Born in Florence, Italy in 1881, Guccio Gucci was entranced by the elegant luggage he saw while working as an immigrant in a London hotel. Before returning to Italy, he quenched his fascination by visiting an English luggage-maker and brought that fascination back to his home in Florence—a city that was (and still is) renowned for its luxury materials and masterful craftsmen. He opened his first stores in Florence on Via Vigna Nuova and then Via del Parione in 1921, but was challenged with a League of Nations embargo against Italy in 1935 to 1936 plus the leather shortage that followed World War II. Responding with ingenuity, Gucci developed innovative, alternative fabrications that are synonymous with the brand to this day, like waterproof variations of canvas and satin, bamboo, pigskin, plus a woven hemp from Naples that was the first fabric to don the brand’s original signature print: small, interconnected diamonds in a monochromatic brown and tan palette.
The success of the brand continued, expanding with stores in Milan and Rome, plus the integration of the signature double-G logo accented with red and green stripes. In 1953, Aldo Gucci (one of Guccio’s three sons) made history by opening a store in the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York City—establishing the company as the leader of Italian design in the American fashion market. Only 15 days after the store’s opening, Guccio Gucci died at age 72.
FROM ITALIAN DRAMA TO THE MODERN ERA
Flourishing through the 70s, the iconic brand almost came to a grinding halt in the 80s due to Gucci family disputes that were truly reminiscent of today’s soap-opera plots:
- Guccio’s grandson Maurizio took the company reigns in 1983 and fired his uncle Aldo—who then went to prison for tax evasion.
- Maurizio sold the company in 1988 and completely removed himself, giving up ownership of any stock in the company by 1993. Soon after, he was murdered by a hitman in Milan, hired by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani.
Trying to recover from its then-damaged notoriety, investors found a gem in Tom Ford—naming him creative director in 1994. Ford was instrumental in the company’s acquisition of top brands like Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga (the last two in part-ownership with Stella McCartney). By 2001, Ford was also the creative director at luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent.
Ever-evolving, in 2017 Gucci announced its commitment to completely ban the use of fur from any collections by the next year. "Being socially responsible is one of Gucci's core values, and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals,” explained current CEO Marco Bizzarri.
Since 2014 Gucci is owned by Kering and today has gained unprecedented popularity under creative director Alessandro Michelle due to his new designs which include kangaroo fur lined shoes and chic Marmont handbags.
BAMBOO TOP HANDLE
The case-in-point of Gucci’s masterful use of unique materials, the first bamboo-handled bag was produced around 1947 during a leather shortage after WWII. Remaining a staple today, the bamboo handle’s distinctive look has become such an overarching symbol for the brand that it has been translated into perfumes, heels, timepieces, sunglasses and more; plus it has been seen on the arms of fashion icons like Vanessa Redgrave and Princess Diana.
THE JACKIE/THE NEW JACKIE
Aptly named for its biggest, most-fashionable fan, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who owned six variations of this design, the Jackie can easily be spotted with its hobo shape, distinctive push-lock closure and the later-added red & green stripes. In 2009, creative director Frida Giannini introduced an updated, larger version of the classic, called the New Jackie. Offered in striking hues with intricate detailing, its silhouette is roomier and more deconstructed, yet still distinctly recognizable as a Jackie.
Defined by its tiger-head clasp, the Dionysus bag is Alessandro Michele’s creation representative of the Greek god of wine-making & grape harvest, fertility, festivity and theater. A lively yet incredibly artful character, the style is a dichotomy between brand new and classic, using time-honored nods to the brand’s origins with monogram canvas and pairing it with unexpected twists ranging from ethereal golden butterfly, dragon & bee hardware, to Swarovski crystals and all the way to a New York Yankees patch. The endless creativity allowed with the Dionysus allows the customer to purchase an ultra-personalized style—whether they are a fan of timeless minimalism or bright, 70s-throwback color and prints.
At Bluefly, we work closely with trusted partners to continually collect and create one of the biggest, most-exclusive selections of vintage and pre-owned Gucci bags available—and for prices you won’t believe.