An Italian Fashion Institution
Continuing to reign as one of the greatest brands in the pantheon of Italian fashion, Gucci was first established back in 1921 as a leather goods manufacturer. The brand rapidly added accessories and ready-to-wear lines, introducing now iconic elements between the 1930s and 1950s: the horsebit, the red and green stripe, and the cane handle of the ‘bamboo’ bag. When Tom Ford took over the creative reins in 1994 he put the brand back on the map with a radical new direction that was provocative and unashamedly sexy, featuring stilettos, bias cut dresses with plunging necklines, sleek shapes and leather accents.
It was the advent of porno chic, championed by Ford and good friend Carine Roitfeld, the then editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, who styled several campaigns, some of which were scandalous. With an identity anchored in opulence, daring, and provocation, the Gucci silhouette became one of the most iconic fashion looks of the 1990s and 2000s.
A Spectacular Revival
In January 2015, Alessandro Michele, who was originally appointed by Ford and had been in charge of accessory creation, was appointed artistic director of the brand. In barely five days, he put together his first menswear collection which would set the tone for the new Gucci; lace, velvet, ascot ties and pastel colours formed an androgynous look tinged with retro references. His women's collection was an elaborate combination of prints, brocade and sequins, and bold colours that threw customers and fashion editors alike into a frenzy, and sent the Gucci turnover skyrocketing. From the Garden of Eden to Imperial China and surrealist paintings, Alessandro Michele draws inspiration from a rich and eclectic pool of references, injecting his collections with a hitherto untapped historical dimension. As a fan of Visconti and historical costumes, he turns his detailed looks and precise cuts into characters, that skateboard in the street, run through the halls of shopping centres and dance in an Italian villa. A fresh interpretation that signals an opulent renaissance.
Reinventing the Best-Sellers
The red and green stripe, the horsebit, the diamond monogram, the bamboo handle and more recently the bee (from the exotic menagerie of Alessandro Michele), have been re-established as key trademarks of the brand, and feature on the continually expanding list of best-sellers. The Dionysus bag, the Ace sneakers and the Princetown loafers are some of the most coveted and photographed items of the last few seasons. These bold new versions of classic designs simultaneously nod to the brand’s heritage whilst continuing to catapult Gucci ahead as the frontrunners of contemporary fashion.
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