Known for its glamour and expensive price tags, Gucci is a brand that has become an icon of fashion--but there's a gripping story behind it that most people don't know.
In her new memoir, In The Name Of Gucci, Patricia Gucci, granddaughter of founder Guccio and daughter of Aldo (credited with creating the company's international chic couture status) recounts the company's history and evolution into an empire, as well as her own experiences growing up in secret as Aldo's love child (he was already married and adultery was illegal in Italy at the time). The book, which hits shelves this week, has been described as "an absorbing, bittersweet tribute" with a story "straight out of Shakespeare."
Enstars recently got the chance to talk to Patricia about her book, family secrets and what it was really like growing up Gucci.
Enstars: So why did you want to tell this story?
Patricia Gucci: I wanted to know the story quite a long time ago and because of the gag order that was made upon my father selling his shares with the company that bought it, I was sort of unable to divulge for 10 years about a lot of things, especially the fact that after my father died, a lot of his legacy was swept under the rug. So I definitely felt a great need to make things straight and to remind people that Aldo Gucci was the man who created the brand. And I also became a mother and there were many things that happened in my life that sort of took me in another direction and then eventually my daughters grew up.
So it was this dream of mine to write this book as a tribute to my father, then of course, it got developed into a back-up book in some ways because I discovered many things about my mother and her relationship with my father and the beautiful love story that occurred with them.
What takeaway do you hope readers will have from your memoir?
I hope that they will enjoy reading the story of the origins of Gucci and how it started for my grandfather and for my father's vision after my grandfather started the designs and little boutique. And of course the story of our lives, which is tremendous and interesting with the times that my mother and father met were times that were very unusual. Most people wouldn't know what it involved. My father wanted to be with my mother because there was trouble in Italy and my mother took an incredible risk in her life. She suffered a lot because of it. But they had me and that was one of their main goals and they succeeded to be able to overcome all the difficulties that they faced during that time and that's another incredible revelation.
Do you think people will be surprised to discover the story behind Gucci especially since it's such a famous company?
I think it was a time that nowadays people would think, "Well gosh, what was the big deal being a mistress?" It was more about the 1950s-60s that things were very different then. My father was very proud to give me his name the day I was born, but there is definitely an interesting side to a family that has not been told. Unfortunately, there are too many other dramas that were quite negative and impacted the company and I think this is a positive story. It's showing an incredible side to the man that really brought the Gucci phenomenon to the world.
There are plenty people out there (some with famous and accomplished relatives) who also have similar stories of family secrets, but refuse to talk about them. Why do you think that is?
That's an interesting question. Everyone has their own reasons. There was nothing about my story that made me feel like there was something I should be ashamed of or anyone should be ashamed of. And other people maybe don't want to tell or maybe they haven't come to terms with things.
When you were writing your book, did you have any doubts on what to include?
It's always hard to balance emotions and to balance very personal situations. It was like being a surgeon--every single word I weighed the importance and everything comes from truth and love. So I was gentle on certain situations that were quite traumatic to talk about and as a surgeon would be gentle doing precision, that's how I felt with my responsibility.
What was it like talking to your mother about this? Did she have any reservations on what would go in the book?
My mother's a very private person and it was not always easy for her to speak about her life because she had shut that door a long time ago and there were a lot of associations that she didn't want to bring back into her memory. And so it was a bit of a sensitive time and I believe when the time comes she will look back and be very proud of this book.
Since your last name is Gucci, do people assume your life is all glamour and stardom?
Absolutely. And they still do [laughs]. It's another reason why writing this book was a good thing for people to know that even if there's a name or a wealth or you live behind a castle as a royal family or celebrity, everybody's human. And everybody's tragedies and everybody's joys are the same as everybody else's. This kind of brought a sense of humanity. Of course I was lucky and of course I've been privileged, but there were a lot of things that were not really comfortable for my family to go through and this is something you can see when you read the book.
[This interview has been edited and condensed]