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Fashion’s geography shifted and expanded to include places like Italy and Spain in the post-WWII era: Vogue published its first International Fashions Issue in 1953. Jet travel, and the lure of la dolce vita, brought many tourists to Italy in search of adventure and product. By 1953 the renown of Gucci was such that a store was opened in New York, and celebrities of the day including Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra were known to be fans. Clothing was added as an offering in 1968, followed by jewelry soon after.
Gucci’s mystique at that time came down to quality and snob appeal. (Clerks in the packed Manhattan store, which closed for lunch every afternoon, were famously icy. “Being frosted by a Gucci clerk in New York is almost a status symbol,” The Atlanta Constitution opined in 1981. ) The brand was indeed a status symbol, one whose value lay not in the trendiness of its products, but in their lasting “rightness.” Gucci owed its “rightness” to a balance of informality and appropriateness. A snaffle of red and green stripe dressed up a loafer, which in turn dressed up a total look.
By the ’70s, the third generation of Guccis had entered the picture, and this is where the drama—and thus the movie—picks up. Adam Driver’s character Maurizio is sent to New York to work with his Uncle Aldo and establish a line of succession. Maurizio’s cousin Paolo, played with gusto by Jared Leto, is fired and then tries to start a line of his own, which sets off a string of lawsuits, not to mention a sub-drama that would eventually lead to Paolo’s father Also being indicted and jailed for tax fraud.
Maurizio’s top dog status was further underlined when his father died in 1983, leaving him his shares and making him the biggest stakeholder. It didn’t take long for Aldo and two of his sons to sue Maurizio, claiming that the signature on the form ceding his father’s shares was forged.