What do you know about Gucci? Or maybe the question should be: what do you think you know about Gucci? Beyond the iconic GG logos, the constant parade of high-profile celebrities dripping in Gucci garb, the bags we recognize on first glance, and the highly possible status as the most well-known and glamorous Italian designer label (go to the most rural parts of China, utter the word “Gucci,” and watch eyes light up) is a brand deeply rooted in its history and tradition.
I received an invitation from Gucci to join a group of online publishers from around the world – four from China, one from Germany, two from Spain, two from France, two from the UK, one from Japan, one from Brazil and moi, the only American blogger in the group! – to attend the Gucci Fall 2012 show in Milan, followed by the honor to spend two days in Florence, touring their bag factory and the new Gucci Museo.
I’ve attended the always-electrifying Gucci show at Milan Fashion Week in the past and jumped at the chance to return (and yes, I was just there. If you are a regular reader, you’ll recall I was in Florence last month to style photo shoots for Luisa via Roma. What can I say? I love Italy!).
As our host, Gucci could not have been more gracious, from the meticulously planned cocktails, dinners, and lunches to the perfectly timed tours (they even allotted free time in our schedule for “shopping!”). I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience but most of all, I treasured the chance to observe the beating heart of Gucci: the bag factory where dreams are literally hand-made.
The “all-access,” three-hour tour included everything from a brief history on the GG logo (it originated as a diagonal canvas print for luggage) to thorough lessons on exotic skins (I even came home with several pieces of crocodile scraps given to me by the craftsmen!) to a course on bamboo-making to induction into a holy space called the prototype room (we were not given permission to take photos – it’s totally understandable that they wouldn’t want images of 2013 bags all over the Internet!), where we witnessed handbag magic in action, watching the craftsmen/women work.
There was so much information given to me, so much interesting history emanating from every inch of the factory that I felt it best to show you through my eyes rather than bore you with a 2,000-word essay – I could easily go on for days. Click below to see the complete pictorial and enjoy the suave Gucci ride.
Photographer: Tommaso Fontanella
We received a thorough lesson on the different types of crocodiles– Gucci uses Australian porosus, African nilo and Alligator mississippiensis. The belly of the animal is used for the body of the bag, and the remnants used for trims, handles, etc. Most crocs used by Gucci are farmed and a few wild caught (those are massive and run 10-15 feet long!)
This sueded ostrich skin was like velvet. I wanted to sleep on it. Lots of metallic treatment on the ostrich as well. The ostrich skin used are all farmed.
This upholster fabric is hand loomed on a machine from the 700′s used to make upholstery for kings, there are only a few left in the world. It takes an hour to hand loom a mere 15cm of this fabric! Talk about labor intensive!
The original canvas was a diagonal pattern on coated canvas made for luggage (see the top left) developed during the war. The GG logo was later incorporated into the pattern. Pigskin, calfskin and leathers are mottled for depth of color and most dyed by vegetal tanning.
Ahhh, the python skins! From South American anacondas to African pythons, the skins are glazed and sometimes painstakingly hand painted.
Precision cutting require intense concentration. One wrong slice and you waste an entire skin. I don’t know how the Gucci “surgeons” were able to concentrate with me hovering over them. Perhaps that’s why they gave me little scraps of crocodile skins– so I would go away.
Gucci only uses Chinese bamboo for its handles (the best they say!) but the plant is not killed in the process. The branch is carefully extracted and the root is left in tact to continue to grow. Great news for tree huggers like myself who worry about Pandas.
Do not try this at home kids! The bamboo is heated before it is expertly bent and hand stained.
I went straight to the Gucci boutique the minute I landed in Milano and bought the green 1970 bag I’ve been dreaming about for weeks! There is something so Italian chic about green and gold, no?
It is not available in the US until the end of March. But you can pre-order on Gucci.com here. I also bought the black and gold scarf at Gucci, souvenirs to remember this amazing trip by!
Hope you enjoyed the Gucci Bag Factory Tour. My tour of the Gucci Museo will be up next week!