November 16, 2021
Melinda Head

House of Gucci: Gaga Galore

A murderously delicious Ridley Scott ride on the wealth porn bus

The founder of Gucci, Guccio Gucci, and the brand’s iconic logo, which became a hallmark of the Company in the early 50’s

Gucci was founded in Florence, Italy, by Guccio Giovanbattista Giancinto Dario Maria Gucci in 1921. OMG – that is 44 characters!!! Son of a leather craftsman, as a young man Guccio worked as a luggage porter and lift operator at the Savoy Hotel in London where he was inspired by aristocratic hotel guests, and their luxurious luggage and leather goods.  

Open to the public in 2021, you can stay at Savoy’s Royal Suite by Gucci in London, starting at a mere £15,875 per night.

Guccio returned to Florence and, after a stint with Franzi, a luggage manufacturer that supplied royalty and nobility, he started his own leather company with an initial focus on equestrian needs and accessories. Eventually, his sons Aldo (played by Al Pacino), Vasco and Rodolfo (played by Jeremy Irons) joined the business. World War II introduced complexities to the business. Leather was in scarce supply, so woven hemp cloth was developed as an alternative and, later on, pigskin bags with bamboo handles sourced from Japan were created in response to continued material shortages. Fashion-centric Gucci shops on Via della Vigna Nuova in Florence, Via dei Condotti in Rome and Via Monte Napoleone in Milan made up Gucci’s high-end Italian footprint. Next came New York City, the Company’s first (but not last) initiative outside of Italy.  

Influencers (though they weren’t called that at the time) Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and Lady Diana sported Gucci handbags, spreading the demand for Gucci like wildfire. A ready-to-wear collection debuted in 1981, cementing Gucci’s place in the world of high fashion.  

The Jackie Gucci bag

After much infighting, son Rodolfo assumed leadership of Gucci in 1982; the helm was passed to his only child, Maurizio (played by Adam Driver), the following year after the death of his father at age 70. Ten years later, facing financial difficulties in 1993, Maurizio sold his shares of the Company for only about $135 million to Investcorp, a Middle Eastern investment banking firm, and ended the family’s 72-year dynasty, reinforcing an all-too-familiar business principle:

“The first generation builds the business, the second makes it a success, and the third wrecks it.”

One year later, in 1994, an edgy, young American designer, Tom Ford, was brought in to revitalize the lagging Gucci brand. Many credit him with being the savior of Gucci, infusing the brand with a sex appeal that had never been seen before. Scandalous and skin-baring images propelled the iconic brand forward. One famous ad depicts the nearly nude Estonian fashion model Carmen Kass showing a G (for Gucci) she has shaved into her pubic hair to a young man who is suggestively kneeling before her crotch.  

Controversial Gucci pubic hair ad, 2003

In 1995, Maurizio was murdered in front of his office at age 46. Having dumped his wife for a younger woman, Patrizia Reggiani (played by Lady Gaga) hired an assassin to seek revenge before he could marry his mistress, Paola Franchi. Reggiani was eventually arrested, tried and sentenced to 29 years in prison. When asked why she hired a hitman to kill her ex-husband, Reggiani reportedly said: “My eyesight is not so good – I didn’t want to miss.” As a testament to her vindictiveness, Reggiani served her ex-husband’s lover with an eviction order to vacate their exclusive Corso Venezia apartment just 3 hours after Maurizio’s death, and promptly moved there herself.

“I would rather weep in a Rolls Royce than be happy on a bicycle.” (Patrizia Reggiani, ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci)

In 2016, Patrizia Reggiani was released early from prison. She currently lives in Milan supported by an annual stipend from the man she murdered and is known to sport a pet macaw on her shoulder.

Patrizia Reggiani has a unique new way of drawing attention to herself

Gucci is now a sub-brand of luxury group Kering, a conglomerate that also owns Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta. The Gucci brand is currently valued at approximately $15.6 billion.

Now challenge yourself and your friends to our House of Gucci Quiz, by downloading Quizefy from the app store if you haven’t already done so, then see how much you know and Strut Your Smart. Our House of Gucci Quiz is only available today, then it disappears. We’ll be back again every Tuesday with a special blog posted at, along with a new trivia quiz on the same topic as the blog. Don’t forget to follow Quizefy in social media, so we can remind you of upcoming blog and quiz content.

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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