While we wait for the Gucci-movie, let’s read the book

Jam-packed with stars Ridley Scott’s movie “House of Gucci” is opening at the end of the month. Yes, we are talking Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino is leading roles here. While most fashion enthusiasts are looking forward to it, the Gucci family is apparently fuming, and accusing Ridley Scott of turning a proud family history into a kitchy soap opera focusing on the life and death of Maurizio Gucci who was murdered in 1995. The family is also said to be less than thrilled with the casting, especially Al Pacino whom they claim is too short, fat and ugly (!!).

It is based on Sara Gay Forden’s fabulous book “The House of Gucci. A sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed” – first published back in 2000. A book that has gained a reputation as one of the most fascinating and well researched fashion books written.

“Gucci has had a rich history from it’s beginning as a leather shop in the early 1900s to it’s current incarnation” stated Sara Gay Forden at the launch of her book back then. The book offers a unique insight into a vast family empire built on design genius, ambition, and passion. The adventure started with a small leather shop opened by Guccio Gucci in Florence  in 1920.

During the fifties and sixties it grew into a huge luxury corporation – much helped by the North American market which was fundamental to Gucci’s success. It was here the brand was first established a status symbol with the Gucci loafer in the late fifties – early sixties. But – the new movie focuses of course on the great family tragedy: the murder of Guccio Gucci’s grandson Maurizio Gucci’s murder in Milan in 1995.

Maurizio had taken over the business after his father Rodolfo died in 1983 and proved to be unsuccessful as president. In 1988 he was compelled to sell the family business to Investcorp, a Bahrain-based company.

At 8:30 am on Monday March 27 he was walking to his offices and as he entered the building a man came up behind him and fired four shots, the fourth shot to his right temple. His former wife, Patrizia Reggiani, was convicted of hiring his killers. The family had been against the marriage from the start, as Patrizia was considered vulgar and a a gold-digger. When she and Maurizio married none of the family came to the wedding. It was a reputation she was eager to build herself. She once told a tv-reporter:

“I would rather cry in a Rolls Royce then be happy on a bicycle”.

The couple had split in 2985, and Maurizio – now free of all the family feuds he had seen within the Gucci company started a new bitter struggle: to gain custody of his daughters and the settlement with his ex-wife. A feud that ended with tragedy. Patrizia Reggiani, was convicted of hiring her ex-husbands killers. According to Sara Gay Forden Tom Ford displayed a set of silver handcuffs in the window of Gucci’s store in Milan the day she was convicted.

Meanwhile, the new investors had promoted the American-educated Domenico De Sole from the position of family attorney to president of Gucci America in 1994 and chief executive in 1995. Aware of Gucci’s tarnished image and the value of its name brand, the company needed a new designer. According to Forden they wanted Gianfranco Ferré but could not afford him, so they ended up hiring the American Tom Ford who had been with the company for a while and had good insights into every aspect of the Gucci business. Ford, who was first hired do design a ready-to-wear line in 1990 was ambitious and eager to expand as he dreamt of creating a lifestyle brand much like Ralph Lauren. In 1994 he was promoted to creative director. With Domenico De Sole as president and Tom Ford at the helm as creative director the company was streamlined into a successful modern-day fashion house it is today.

Oh and if this is not enough, there is another Gucci-book on the market: “In the Name of Gucci” written by Fashion heiress Patricia Gucci where she discusses her childhood and the longtime family secrets revealed in her own memoir. See her interviewed by Wall Street Journal in 2016 here:

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