How Gucci became one of the most famous fashion brands in the world
The fashion brand founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci is one of the oldest Italian fashion houses in operation today. Like many others, the brand started out as a luggage manufacturer, producing luxury travel goods for Italy’s wealthy upper classes, as well as equestrian equipment.
In 1921, Gucci’s first stores opened in Florence. The boutique in Rome’s luxury shopping street Via Condotti opened in 1938.
Under the direction of Aldo Gucci (son of Guccio), the iconic brand enjoyed worldwide success – an icon of the Italian Dolce Vita. However, following family feuds during the 1980s, the Gucci family was entirely ousted from the capital of the company by 1993.
When Maurizio met Patrizia
Gucci and Reggiani first met when they were both in their early 20s, when they encountered each other at a debutante party in November 1970. Even though the fashion house heir later claimed it was “love at first sight”, his family was less than thrilled about his newfound love.
In Sara Gay Forden’s book House of Gucci (on which the film of the same title is based), Maurizio Gucci’s father, Rodolfo Gucci, described Reggiani as: “A social climber who has nothing in mind but money”. He also labelled her “vulgar and ambitious” and warned his son: “She is not the girl for you.”
Gucci’s and Reggiani’s married life
Despite the Gucci family’s misgivings, family feuds, take-over attempts, near-bankruptcy, a public listing and storybook turnarounds; Gucci and Reggiani married in Italy in1972. They moved to New York, where they had two daughters, Alessandra in 1976, and Allegra in 1981. The Guardian reported that Rodolfo soon warmed to his daughter-in-law once he received the gift of grandchildren, and by 1982, the couple moved back to Milan with their two daughters.
The downhill journey
Reggiani alleges that her marriage started to fall apart after Gucci’s father died in 1983, when Maurizio became a 50% shareholder in the family business. At this time, Reggiani was appointed as Maurizio’s Chief Advisor at Gucci, and reports say that her “constant meddling” led to the emotional fallout.
It was 1985 when Gucci packed his bags, saying to Reggiani that he needed to take a business trip to Florence. The next day, the family doctor approached Reggiani and calmly told her that Gucci had no plans to return.
Going their separate ways
Gucci was quick to find a second love after leaving Reggiani – an affair with an American actor, Sheree McLaughin. According to a Bloomberg report, the two met in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, in 1984 and broke up in 1989. The following year, Gucci met Paola Franchi, whom he had known since childhood and the two started dating.
Gucci’s and Reggiani’s divorce was finalised in 1994 – Regianni was reportedly awarded an annual alimony which exceeded $1.5 million per year.
An ex-spouse’s jealousy and a murder in the family
When Reggiani learned that Gucci was planning to marry Franchi, she was overcome with rage and jealousy. She contacted her friend, Pina Auriemma, who in turn contacted a hotel porter by the name of Ivano Savioni to help her arrange a hit on Gucci.
Reggiani decided to take this drastic step, not just because of her jealousy and resentment toward Gucci getting together with another woman, but also due to his impending nuptials: the new marriage would significantly reduce her alimony.
Ivano Savioni was more than happy to “help” his friend out and got in touch with Bendetto Ceraulo, a pizzeria owner drowning in debt, to act as the trigger man. Naturally, Ceraulo obliged, as he must have been desperate to settle his debts. Savoni also got in touch with Orazio Cicala, who would serve the role of the getaway driver. Ceraulo and Cicala fulfilled their end of the bargain on March 27, 1995.
The plan was executed perfectly, and Gucci was murdered. In 1997, Regianni was taken into custody and went to trial for arranging the murder of her ex-husband. It turns out, Gucci’s father was right about Reggiani all the time!
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