The Gucci Museum in Florence was inaugurated in 2011 on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the eponymous fashion house.
It tells the story of the Italian fashion and leather goods manufacturer, from its early start in the city of Florence to the global biggest-selling Italian brand that it is today.
The museum is located in the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia (Palace of the Merchandise) in Piazza della Signoria.
The Palazzo della Mercanzia was built in 1359 and restored in 1905. It once housed the Court that served to resolve disputes between merchants and members of various Arts guilds in Florence, as evidenced by the presence of coats of arms of major and minor guilds on the palace’s facade.
The Gucci museum contains a permanent exhibition of the iconic pieces of the brand, such as bags, clothes, and accessories, among many others. In addition to a series of contemporary art installations, it contains a library, a cafeteria, a small boutique and the new Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura—a restaurant by a three-Michelin-star chef.
Legendary pieces of the history of the fashion house comprise the horsebit loafer, the handbag with a bamboo handle, and the jackie handbag.
The history of the brand
The Gucci brand was created in Florence in 1921. It is interesting that its founder, Guccio Gucci (March 26, 1881, to January 2, 1953), while working as a porter at the Savoy Hotel in London, had been impressed by the luxurious luggage of the guests and by luggage by companies such as H.J. Cave & Sons, and became inspired to create the first collection of luggage.
When he returned to Florence, Gucci and three of his sons started their own workshop.
For many years, Guccio Gucci worked in his leather shop in Florence, which was increasing in popularity. In 1923, the first brand of the fashion house reported only the name of the founder in the calligraphy character, probably derived from his signature. In 1929, the logotype also reported the initial episode of the founder’s name.
From the experience of working abroad in 1934, the brand of the delivery boy was introduced with a suitcase and a travel bag. In the Thirties, many of the Italian customers were aristocratic and had horse racing as a hobby. As such, their requests for riding clothes pushed Gucci to develop his exclusive icons: the miniature of the horse bite, consisting of a double ring joined by a bar, and the green-red-green weft tape that incorporates the traditional saddle girth.
In 1938, Gucci expanded his business to Rome.
In 1951, Gucci opened their store in Milan, and two years later, the company expanded overseas with the opening of the Manhattan store.
The existing brand, in 1955, replaced a knight in armor, always with a suitcase and a travel bag integrated into the coat of arms in a game of revisitations, in which the Florentine Middle Ages, citing the alleged descent of saddlers of Renaissance nobility, is established with worldly contemporaneity. In the shield, above the knight, a rose and a rudder are depicted to symbolize the family’s fervor and entrepreneurship, respectively.
In 1960, Aldo Gucci, one of the three sons of Guccio, designed the symbol with the two crossed “G”, a clear reference to the initials of the founder. This graphic sign, which had not yet become the company’s trademark, was repeated in different styles: fused in a circle, opposed, inverted, and in an abstract form. In 1971, the logotìpo was composed with a graced character, while it was not until 1992 that the symbol of the double “G” officially appeared in the company mark, until then used only as a label on bags, shoes, and belts.
It is with this brand that the company presents itself in the world as a distinctive expression of “made in Italy.”
Eclectic, contemporary, romantic, Gucci products represent the pinnacle of Italian craftsmanship and are unsurpassed in their quality and attention to detail.
Influential, innovative, and progressive, Gucci is reinventing a wholly modern approach to fashion. Under the new vision of Alessandro Michele, appointed creative director of Gucci in January 2015, the House has redefined luxury for the 21st century, further reinforcing its position as one of the world’s most desirable fashion houses.
Gucci is part of the Kering Group, a world leader in apparel and accessories that owns a portfolio of powerful luxury and sport and lifestyle brands.
Several celebrities have chosen this brand and have thereby helped to make it unmistakable, including Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, and Maria Callas.
The Gucci Museum in Florence
The three-story space is arranged thematically rather than chronologically to allow the pleasure of dipping into all sorts of wonderful displays of Gucci craftsmanship.
Divided into a series of themed rooms, the museum narrates the House’s vision while celebrating the archives, including old advertising campaigns, artisans’ images, and retro objects.
The permanent exhibition space begins on the ground floor, where the theme Travel fills a large room with trunks, suitcases, accessories, and articles created for the international jet-set whose custom helped to bring international acclaim to Gucci in the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies.
The first floor is dedicated to the representation of some themes and icons.
In 1966, Princess Grace, accompanied by her husband Rainier, Prince of Monaco, visited the Gucci’s Milan store. Rodolfo Gucci decided to create the most beautiful floral scarf for the Princess and asked the famous illustrator Vittorio Accornero to make an original design for her. This was how Flora was created, from the Flora World, from handbags to evening dresses, with some of the fascinating creations designed for VIP participating in prestigious events.
But the Gucci Museum also stands for contemporary art: a Contemporary Art Space is in fact located on the first floor, hosting temporary exhibitions in collaboration with the Pinault Foundation. The adjacent room features video and film of “movie art,” as well as screenings of the two landmark films that Gucci has helped to restore.
The exhibition of the permanent collection continues on the second floor with Logomania, a space chronicling the evolution of the double G monogram.
These involve not only dresses and accessories, but also silver glasses, picnic baskets, and lamps bearing the Gucci logo.
The last room is dedicated to the Bamboo handbags.
One of Gucci’s artisans’ most subtle innovations was burnishing cane to create the handle of the new Bamboo Bag. An ingenious example of “necessity as the mother of invention,” which is still assembled by hand with the same manufacturing techniques used by Florentine artisans in the late ’40s, requires 13 hours of work.
On the ground flour, the Gucci museum also has a great Caffè/restaurant, an Icon store, a bookshop, and free wi-fi social area that not only welcomes guest into the museum, but also provides a meeting place for Florentines and city visitors.
This post was originally published on October 26, 2013, and has been updated and enriched on May 14, 2018.
Pictures by Visit Tuscany, www.viaggimarilore.wordpress.com and by www.gucci.com