The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed by Sara Gay Forden
Published by Custom House
Publication date: October 9, 2001
Genres: Non-fiction, Biography, Business, fashion, History, Pop culture
I’ve been having great luck with nonfiction recently. Part of it is due to a slew of well-written books, but I also seem to be getting better at knowing what kind of non-fiction works best for me. While I might like to read meaty history about places and people I know nothing about, let’s be honest…I’m too superficial. I like juicy narratives on subjects that interest me. Which why I’m back with a fun one: House of Gucci by Sara Forden.
Fun may not be the best word because the subtitle for this book is: A True Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, but you know what I mean. In case you don’t know, Gucci is an iconic brand in the fashion world. Founded by Guccio Gucci in the early 1900s they went from being tanners to producing handbags before becoming a fashion house known around the globe for clothes, shoes, and perfume. Along the way, the family fought, sued each other, cheated, and ultimately, murdered. In 1995 Maurizio Gucci, Guccio’s grandson, was killed outside his office in Milan. It was a tragic end to a family that had once ruled fashion.
It all started when Guccio decided to expand his family’s business. Rather than simply selling their fine leather to manufacturers, they would make their own handbags. After meeting with success, he brought his three sons and his only daughter into the business.Each of them grew Gucci in a different way, as did their children. By the 1970s Gucci was in America and Japan, growing into new markets and segments. By the 1990s, they’d been ousted from the company they created.
House of Gucci is fascinating reading in so many ways. There’s the whole aspect of generations of one family running a business. After Guccio died it was revealed that his will stipulate the business could only be inherited by a male heir. His daughter was cut out, even though she provided funding when they were near bankruptcy. This is only the first instance of the dream of family unity and legacy turning sour. By the third generation, Guccis will be fighting Guccis for control. Money will be stolen, taxes left unpaid, Guccis indicted, all while the brand lived, died, and was resuscitated repeatedly.
Whether you’re a true crime aficionado, love the history of fashion, or just enjoy dysfunctional families, House of Gucci has something for everyone. While some sections of the book run a bit long, the lavish lifestyles, brazen questionable behavior, innovative thinking, and determination to create something unforgettable still make for great reading.
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