Founded in Florence in 1921, Gucci is one of the world’s leading luxury fashion brands, with a renowned reputation for creativity, innovation and Italian craftsmanship. Throughout the years, the brand has seen its iconic designs achieve widespread popularity, with some of the most sought-after designers at its helm, including Tom Ford, Frida Giannini and recently Alessandro Michele. Since Michele’s appointment as creative director, the brand has been through a notable revamp of aesthetic codes with a timely injection of eclectic, bohemian glamour. Success has been evident both critically and commercially.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and track the footprints of this legendary design house…
1881: Guccio Gucci was born in Florence.
1897: He found work in the Savoy Hotel in London as a porter. The hotel was the preferred overnight spot for all the celebrities and politicians who visited London. While working there, he was inspired by the smart luggage he saw there, eventually causing him to open his own leather goods store.
1902: He returned to Florence and joined the leather manufacturer Franzi.
1921: Guccio opened his first stores in Florence on Via Vigna Nuova and then Via del Parione.
1933: Guccio Gucci’s son, Aldo Gucci joined the family business. Up until this point the company had operated without any sort of official logo, Aldo set out to change that by designing a logo that combined the initials of his father into a double-G design.
In the next few years, Gucci also developed a specially woven canapa, or hemp, from Naples, printed with the first signature print — a series of small, interconnecting diamonds in dark brown on a tan background. Gucci’s first successful suitcases were made from it.
1951: Rodolfo Gucci, Guccio’s other son, opened the first Milan store, on Via Montenapoleone. Around this time, the green-red-green web became a hallmark of the company.
1953: Gucci became a pioneer of Italian design in the U.S. when Aldo opened the first American store in the Savoy Plaza Hotel, New York, in 1953. Guccio Gucci passed away at age 72, 15 days after the New York store opened.
In the same year, the Gucci loafer with metal horsebit was created. The shoe with its equestrian symbol soon become synonymous with the ‘Jet Set’. It remains the only shoe in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
1960s: The bag that Jacqueline Kennedy was seen with was renamed the Jackie. Around this time, the GG logo was applied to canvas and used for bags, small leather goods, luggage and the first pieces. Originally a unisex schlepper, this bag was relaunched by Tom Ford in 1999, and again as the New Jackie in 2009, by creative director Frida Giannini.
1966: The Flora scarf was created with a print designed by Italian artist Vittorio Accornero for Princess Grace of Monaco.
1968: Gucci opened in Beverly Hills. While Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive have come to represent a decadent lifestyle, Gucci was actually the second major luxury brand to set down roots on the street — alongside the Giorgio Beverly Hills.
1972: Maurizio Gucci, son of Rodolfo, went to work with his uncle Aldo in New York.
1974: A flagship opened in Hong Kong.
1975: In 1975, the brand launched its first fragrance — Gucci No.1. It was developed by the perfumer Guy Robert, who infused it with flowers, greens and aldehydes.
1981: Ready-to-wear paraded for the first time at the Florentine fashion shows at the Sala Bianca, playing heavily on the Flora print.
1990: American designer Tom Ford was hired to oversee women’s RTW.
1993: Maurizio Gucci transfered his shares to Investcorp, ending the family’s involvement in the firm.
1994: Tom Ford was appointed creative director. His collections focused on jet-set glamour and is a critical and commercial success, putting the label back at the forefront of fashion. He also managed to establish the brand as one dedicated to evening glamour, consequently attracting hordes of Hollywood actors and actress.
1995: Domenico De Sole, previously chief executive officer of Gucci America Inc., was appointed Gucci Group’s CEO. He immediately began reining in licenses, franchises and secondary lines to reverse a decade that saw overexposure of the brand and cheapening of its image.
In the same year, Maurizio Gucci was gunned down by a hit man commissioned by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani. When Reggiani was convicted in 1998, Gucci’s flagship store in Florence displayed silver handcuffs with the Gucci emblem in its display windows.
1999: The company weathered a hostile takeover bid by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief executive Bernard Arnault. It was ultimately saved when François Pinault of strategic investment firm PPR (known as Pinault Printemps Redoute at the time) decided to invest in the brand.
Around the same time, the Jackie bag relaunched in many colors and variations, triggering a huge and sustained response. It opened the era of the Gucci “It” bag.
2002: Frida Giannini, previously handbag designer for Fendi, joined the label’s accessories department, contributing bold reinventions of house signatures as part of Ford’s design team.
2004: Ford and De Sole left the company when they and parent company PPR failed to come to terms over a new contract.
2005: Giannini was appointed creative director of women’s RTW following her successful relaunch of the Flora print as a bag collection. A year later, she added the role of creative director for menswear.
2007: The first TV ad campaign ran. It was for the Gucci by Gucci fragrance and was directed by David Lynch.
2011: The company celebrated its 90th anniversary.
2014: Frida Giannini stepped down as creative director of Gucci.
2015: Alessandro Michele was announced as Gucci’s new creative director in January 2015. With the strong support of Marco Bizzarri, the label’s CEO and president, Michele was given free reign to bring his idiosyncratic sense of vintage style to the Italian fashion house, leading to a period of impressive growth at the house.
2017: Gucci reported an “exceptional [financial] performance across the board,” with a record first quarter revenue increase of 51 percent — its strongest in 20 years.