Gucci's Fashion Evolution
Smart suits with single breasted jackets, unbuttoned blouses and every season a ‘signature’ handbag; these are some of Gucci’s mainstays. Their other forte – the sexy party dresses and high heeled kicks that, in the 1990’s could hardly come from anywhere else. The decade that Tom Ford was appointed Creative director of the Italian brand became utterly dominated by his vision, one that can be summed up in three letters: sex. His velvet trouser suits teamed with silk blouses (a reference to 70s glamour power house Halston) and his daring, cutaway dresses screamed seduction and teamed with his increasingly risqué ad campaigns, most notably for (another brand in the GUCCI stable) - YSL’s Opium perfume featuring a naked Sophie Dahl reclining in an ecstatic pose made sure Ford’s brands were rarely off the front pages, let alone the fashion sections of newspapers and magazines the world over.
After Ford’s sensational departure from Gucci, accessories designer Frida Gianni took the design helm of the company, setting in motion an evolution towards a more elegant, less overtly sexy aesthetic. Her collections are praised for their accessibility, and successful reinterpretation of archive pieces which keep Gucci’s customers spending, while imprinting her own style on the superbrand’s identity.
Like several of fashion’s other biggest brands, Gucci started life as a humble handbag shop. Guccio Gucci opened a leather goods shop in his native city in 1921, and by the 1930's his accessories and bags, distinguished by the horse bit and stirrup motif, had became quite the fashionable thing. Over the next 30 years Gucci and his sons; Rodolfo, Aldo, Ugo, and Vasco—cemented the brand's international prestige with the introduction of its iconic bamboo-handled bag (still in production today), green-red-green webbing, and logo of interlocking G's. Gucci-wearing style setters like Jackie O and Grace Kelly added to the brand’s prestige. The brand began to lose money in the 80s and 90s after rapid expansion into the far East which is where Tom Ford made his move into women’s wear, increasing Gucci sales by 90% in a single year, 1995 – 1996 not only saving it from impending bankruptcy, but transforming it into a global commercial phenomenon.