the individual notes of the perfume turn into flowers emerging from the bottles. It is a feminine, iconic and playful collection of work inspired by the great illustrator and pioneer of Gucci fashion Vittorio Accornero.
Net-a-porter (Jackie Bag)
Pinterest (interconnecting Gucci Luggage Bag)
Faye Casson is based in North East London: selling limited edition prints and originals. Next Fair Date – East Art Fair, Spitalfields Market – 5th November 2022