Style, scandal and sex – House of Gucci is guaranteed to satisfy fashion and film aficionados and is just the sort of fashion fiesta needed on an autumn evening …
WHAT? The official MGM trailer for House of Gucci, which spans three decades and dives into the twelve year marriage between Maurizio Gucci and Patrizia Reggiano, is set to Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams. In it Lady Gaga, swathed in fur coats and diamonds, teases as the “Black Widow” Patrizia Reggiani. She purrs in a Milanese accent, perfected over the last three years of method acting: “I don’t consider myself a particularly ethical person, but I am fair.”
It’s fair to say that last night’s London premiere to which Lady Gaga wore a purple gown from Gucci’s Love Parade collection by Alessandro Michele, was a tantalising prelude to the actual film. Accessorised by Tiffany & Co jewellery, fishnets and her signature death-defying heels, Gaga stole the show and seems set for an Oscar nomination.
WHY? Sara Gay Forden’s best-selling epic, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed – the basis for director Ridley Scott’s film starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver – is the definitive, behind-the-scenes chronicle of the shocking 1995 murder of Maurizio Gucci, orchestrated by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani. She paid a hit man, Benedetto Ceraulo, a pizzeria owner, €300,000 to murder 46-year-old Gucci who at the time of his death had left her for another woman. The reason? Aside from jealousy, she was worried that her daughters’ inheritance would be at risk if he remarried. The book is a portrait of a marriage and at the same time an exposé of the rise, fall, and rise again of one of the most glamorous labels of our time. The movie tie-in edition, updated with a new Afterword is available from tomorrow, November 11.
Originally published in 2000, Forden had a unique vantage point. As Bureau Chief and Business Reporter for Women’s Wear Daily in Milan from 1993-1999, she reported on the inside story of Gucci’s struggles and successes. During those years, she wrote about the transformation of other Italian family-owned luxury labels, including Armani, Versace, Prada and Ferragamo, into mega brands. The Gucci story emerged as the epic family saga. Forden conducted more than 100 interviews with Gucci family members, friends, executives, employees and competitors, travelling to Paris, Switzerland, London, New York and Tuscany, among other places for source material. She was in the courtroom for the most jaw-dropping moments of the trial of Reggiani, with whom she had a jailhouse correspondence that retraced Reggiani’s early love and later conflicts with Maurizio. The House of Gucci captures the culture, the times, and the people that shaped the fashion house from the day Guccio Gucci opened his modest leather goods shop in Florence in 1921 to the present.
HOW? Director Ridley Scott worked with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and production designer Arthur Max to bring the sordid tale to life. Central to the success of the film is the role of costumer designer Janty Yates, who first heard of the project over six years ago from Scott’s wife Lady Giannina Scott. Yates, who won an Oscar for costume design on Gladiator, has worked with Scott before on American Gangster and All the Money in the World.
In all Yates had to create 1,000 outfits for the film’s 85 actors, including Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino and Jared Leto. Fortunately, she had access to the Gucci archive – Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri gave the production company total freedom. “They had rail after rail of the most wonderful costumes. It was very exciting.” Yates has described this (pre-Tom Ford) era as essentially “round and brown.” Her biggest inspiration, says Yates, was Maurizio Gucci. “He dressed at the best shops, the trendiest shops. He had the most wonderful clothes – I heard about his rose-coloured velvet suits, his boots that lasted for 30 years that were glorious – cowboy boots, which you don’t get in England.” She describes Adam Driver, who plays Gucci as “an absolute shoe-in for Maurizio – tall, elegant”. In total she created 35 suits for him.
However, with 85 actors to dress, including Al Pacino, who plays Aldo Gucci, the brand’s chairman, she also had 15 suits made with the help of Zegna and her former tailor Len Logsdail, formerly from Savile Row. For Jared Leto, who plays balding Gucci vice president Paolo Gucci (in a fat suit), she had Naples-based tailor Cesare Attolini make his signature checked suits and stripe shirts, inspired by Yves Saint Laurent apparently. He also wore vintage Gucci green and tan loafers. Leto, of course, is a recurring muse for present Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele.
WHO? Yates’ biggest accomplishment was creating between 75 – 100 looks for Lady Gaga, (whom she nicknamed LG) never repeating a look, nor an earring. Yates says she shipped an entire “closet for Gaga” to LA prior to filming. Speaking to The New York Times, Yates remembers LG’s “assiduous” commitment and attention to detail – from make-up to wigs. “We bought off eBay and Etsy, we had access to Gaga’s archive, which is enormous. It’s slightly outré for what we were looking for, but she was so kind, generous, and helpful, all the time. She’s very on it. She’s going, ‘I’d like to wear this,’ but I’m going, ‘it’s not period correct,’ but it doesn’t matter because it’s so insular. It looked great. “
Accessories were sourced from Out of the Ordinary Vintage in London, Boucheron and Bulgari as well as accessory brand Tudor, who created a specific watch. On set Gaga has been spotted wearing a vintage Burberry trench as well as costumes from Celine, Valentino, Ungaro, Alaïa and Max Mara.
In real life, Reggiani dressed “like a Christmas tree” and had the nickname of “the Liz Taylor of luxury labels.” (Reggiani once quipped “It’s better to cry in a Rolls-Royce than to be happy on a bicycle”). In happier times Gucci and Reggiani were a jet setting power couple who had homes in New York, Milan, Acapulco and Switzerland. Translated to the screen that means lots of sunglasses, fur coats, sequins, gold chains, pearl bracelets, clip-on earrings and Cossack hats. It’s the 1980s brought to life: Dynasty meets Princess Diana. Yates said she had actress Gina Lollobrigida in mind for Gaga’s style and that her favourite costume was the wedding dress which she calls “a labour of love”. For inspiration, Gaga wanted to embody elegance, specifically her mother Cynthia Germanotta. “Gaga’s mother is an elegant Italian woman who’d wear something, just to shop,” says Yates.
WHERE? We’ll have to wait until November 26 to watch House of Gucci in cinemas. The issue date falls in line with the house’s 100th anniversary (and Thanksgiving in the US). No doubt the film will further stoke Gucci’s sales which have been soaring above pre-pandemic levels amid the brand’s third renaissance in a century.
But what do the Gucci family make of it? According to The Associated Press, Patrizia Gucci, a first cousin once removed of Maurizio had appealed to director Scott for more clarity on the scope of the film, but to no avail. “We are truly disappointed. I speak on behalf of the family,” Gucci told The AP. “They are stealing the identity of a family to make a profit, to increase the income of the Hollywood system…. Our family has an identity, privacy.” It wasn’t the depiction of Maurizio’s murder that worried her, rather the portrayal of her father Paolo (played by Leto) and her grandfather Aldo (played by Pacino). “My grandfather was a very handsome man, like all the Guccis, and very tall, blue eyes and very elegant. He is being played by Al Pacino, who is not very tall already, and this photo shows him as fat, short, with sideburns, really ugly. Shameful, because he doesn’t resemble him at all,” she said.
Patrizia, who served 18 years of her 26-year sentence and was released in October 2014 (she kept a pet ferret Bambi as a companion in prison), has been quoted as saying she was annoyed Gaga had not reached out to her, prior to filming. This was deliberate. A consummate method actor Gaga stayed in role for nine months and told Vogue: “I only felt that I could do this story justice if I approached it with the eye of a curious woman who was interested in possessing a journalistic spirit so that I could read between the lines of what was happening in the film’s scenes. Meaning that nobody was going to tell me who Patrizia Gucci was, not even Patrizia Gucci.”
AND? If you are inspired by the film’s style and want to source original pre-Tom Ford and Alessandro Michele era Gucci, it will take commitment and investigation. Vestiaire Collective, 1st Dibs and Esty are good places to start for red-and-green striped hobo bags (for authenticity inside the handbags the logo should appear in script not the serif typeface). Of course, you can always buy the reissued Diana and Jackie bags (at Brown Thomas Dublin). However, emulating the look is easy with some key accessories and wardrobe basics. Follow this link to see how you can get the House of Gucci look …
Pictures via House of Gucci movie in cinemas November 26.
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