When it comes to heritage houses, the standard was set with Gucci, as they brought iconic luxury together in a way that no one had previously thought. Thanks to Aldo Gucci's vision, the house gave accessibility in a global way as a trailblazer in collaborations, such as Cadillac as well as its focus and fight against counterfeit goods. This month, Patricia Gucci, released, "In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir".
We took a moment to sit down with author and daughter, Patricia Gucci on why she created this book, how her father Aldo would view the heritage of his brand, and what she is up to at the moment.
ATHLEISURE MAG: In reading the book, it started as a journey for you to put together the things that you heard, talked about as well as read from letters between your family. In the end, you note that it was also a means to understand more about how you came to be and to connect with your mother and father in a new way. Now that the book is out, how would you define the purpose of creating this book within your life?
PATRICIA GUCCI: The purpose of the book was to pay tribute to my father and the legacy he left behind - for my daughters and our extended family, for Gucci, and the 'Made in Italy' label. Researching the origins of Gucci as a business and the early days of my parents' courtship turned into one big puzzle and I soon discovered that there were many missing pieces. Conversations with my mother and the discovery of the love letters my father had written to her, helped complete the picture.
AM: Throughout your book, you share a number of roles you had within Gucci from organizing fashion shows, modeling for the brand, visual merchandising and more - can you share all the things that you were able to do within this brand?
PG: I worked at Gucci for 7 years - from 1981 - 1987. I was first tasked with creating window displays in our North American stores, then coordinating fashion shows and representing the company in the capacity of Roving Ambassador in the US and Asia. At 21, I was the first (and last) woman in the family to be appointed to the Gucci Board of Directors.
AM: After the sale of Gucci to InvestCorp, what has been your relationship to the brand and have you done anything on its behalf?
PG: Post the sale of Gucci to InvestCorp I had no further ties with company.
AM: Are you still connected to various members of the Gucci family and what was the process of sharing this book with them?
PG: I have little or no connection with other members of the Gucci family. My half-brothers (only one of whom is still alive) were much older than me - old enough to be my father - and as a result it was awkward to form relationships. Not only are my nieces and nephews older than me, they were raised predominantly in Italy while I lived mostly in the UK, US and Switzerland.
AM: If your father was to see Gucci today from its products, endorsements and other engagements - what do you think he would say?
PG: Gucci today is a success and the brand is one of the most recognizable in the world across any sector, as ubiquitous as Coca Cola. To see his heritage live on like this, with the rhombi design, interlocking Gs and the Gucci loafer still going strong, would undoubtably have made him happy.
AM: Are there currently any Gucci stores in the US - specifically Beverly Hills and here in NYC, that are in the original locations that your father worked on to open?
PG: The Beverly Hills store is still in the same location; Gucci was the very first Italian luxury brand to open on Rodeo Drive. In New York, in the 1950s, there were three stores in walking distance of one another on Fifth Avenue, in what became known as 'Gucci City.' Today, those stores have relocated but the Palm Beach at 150 Worth Avenue remains in its original location.
AM: What was like life during the 10 years that you were unable to work at Gucci, talk about the details etc?
PG: The gag order years were difficult because I had to stand by and watch my father's legacy being swept under the rug. That was painful to see. As with most new regimes, it's often out-with-the-old and in-with-the- new. When my cousin Maurizio took over, it was no exception. In the years that ensued the business took a turn for the worse and it wasn't until Tom Ford was brought in that Gucci was returned to its leadership position.
AM: What is the power of luxury to you?
PG: Private planes - luxury can give the illusion of power.
AM: Gucci was a pioneer in many of its approaches to business including collaborating with Cadillac, having you as the first female board member of the company - what other firsts do you feel it created?
PG: Gucci's collaboration with Cadillac was a significant 'first,' as was the Gucci Galleria, which combined works of art with merchandise in a setting that had never been seen before, earning my father the title of Michelangelo of Merchandising. President John F Kennedy called him 'the first Italian Ambassador of Fashion.' My appointment to the Board of Directors was a first for the family business. For me, the most important first was opening the Gucci store on Fifth Avenue in 1953, effectively establishing 'Made in Italy' as a global brand in its own right.
AM: What brands are "Gucci's in the making" (in your opinion) from the craftsmanship, being made in the place of origin that the company is based in, focus on luxury and pushing the envelope to place itself as a lifestyle and not just an assortment of products?
PG: I doubt there will ever be another 'Gucci in the making.' We live in different times, there is a lot of competition, fashion has been largely commoditised, there is less and less individuality between one brand and another. The Gucci phenomenon of the 1960s, '70s and '80s is unlikely to be repeated.
AM: In addition to raising your family and writing this book, what are you working on or what do you do - do you believe you would return to the issue in some manner?
PG: There are some projects in the works but I can't talk about them at this time. In terms of fashion, although it is unlikely, who knows?
AM: What was your favorite position when you were worked within Gucci?
PG: Definitely when I worked as Fashion Coordinator, putting our shows together and working on the window displays. That gave me the room to express myself creatively and having my father's approval meant the world to me.
A must read for May, "In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir" by Patricia Gucci is available now.
Read more from the May issue