Founded one hundred years ago, the Italian luxury brand Gucci is today one of the most phenomenal successes of the fashion world. A subsidiary of the French group Kering, Gucci brings in more revenue than any of its other big names, among them, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen. In 2019, the brand value of Gucci alone amounted to 10.2 billion dollars in the US, and it is the label of choice for contemporary style icons Harry Styles and Rihanna.


It all began in 1921 when Guccio Gucci opened a small handbag shop in Florence. His vision, however, was to make quality bags and luggage for a European travelling elite, and he later added memorable symbolism such as the interlocking Gs that adorned the bags. After his death, Guccio left the business to his five sons, but the siblings fought constantly over the company. By the 1970s Gucci was split equally between the brothers Rodolfo and Aldo, who chose to sort out their disputes through the courts rather than in person. In 1983, Rodolfo’s son Maurizio inherited his 50 per cent, and then became majority shareholder.


By the 1990s, Gucci was profitable, but had lost its glamour. Products were too cheap in price and in look. Maurizio wanted to return the brand to what it once was: expensive and exclusive; but his own spending was extravagant and misplaced. By 1993, Gucci was in debt and Maurizio was forced to sell out to investors. There, the story of Gucci the brand, and Gucci the family part ways... in dramatic style.


Gucci the brand made an extraordinary revival. The creative business team of Italian-American CEO Dominico De Sole and US designer Tom Ford proved controversial among Italians at first, but highly successful internationally. The fortunes of the Gucci family, on the other hand, were to take a turn for the worse! In March 1995, the forty-six-year-old Maurizio Gucci was shot dead in Milan; two years on, his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani was arrested and convicted for the crime.


It is their story that is told, on the backdrop of one of loss of control over a fashion empire, in the new film House of Gucci. Based on the book by Sara Gay Forden and directed by Ridley Scott, the movie covers the complicated marriage and bitter divorce of Maurizio Gucci, played by Adam Driver, and, played by Lady Gaga. Also starring Al Pacino and Jared Leto, the biographical crime film has proven divisive. Although highly anticipated by critics, it has been met with disdain from the family it represents, who claim that it is “identity theft for profit” and have said that the actors, whose outfits were inspired by the Gucci archives, are simply not good looking enough for their roles.