Designer 101 - Back to School With Gucci

Posted: Aug 18 2015



In 1921, Guccio Gucci opened a leather goods company and small luggage store in his native Florence.  His goal was to infuse the master craftsmanship of local Tuscan artisans with a refined sense of English nobility.  His business flourished and by the 1930’s many of Guccio’s Italian clients were local horse-riding aristocrats.  Their demand for riding gear led Gucci to develop its unique Horsebit icon, an enduring symbol of the fashion house.  The Diamante canvas was also introduced at this time.  It was the original signature print that included small connecting dark brown diamonds on a tan canvas background.  Guccio was a brilliant businessman and his resourceful nature helped the company stay afloat during the lean war years.  Faced with a shortage of materials and leather, Guccio invented the burnished bamboo handle that is still popular today. 


Guccio passed away in 1953 and his sons took over the business.  Despite much family drama and betrayal, the company continued to grow and expand into the 1960’s by introducing the green-red-green web stripe (inspired again by the equestrian theme), adopting the legendary interlocking double G logo, and opening stores in Milan and New York.


Throughout the 1960’s, the Gucci brand grew increasingly popular around the world, largely due to its celebrity endorsements.  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was known for carrying the Gucci shoulder bag, which is still known today as the Jackie O.  Liz Taylor, Peter Sellers and Samuel Beckett sported the unstructured, unisex Hobo Bag, while Grace Kelly personally requested the creation of the now famous Flora silk print scarf (the Flora design is still seen on Gucci handbags today).  The popularity of the brand led Gucci to expand abroad, opening stores in London, Palm Beach, Paris and Beverly Hills.


In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Gucci became more accessible to the masses with its Accessories Collection, a less expensive class of canvas goods that sported the interlocking double G logo and the web striping.  However, by the early 1990’s, the fashion house was ready to regain its elite status once again and hired Tom Ford as the Creative Director.  He infused the luxury brand with a sense of daring and provocation that resonated with celebrities and the fashion world.  The stiletto, velvet pantsuits and silk cutout jersey dresses with metallic hardware details became instant icons of Ford's uniquely glamorous vision and led Gucci to reclaim its title of luxury provider. 


The current Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, was promoted to his position after several years as head of accessories.  He brought an eclectic mix of romance and vintage style to Gucci and surprises his design team daily with his freethinking attitude and ideas.  It is an interesting follow-up to the minimalistic style of his predecessor, Frida Giannini, who was known for reintroducing key house icon favorites such as the New Jackie and the New Bamboo handbags.


Gucci is one of the most enduring fashion houses in history.  Through decades of tumultuous change, the house continues to produce the most beautiful, luxurious items in the world.  If you would like to learn more about this fascinating family, we recommend reading "The House of Gucci" by Sara Gay Forden.  It is an educational, insightful and salacious account of the Gucci dynasty and all it represents.


See our selection of Gucci handbags at Prince & Park


 Included below are images of the Gucci family and famous Gucci designs.  

Images via Gucci, Vogue