Does the Gucci family own Gucci?

Does the Gucci family own Gucci?

Who started Gucci?

The Gucci fashion house makes for a near-legendary style story. The renowned Italian giant has gone from being an ambitious and successful luggage label in the pre- and inter-war periods, to one of the more renowned fashion names during the dying ‘golden age’ of glamour. It lost most of the glitz in the 80s and 90s, before a change of ownership and stylistic resuscitation brought it back to the fore in the late 90s. More recently it has pushed on gone again with an ‘anti-fashion’ template that makes it the most important Italian brand.


It could be argued that many different people have [re] started Gucci at different times down the years. From its birth and early development under Guccio Gucci, to its evolution into a proper fashion ‘brand’ under Aldo Gucci and brothers, and resuscitation from creative inertia [Dawn Mello and Tom Ford] and financial implosion [Investcorp and then Kering].


Guccio Gucci started the company in 1921. A Florentine who had worked as a bellhop at the Savoy Hotel in London, Guccio absorbed the tastes and studied the needs and trends of the hotel’s upper-class clients to begin manufacturing luggage and leather goods to suit.


The Gucci family claims Florentine connections that stretch back to the 1400s and it is to this – the cultured Florentine origins plus the association with luggage [sturdy, strapping] as opposed to frivolity or pure commercialism  – that distinguishes Gucci from, say, the classical French houses or Milanese tailoring.


It was Aldo Gucci [played as Uncle Aldo by Al Pacino in the recent film, House of Gucci] who [the film makes apparent] saw the need to internationalize and more blatantly capitalize on the Gucci name.    






Does Guccio Gucci’s family still own Gucci?

Alas, somewhat inevitably, Gucci family members no longer have control of the company they built and eventually jeopardized.


The family-business’ demise can be traced initially to Guccio’s dividing the spoils amongst his three sons, Aldo, Rodolfo [played in the film by a stoic and jaded Jeremy Irons] and Vasco, and the creative and business influence of Aldo’s son Paolo Gucci [played in tragi-camp caricature by Jared Leto].


Discord aside, it was the dispersion of the core ideal, the expansion into new markets such as Asia [Japan then riding its pre-bust high and keen – as ever – on Western brands] with franchising and diffusion lines that [much like Halston of the same era or Pierre Cardin in the 90s] led to increases in sales but a dilution of that sacred reputation.


Seen in the rear-view mirror, the eighties should have been a time for a consolidation for fashion houses with a reputation to uphold. Gucci, it could be argued, attempted to commercialize like 80s hits Benetton and Guess. They were financially successful, but the brand image suffered as a result [a fate that befell Burberry, for much the same reasons, in the mid-nineties].


Rodolfo’s son Maurizio Gucci [a solid Adam Driver in the film] took over the company reigns and this coincided with the Gucci decline; sealed with his murder by a gunman, hired by his ex-wife Patrizia Gucci; played with great energy by Lady Gaga.


But the initial demise of Gucci cannot be solely associated with Maurizio’s takeover, tax evasion and murder, or explicitly to the influence of the three brothers or the creative failures of Aldo’s son Paulo, but rather to a convergence of old school values and musty fashion sensibilities with a new age of marketing and distribution that the family business wasn’t structurally or creatively aligned to handle.


The fact that Gucci survives – indeed thrives – today is basically as impressive as the building of the original empire under Guccio and Aldo, and almost as surprising as the fact that it didn’t crash and burn in the mid-nineties.  






Who owns The Gucci fashion house?


Investcorp wrested control from the hands of Gucci family members in 1993, and in 1995 the company was first traded on the New York stock exchange.


LMVH [who now owns Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Givenchy, as well as a swathe of the biggest international cosmetic and beauty firms] gradually increased its shares in the company, leading to Gucci turning to Pinault-Printemps-Redoute [now the fashion holding company Kering, who owns Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga] to avoid a takeover from LMVH.





[Interestingly, Salma Hayek, who plays wife Patrizia Reggiani’s friend and accomplice in the film, is married to Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault].


The turnaround at Gucci since that mid-90s nadir has been absolute. Dawn Melo should take much credit for changing its fortunes through a repurposing of Gucci as a luxury label, and for hiring American Tom Ford to bring in some much-needed electricity.


Gucci have latterly experimented with various takes on Ford’s ‘porno-chic’ look, while also revisiting [with varying degrees of success] the Gucci back catalogue for inspiration.


Alessandro Michele’s hiring as creative director in 2015 has seen the most radical shift in the Gucci aesthetic since Ford’s arrival, and one could argue Michele has made an even bigger stylistic statement.


The only let-down is the recent film. It’s no real surprise that Gucci has gone to some lengths to distance itself from the ‘inspired by true events’ take on family feud and murder.


Surely the question must be, why Ridley Scott as the film director of Gucci? Why not hire an Italian director for what is, in every sense, a very Italian story about the members of the Gucci’s fading empire?


Or better yet why not ask Tom Ford, now a talented [if only part-time] film director?


Ultimately the film is forty years too late. Gucci moved on and changed in order to sidestep an otherwise inevitable demise. It left the Gucci family to their mansions and memories. Its current collections offer a more exciting telling of the Gucci tale to date

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