The history of a fashion house is often surpassed by its reigning creative director's vision. This can be a saving grace or a calamity for the brand's heritage, Balenciaga being a prime example of the latter. Gucci is an Italian luxury house rebelling against this with a history which all but transcends its creative direction. This predominately thanks to the recent biographical crime drama film, House of Gucci which sought to bring its history to the masses. Despite a harshly critiqued performance, the biopic was successful in the widespread depiction of the brand’s story. Today we dive deeper into this history by exploring the iconic bag eras at Gucci, minus the drama and poor Italian accents.
Bags and accessories are integral to the DNA of every fashion house, however biased that may be coming from Designer Exchange. The hand-held accessory breathes the life and creativity of the designer all around the globe. Often so much so the item becomes a symbol of status and social currency with the latest it-bag being a form of worship for the fashion community. Achieving it-bag status has been a rudimentary activity for Gucci since its inception in 1921. Each era of the Italian fashion house birthed a designer bag adorned by the celebrities and it-girls of the time. Below we reflect on our favourite bags of each Gucci era.
1. The Bamboo Handle 1940s
When a craft turns crafty. Upon evolving from luggage connoisseurs to the fashion world, one of the first bags Gucci designed featured the now iconic bamboo handle. Although synonymous with the brand heritage today, the design was originally created out of a scarcity of leather due to a trade embargo placed on the material. Despite the sparse story behind the creation, the bamboo handle was a success and is a house staple today.
2. The Horse-bit 1950s
The equestrian-influenced design was inspired by Guccio Gucci's time spent working in a London hotel, where he revelled in the culture of English horse racing. The embellishment further encapsulated the heritage of the brand as esteemed saddle makers. Today it is a symbol of all that is Gucci and can be found on handbags, shoes and clothing.
3. The Jackie 1960s
This curve-shaped, horse-bit locked design debuted under the name Constance but upon becoming Jackie Kennedy Onassis' most coveted accessory, the luxury house rightfully adjusted the title. The influence of the style icon was unprecedented and the Jackie is on every fashion aficionado's wish list still to this day.
4. Tom Ford's Sex Appeal 1990s
The appointment of Tom Ford as the creative director of Gucci in 1994 was transforming. In his decade reign, Ford successfully combined heritage with sex appeal and revolutionised the house. The American fashion trailblazer infused the house DNA, such as horse-bit and structured designs with a modern, flashy and fun allure.
4. The Eccentricity of Alessandro Michele 2010s
Gucci's most recent creative venture was with Italian fashion designer Alessandro Michele. While Tom Ford brought sensuality, Michele's designs exuded a natural idiosyncratic talent. Despite Michele's unconventional success at Gucci, the designer stepped down as the creative director in late 2022. Sabato De Sarno has taken Michele's place, with the fashion community awaiting his debut in the coming months.
If you have your sights set on a Gucci bag it is safe to say that it will be a timeless investment, regardless of the era. Shop the full selection of preloved Gucci from Designer Exchange here.