Tracing The Historic 100 Years Of Gucci
As Gucci marks a century, we look back at its constant rebirth and redesign that we have witnessed over the decades
The iconic brand has long progressed beyond being just a design house. Over the years, Gucci has epitomised different concepts—ungender utopia, a symbol of the caviar-soaked lifestyle and moreover, the philosophy of inclusivity, acceptance and love. For some, a Gucci Jackie 1961 bag denotes the First Lady elegance (the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis chose several variants of the classic), for others, a pair of Gucci horsebit loafers (a mix of outdoorsy American lifestyle and English equestrian elegance) represent preppy chic.
Spring 2016 Rebellious Romantics
With the label clocking in 100 years of glamour, style and chic, one couldn’t help, but look back at its evolution—from Tom Ford’s era of uninhibited glamour and provocation (it’s hard to erase the 2003 ad from one’s mind, which featured a nearly nude Carmen Kass flashing a male model her pubic hair that she had shaved into a ‘G’), to Frida Giannini’s pared-down approach to glamour as she flirted with folklore, hippie chic and glam rock, moving to Alessandro Michele’s distinctive grammar of geek chic and cerebral sexiness.
Madonna and Frida Giannini
Waking Up The Community
Fall 1995 was a turning point in the label’s creative graph as Tom Ford shook the style cognoscenti out of their reverie with his parade of unbuttoned jewel-tone satin shirts, velvet hip-huggers and horsebit leather loafers seen on the likes of Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow and Kate Moss. Ford’s ‘70s-inspired designs with a great mix of rock ‘n’ roll signalled an unapologetically sensual new direction for the brand—an orgiastic overdose of artfully sexualised imagery. Ford’s take-no-prisoners approach to dangerous luxe made Gucci compellingly desirable.
Tom’s muse was the metaphor for sexual confidence, reflected a renegade sensibility and exuded predatory prowess. His Gucci-woman sparkled in skinny satin pants, pointy ankle-strapped heels, tousled mane and come-hither, off-the-shoulder tops. Ford’s subversive designs were seen on celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna.
An Era Of Revamp
Spring 2008 Ready-To-Wear
Cut to his successor Frida Giannini’s fantasyland of gipsy chic, and it’s hard not to think of the tapestry coats, short chiffon print dresses with flippy skirts and a plethora of cropped ribbon and stud-embellished vests and coats, realised in shearling and Mongolian lamb. Frida’s run as the creative director (2005-2014) was characterised by a push on lean tailoring and a focus towards the house’s equestrian codes. Constantly in a revival mode, she revamped the iconic Flora print, toyed with the distinctive red and green stripe and reinterpreted the Bamboo bag.
If Frida focused on the recontextualising of the house’s codes, her successor Alessandro Michele redefined genderless and seasonless style with his innovative, inclusive and iconoclastic vision.
Harness Your Intellectual Sexy
From lending the label an intellectual edge with his seminal, take-charge creations to making it a constant talking point thanks to an array of artistic collaborations (Ignasi Monreal, Dapper Dan, the North Face, Balenciaga and Ken Scott), each of Michele’s shows has been an intense, contradictory and a sensorial carnival. Season after season, we saw him celebrate a nerdy charm and cinematic whimsy, taking his designs to locales such as London’s Westminster Abbey, and Los Angeles’ hotel Chateau Marmont and the city of Arles in southern France.
Gucci-Dapper Dan: The Collection
Often experimenting with English tweeds, Disney and Sega references, and at other times, peppering the merchandise with slogans reading Guccification, Guccy and Guccify Yourself—Michele has made the label a synonym for the ‘more is more’ aesthetic.
Gucci Resort 2019
His legion of loyalists eclipse the red carpet in pussy-bow lace blouses, seen on the likes of Harry Styles, Jared Leto and Florence Welch. Today, when one visualises Gucci, one pictures an array of Renaissance-inspired jacquard pantsuits, metallic pleated skirts and fairy-tale chiffon dresses swathed in zigzag sparkle. Playfulness mingled with defiance. Heritage clashed with disruptive designs. All in all, hitting the sweet spot between fetish and chic.
With Gucci turning 100 this year, it’ll be interesting to see how the label’s maximalist aesthetic of excess and extravagance evolves further.
Fall 2015 Urban Romanticism