[T]oday would’ve been Gucci founder Guccio Gucci’s 137th birthday. The brand that he started in a small shop in Florence in 1921 selling luggage to horsemen is in its 95th year is now the ultimate fashion powerhouse, with its creative direction managed by the mercurial and preternaturally talented Alessandro Michele. Over the past century Gucci has established itself as a fashion focal point, from the creation of the iconic loafer in the 1950s, to Tom Ford’s majestic reign in the mid-90s and now to Alessandro Michele’s bohemian geek-chic, here are some of the highlights.
1953 – The Gucci Loafer
The classic Gucci loafer made its first appearance in 1953, when the brand was known predominantly for its leather goods. Partly in homage to Guccio Gucci and to the brand’s heritage and partly due to the shoe’s immense popularity, it continues to be a mainstay of Gucci collections to this day.
1964 – Aldo and Rodolfo Gucci introduce the “double-G” logo
The now iconic Gucci logo was introduced by Guccio Gucci’s sons Adolfo and Rodolfo who took over the business after their father’s death in 1953 and has been a key motif in the brand’s designs (and occasionally questionable tattoos) ever since.
The Tom Ford Revolution 1990-2004
Tom Ford was hired by Gucci in 1990 as part of a brand overhaul after a turbulent 1980s. The at-the-time struggling luxury goods company wanted to focus on its women’s ready-to-wear collections with Ford – who had been cutting his teeth working for Marc Jacobs at Perry Ellis – at the helm. Ford’s appointment was controversial – many members of the Italian fashion press thought it sacrilegious for a heritage Italian brand to hire an American designer – but proved to be a masterstroke.
Despite a strenuous working relationship with company director Maurizio Gucci (who was eventually murdered in 1995 by a hitman hired by his wife), Ford rapidly exerted his influence at Gucci, becoming creative director in 1994. Controversial ad campaigns (often shot by Mario Testino and styled by Carine Roitfeld), superlative collections and the creation of the chic, glamourous, luxury aesthetic – as epitomised by Ford’s triumphant AW95 show – that is now synonymous with the brand all became hallmarks of Ford’s time at the brand.
AW96 – The iconic side cut out dress
One of the stand-out pieces during Tom Ford’s Gucci tenure was this iconic side cut-out dress from AW96. The dress would not only find fame in Ford’s campaigns but also in Toni Braxton’s pretty excellent video for “Unbreak My Heart” starring Tyson Beckford. The dress served to encapsulate Ford’s Gucci – sexy, sophisticated, technical and highly desirable. Everything the fashion industry aims for, then.
AW14 – One of Frida Giannini’s final collections
Frida Giannini’s knee-high snakeskin boots and pastel blue and baby pink teddy bear coats dominated fashion editorials in AW14. Whilst her reign as Gucci creative director maybe be overlooked when historians eulogise about the work of Ford and Michele either side of her, this collection was one of the strongest and most critically acclaimed in Gucci history.
2015 – Alessandro Michele and “The Gucci Effect”
Alessandro Michele took the fashion world by storm when he took the helm at Gucci, transforming the brand with his bold and kaleidoscopic imagination into a Gucci wonderland inhabited by offbeat aristocrats and woodland creatures. Michelle’s electric revival of the brand has heralded a new maximalist mood in the fashion scene with romantic florals, embroidery and other Michele references featuring in numerous collections since.
Ss16 – Glen Luchford’s campaign
Glen Luchford lent his cinematic style to Gucci’s SS16 campaign, helping to craft a new aesthetic for the house under Alessandro Michele’s eccentric, bohemian vision. The campaign features a gang of Gucci girls and boys parading around Berlin rooftops and unused warehouses in Michele’s romantic designs.
Joining Versace, FURLA and DKNY/Donna Karen in a growing list of major fashion players who are committing to end the fur trade and adopt synthetic alternatives, Gucci announced it’s fur-free plans in October 2017. Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s President and CEO explained the decision during the 2017 Kering talk at the London College of Fashion, “Being socially responsible is one of Gucci’s core values, and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals. With the help of the Humane Society of the United States, Gucci is excited to take this next step and hopes it will help inspire innovation and raise awareness, changing the luxury fashion industry for the better.”
The modern muse 2k18: Gucci’s Insta-art gang
Teaming up with already established social media stars with millions of followers may seem like the obvious route to go down for an already established and successful fashion house, but part of Gucci’s success in recent years has been down to collaborating with underground Insta-artists to know, from Helen Downie aka @unskilledworker to surreal Spanish illustrator Ignasi Monreal.