Gucci and its classic bags & accessories Featured

LUXOS takes a look behind the scenes to explore the maison's new editions of historic bag designs
by 03 February 2012

There it is, that elegant silhouette, in shiny leather with bright nickel and bamboo detailing. You simply want to hold it, and when you do, you wonder how something so soft and so perfect was ever created. It seems almost unreal, but then again it is a product by Gucci, a brand hallmarked by superb Italian artisan craftsmanship. As with all things precious, there is a unique story behind every unique creation. Let's take a look at the chapters that have defined the House of Gucci.

New materials...
From the day Guccio Gucci opened his doors to the public in 1921, he set the standards for luxury leather goods. Craftsmanship was from the start a fundamental component of his products. However by the late 1940s many materials were in short supply and so Gucci spent some time looking for alternatives with which to craft his products, something that would be perfect (delicate yet elegant) for a lady’s handbag. After some experiments, the choice was bamboo, which could be heated to make it bend. Only the most exquisite leather is selected, it is then dyed, cut and assembled by hand. The curved piece of bamboo was used as a handle for what quickly became known as the Bamboo bag.

Princess Grace was said to have purchased the bamboo bag during one of her visits to Florence. Honoured by her visit, Guccio ordered that a special gift be prepared for her. He summoned famous artist Vittorio Accornero and commissioned an exquisite floral design for a scarf, called Flora. The pattern was the first of its kind as it extended throughout the length of the scarf, without any repetition. In the decades that followed the Flora print was used for handbags and clothing, and it soon became one of Gucci’s trademarks.

Leading ladies from Ingrid Bergman to Lady Diana were spotted with the bamboo bag in different types of leather and fabrics, including the Leonardo and Flora prints.

Recently, the bamboo bag has been re-issued by Gucci’s current Creative Director, Frida Giannini, who revisited this exquisite bag, giving it a more spacious design and new bamboo details. Available in as many variations as you can dream, if you do not find your perfect Bamboo bag, we recommend visiting your nearest Gucci boutique, where you can have one ‘made to order:’ You can talk to one of the brand’s experts, and select your preferred size, principal material (leather or fabric), the type of metal hardware, and personalization if you wish. Within six months of your order you shall receive your very own customized ‘Bamboo bag.’

Practical yet elegant...
By the mid 1950s, a new bag had made its way into Gucci boutiques. Its unique rounded shape, unusual clasp closure and a combination of elegance and practicality made it a highly coveted item. It was immortalized by America’s former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who throughout the 1960s was frequently seen with various versions of the bag. This handbag became known as ‘the Jackie bag,’ and it is one of Gucci’s favourite all-time models.

The Jackie bag was yet another Gucci treasure that Frida Giannini has brought out from the archives for re-edition in an updated version. The result is just as impressive as the original. The 'New Jackie', as it has been called, is slightly oversized, and adorned with tassels and bamboo details. Leather of only the highest quality is meticulously controlled and chosen. Like all things Gucci, it features impeccable craftsmanship. The handles have an unusual type of topstitching, based on Florentine saddlery tecniques. This stitching is performed by hand, creating meticulously-positioned rows of stitching along the edges of the handle to protect the sides. This and the many other subtle details in these Gucci bags make them different from all other comparable products. The 'New Jackie' requires from seven to thirteen hours craftwork, depending on the type of leather chosen.

Special motifs...
During her exploration of the wealth of quality products in the Gucci archives, Frida also re-introduced two legendary Gucci prints, the Diamante and the double ‘GG.’ Going back to Gucci’s early days, when Europe was suffering from shortages in supply, Guccio looked for alternative fabric products in order to continue making his luggage. The new material had to be both attractive and durable. The result was the Diamante, introduced in 1935. It was based on a unique pattern of intersecting lines, all made up of tiny diamond motifs. Later, in the 1960s, the classic double ‘G’ initial motif was launched for the hardware components of bags and luggage. Soon the same motif was combined with the Diamante print, and the result was yet another success story. The double ‘G’ pattern was soon an essential feature of handbags all over the world.

The equestrian motif has become synonymous of the House of Gucci. The horse bit was introduced in the 1950s as a decorative hardware component of handbags and men’s moccasins. This golden or silver detail was very popular, and Gucci’s moccasins became a sensation. They were sophisticated yet comfortable, a perfect fit.

Taking inspiration from the world of riding, in 1975 Gucci presented the ‘Stirrup bag.’ This sleek bag is shaped like a stirrup, hence the name, and it had a rigid frame structure. Its handle is decorated with two small spurs, and the double ‘G’ monogram appears on the closure. The design is highly minimalist yet supremely elegant. It is a perfect example of Gucci’s craftsmanship and the brand's links with the equestrian world.

For the 2011-2012 fall/winter season, Frida presented a modern version of the Stirrup bag. Carefully selecting only the softest calfskin, the glossiest ostrich or the shiniest crocodile, these skins are carefully treated to enhance their texture and color. Python is painted, polished and ironed for a luscious look and feel. Finishing touches include the interior lining and the edge detail. In fact the leather edges are sanded, painted and polished with meticulous care. Frida’s new version is also available in petit size, ideal for cocktails.

Gucci is a brand that has weathered no few storms over the course of the decades, but in 2007, it was named as ‘the most desirable luxury brand in the world’ by Nielsen Media Research. Its products are entirely made in Italy according to traditional crafts standards, and it is one of the most highly coveted brands in the world. It currently has 56 boutiques in 54 countries, and its product areas include men's, women's and children’s fashion, jewellery and leather goods. Its hallmark was, and remains, a quest for excellence. Guccio’s son Aldo neatly summed up the brands approach to the market: “quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.”