The Bite Magazine - Spring/Summer 2022 - Issue 31

bitedesignerprofile Special Designer Profile Following the release of the House of Gucci film, Jada Brookes’ interest is piqued in finding more about the story behind the Gucci fashion house empire. Gucci R idley Scott’s controversial crime drama House of Gucci cen- tred on Patrizia Reggiani’s conviction for murdering her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci in the ‘90s, detailed the family feuds and power struggle of the Gucci empire rather than its prece- dent in the world of fashion and luxury goods. The Italian high-end luxury fashion house began its journey as a leather goods company, founded by Guccio Gucci, the son of an Italian merchant, in 1921 in Florence. In 1898, he’d left Italy to travel to Paris and London and worked as a porter at the Savoy Hotel in London. He had been fascinated by the luxurious suitcases and trunks carried by the aristocrats staying at the hotel. When he returned to Florence, he sold saddles and sad- dlebags, but the increase in automobiles led to the fall in demand for horse products, so he branched into other accessories. He opened a small luggage store selling designs inspired by London and made by local Tuscan artisans, quickly becoming popular. During the League of Nations embargo against Italy in 1935, Guc- cio used alternative ways to import leather and other materials fol- lowing the Italian and Abyssinian conflict. He developed a specially woven hemp from Naples bearing the brand’s first signature print of small, interconnecting diamonds in dark brown on a tan back- ground. When leather goods production resumed after the Second World War, Guccio’s first son Aldo introduced the pigskin, and bam- boo-handled bags; the latter in the shape of a saddle. His second son, Rodolfo, opened the first Milan store on Via Monte Napoleone in 1951, followed by the hallmark green-red-green web based on the belt enclosing the belly of the horse that kept the saddle in place. The red echoes the jacket of British fox hunters, and the green represents the wealthy owners of the countryside. Two years later, Aldo opened the first American store in the Savoy Plaza Hotel on East 58th Street in New York. Sadly, Guccio died 15 days before the New York store opened, at the age of 72. The fashion house continued with the creation of the Gucci loafer with a metal horsebit that was displayed at the Metropolitan Muse- um of Art in New York in 1985. After the brand’s GG crest became a registered trademark in 1955, they opened more stores in London and Palm Beach, Florida in 1961 and renamed the bag Jacqueline