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#ELLEFirstLook: Gucci’s Archives Find A Grand New Home At Florence’s Palazzo Settimanni

Gucci unveils a grand new home for its archives at Florence’s Palazzo Settimanni

By Namrata Kedar  September 18th, 2021

Archives are sacred repositories where the past meets the present to inform the future. For its centennial anniversary this year, Gucci is keeping it’s 100-year heritage alive by unveiling the new home for its archives in the restored Palazzo Settimanni in Florence, Italy. “My task was to bring many objects back home, virtually helping them return to the family,” Creative Director Alessandro Michele says. “To a place which ostensibly preserves the past but which is actually a bridge to the contemporary. An ancient building is a living thing. Like fashion,” he adds.

Alessandro Michele

Dialling Back The Centuries

Gucci acquired Palazzo Settimanni, an iconic 15th-century structure, in 1953. The building has been an integral part of the brand’s 10-decade journey, serving as Gucci’s Florentine factory, a workshop, and a showroom through the years. This major refurbishment spearheaded by Alessandro, saw the palace being restored to its original splendour, revealing priceless vestiges of frescoes dating back to the 17th century, 18th-century trompe l’oeil and 19th-century decorations.


“Palazzo Settimanni, now free of earlier additions, has been transformed into a magical place to which I have restored a sense of porousness—you pass through it, air gets in, you can walk through it as if it were a journey,” Alessandro explains. “I have restored to the Palazzo, a fairy-tale aura where the small entrance hall becomes a gateway to a dream dimension. I envisaged it as a sort of secret place within the House, an inner sanctum from where one sets out for Gucci’s holy lands,” he says.


Treasure Trove

The ground floor is dedicated to accessories including vintage luggage, bags and small leather goods. The exhibition room showcases signature styles that have retained their design codes, such as the Bamboo and Jackie bags. Adjacent to it is the jewellery room, Le Marché des Merveilles hall, featuring mirrored walls that create an illusion of infinity. It houses vintage and contemporary jewellery collections.


Textiles and footwear make up the first floor. The spectacular Serapis room features theatrical, life-size treasure chests that open mechanically to reveal bespoke stage and red-carpet designs. The Façonnier des Rêves hall is on the second floor. Fashion Institute of Technology’s Valerie Steele, who lent her curatorial eye to the project, describes it as a “memory palace.” With 100 years of Gucci’s formidable past tucked away in this fantastical setting, the statement rings true.


Photographs: Valentina Sommariva

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