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Happy Birthday: The Gucci fashion brand celebrates its centenary.
© Guccio Gucci S.p.A.

Lots of glamour, wealth, intrigue, family feuds – the Gucci fashion brand almost broke down from too much of it. Now it is celebrating its 100th birthday. Numerous activities are helping to stage the anniversary in a fitting manner. Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, for example, recently staged his latest collection under the title “Love Parade” in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. The location was symbolic, as Ridley Scott’s film “House of Gucci” with Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, which hits German cinemas on 2 December, proves that at least one dark chapter of the family’s history has the makings of a script for a Hollywood flick.

At the end of the 19th century, a young man named Guccio Gucci had left Florence for London to try his luck. He found work at the famous Savoy Hotel, was fascinated by the guests’ fine luggage, went back home and went into the leather goods business himself. In 1921, he opened his first shop in Florence. The following generations pushed the development forward, introduced the green and red stripes that go back to saddle straps as a Gucci symbol, launched a bag with a bamboo handle that was to become a trademark – and in the late 1960s made a loafer with a horsebit clasp over the instep a status symbol.

Success was not enough, however, and the brand’s lustre faded, with ups and downs following until Gucci was left without a single Gucci in the company in the early 1990s. Maurizio Gucci did not live to see the hype that fashion designer Tom Ford ignited with a new look: as he was about to enter his Milan office on the morning of 27 March 1995, four pistol bullets hit him. The murder was ordered by his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani, who was sentenced to 29 years in prison. It is this part of the family history that is at the centre of the feature film “House of Gucci”. After a fended-off hostile takeover by the French luxury goods manufacturer LVMH in 1999 and a few less incisive collections, the Gucci brand has opened a new chapter in its glamorous, sometimes abysmal history in recent years.

If you want to know more about how much the Guccis argued, schemed, disinherited and litigated, you can read the poisoned family history in Sara Gay Forden’s book “Gucci – Fashion, Murder and Business”, which also served as a template for Scott’s film.

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