Gucci! “It was a name that sounded so sweet, so seductive,” purrs Lady Gaga at the opening of “House of Gucci,” the new murder movie from 1995 that rocked the historic fashion house.
“[It was] synonymous with richness, style, power, ”she continues in a voiceover. “But the name was also a curse.”
What an understatement! “House of Gucci” unfolds like a Shakespearean tragedy, filled with backstabbing, betrayals, murder and more – all in the most extravagant and extravagant opulence: silk ties and stacks of jewelry, huge furs and va-va-voom dresses, Gucci double G logos on all.
“What a toxic family they were,” Janty Yates, the film’s costume designer, told The Post. She added that real-life personalities were just as glaring – and flamboyant – as their on-screen counterparts: “We took [their looks] fairly straight from the photographic reference.
There was Aldo Gucci, played here by Al Pacino, the gregarious and larger-than-life leader with a penchant for women and tax evasion. There was Aldo’s son Paolo – a paunchy, bald Jared Leto – the wayward heir who betrayed his 81-year-old father and put him in jail in 1986. There was the tragic idol of the morning Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), who was denying his only son, Maurizio (Adam Driver), when he decided to marry under his post.
And there was Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga), the wicked rich news who captured Maurizio’s heart, pushed him to take over Gucci and had him killed in cold blood when he no longer needed she.
They all dressed their pieces to the hilt and infused the real Gucci house with their singular flash and pizazz.
“It was a luxury house that had an international jet-set audience,” said Valerie Steele, museum director at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “A lot of movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and celebrities like Jackie Kennedy bought Gucci … It was glamorous.”
Founded in 1921 by the former Guccio Gucci groom, Gucci first provided luggage and leather goods to wealthy travelers. Guccio himself had a rather chic style – always wearing a luxury gold watch chain on his huge belly – but his sons surpassed him.
His eldest, Aldo, would turn Gucci into an empire, creating his iconic Horsebit loafers, bamboo handbag and red and green striped brand. (He also started the rumor that Gucci came from a family of noble saddlers, a myth that persists to this day.)
“Aldo was very elegant in terms of dress. He was 6 feet 2 inches tall. He was a ladies’ man, ”Yates said of the handsome, blingy man in town. “He always had a buttonhole and a ‘boofy’ [voluminous] silk pocket handkerchief, and a mismatched waistcoat and heavy tie.
Aldo modernized Gucci and made it bigger and more direct, while his younger brother Rodolfo (a worthy Jeremy Irons) had a more romantic style – all sumptuous velvet jackets in vibrant jewel tones, ties and neckties. silk dresses and (in the movie) luxurious pashmina shawls.
“Rodolfo had a very different sensibility,” said Sara Gay Forden, author of the book “House of Gucci”, which inspired the film. Rodolfo, a former silent movie star, “was a very reserved patrician gentleman,” Forden told The Post. “He didn’t even want to get into the family business at first – he thought he was an actor – and he wore tuxedo jackets and brocades.”
While Aldo is behind the house’s most flashy designs – like the double G-logo canvas bags – Rodolfo created the now-iconic Flora print, particularly as a scarf for Princess Grace Kelly. of Monaco.
Kelly “had come to [Milan] store, and he tried to give her a bamboo handle bag, which was their flagship product, but she objected and said, ‘Oh, no, that’s too much. Just something small… Maybe a scarf, ”Forden said. Gucci didn’t make scarves at the time, but that didn’t deter Rodolfo, who called a friend, artist Vittorio Accornero, and asked him to design a scarf with “a cornucopia of flowers. which would suit a princess ”.
Rodolfo’s melancholy ways stem from the death of his beloved wife and co-star, Sandra, who died at the age of 44 of uterine cancer, leaving Rodolfo widowed with 5-year-old Maurizio. Rodolfo never married again and spent the rest of his life working on a film based on scenes from his and Sandra’s personal films and films. He was so protective of Maurizio that he asked his butler to follow the boy into his car and spy on him.
Maurizio – tall and sleek like his father, in Savile Row suits and Gucci belts and moccasins – remained devoted to Rodolfo until his father disinherited him for marrying Patrizia. Still, the two eventually reconciled, and Maurizio, horrified by Gucci’s vulgar expansion under his uncle Aldo and spurred on by his ambitious wife, vowed to bring Rodolfo’s good taste back to the brand.
Gucci didn’t start selling clothes until the early 1970s, and Aldo commissioned his son, Paolo (Jared Leto), to design the ready-to-wear collections – mostly tunics sewn from the famous scarves. brand and lots of flashy leather. jackets and skirts.
“These are the years of Studio 54 and Liza Minnelli wearing Gucci leather miniskirts,” Forden said. “So it was hip – it was the epitome of cool.”
But by the 1980s, Paolo’s relationship with his father and uncle had deteriorated. Paolo wanted to take Gucci in a younger, more trendy direction, and he displayed a more colorful, even garish style himself.
“They called him ‘the dandy of the dandy’,” costume designer Yates said. “We made Aldo dandy with taste, and we made Paolo dandy tasteless – with shocking vests and big glass panes and big puffy ties.”
Yates borrowed several items from the Gucci archives of that time for the film. One set is a leather-trimmed tunic and matching pants covered with the double G logo that Gaga wears in the scene where she finds her maid wearing an imitation Gucci. Yet Patrizia herself – at first dazzled by the name Gucci – rarely wore Gucci clothing; the brand had become rather old-fashioned.
“She was wearing Saint Laurent, she was wearing Dior; she basically decorated herself with a Christmas tree with her jewelry, ”Yates said. (Patrizia even designed a short-lived jewelry line for the brand, although it turned out to be too ostentatious even for the family.) Nonetheless, she wanted to make Gucci even bigger and pushed Maurizio to, as Gaga puts it. in the movie, “take out the trash.”
“Like many fashion companies, Gucci has surpassed itself, and that made it appear less elitist,” said Steele of FIT. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, “they were distributing more products to larger markets, and because of that, the level of prestige declined. And then there was the shocking murder. [The brand] just seemed less bright and sparkling.
“People just didn’t know what Gucci meant anymore,” said Forden. “Is it a plastic GG toiletry bag or is it a really special leather bag with a bamboo handle?” “
Maurizio tried to restore elegance to the label. But he never got to see his vision take shape: After he tricked his family members into selling their shares in the company and then divorcing Patrizia, he crushed Gucci and was ousted when the creative director Tom Ford launched his sensational 1995 collection for the brand. Maurizio was killed a few weeks later.
Ironically, Ford restored Gucci not by running away from its excesses but by embracing them. Yates and her team recreated moments from her iconic first runway shows: the nude silk shirts, velvet jumpsuits and even Gucci flip flops that catapulted the brand to the top of fashion.
It’s a tactic that has served current Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele well. He reinvented the house’s basics, imagining fur-lined Horsebit shoes and GG-embellished garments with an extravagant, flowing gender pleat.
“I feel like, in a way, Gucci has come full circle and really connected its past to its present,” Forden said. And she fully embraced her scandalous past: “If you look at the catwalk, the models wear Maurizio Gucci’s signature aviator sunglasses.