The History of Gucci Fashion

The enduring brand celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2011 and shows no signs of slowing down.

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As is the case with many European luxury goods companies, Gucci’s humble beginnings originated as a handmade leather goods and luggage company. In 1921, Guccio Gucci built his brand upon a foundation of artisanal craftsmanship. Today, the Florentine fashion house’s enduring legacy seamlessly blends heritage and tradition with modernity and major sex appeal.

History Lesson

According to the company website, initial collections were predominantly equestrian-themed, catering to Gucci’s aristocratic clientele with a love of horseback riding. The interlocking "GG" logo was created in the 1960s. The ready-to-wear segment began in the 1970s, with the first runway show presented in 1981. Gucci became a public limited company in 1982; in 1999, the company joined the illustrious multi-brand luxury group Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, or PPR.

Creative Directors

Since the mid-1990s, whether charismatic or controversial, creative directors at the helm of ready-to-wear collections have not only become trend-setting fashion innovators, but also served as brand spokespersons. When Tom Ford was appointed Gucci creative director in 1994, he remastered and remolded the Gucci image with his provocative, confident, tailored designs, delivering a decade of ultra-sexy collections. In 2005, Frida Giannini shifted from accessories to creative director after Ford left the company.

Iconic Gucci

Gucci has featured everything from women’s, men’s and children’s apparel to accessories, eyewear and beauty. Successful fragrance launches have included Flora, Guilty and Envy. Two of Gucci's most iconic brand hallmarks are the rounded Jackie handbag named for then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and first popularized in 1961, with a relaunch in 1999, and the Flora print designed by Vittorio Accornero and commissioned especially for Grace Kelly in 1966.

Philanthropy & Celebrities

The Gucci brand has long nurtured relationships with French and Hollywood royalty. With a celebrity clientele that seems a million miles long, the company has dressed and accessorized some of tinsel town’s most noteworthy, from Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli to modern day sirens Angelina Jolie, Mary J. Blige, Jodie Foster and Salma Hayek. Beyond the glitz and glamour of an enviable industry cachet, Gucci has proven to have a heart of gold, contributing $1.7 million between 2006 and 2011 to Martin Scorsese’s nonprofit The Film Foundation, which preserves and restores classic films. Gucci also committed $9 million from 2005 to 2011 to UNICEF, helping orphans and children affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

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