The Life and Times of a Fashionista

The book is a fascinating account of how Aldo Gucci built a solid fashion empire, even as his life was mired in controversies.
By Naina Redhu        Print Edition: September 25, 2016
The Life and Times of a Fashionista
In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir By Patricia Gucci PAGES: 320 PRICE: Rs 599 Crown Archetype

Unlike the other Gucci book (House of Gucci), which calls upon a reader's interest in mystery and intrigue, Patricia Gucci's In the Name of Gucci is more a chronological documentation of almost one hundred years of the Gucci family, mainly her father Aldo Gucci, her mother Bruna and her own life. Before you decide that "chronological documentation" sounds boring, rest assured that it isn't. Not in the least.

Patricia, along with co-writer Wendy Holden and their editors, has managed to weave together a page-turner about a family known for its fashion empire. One of the reasons I think she has managed to do this is because of her mix of English and Italian influences. She has kept it 'proper', like the English, but included moments of tender emotions and passion, like the Italians. She has kept the tone neutral but staked claim to her feelings, which is not an easy task in my opinion.

The book ends with the line, "I hope I've made my Papa proud." And from what I have read, I am inclined to say that she has. The tone of the book is respectful, simple and chronological. When Patricia does venture into a territory where she needs to describe an emotionally wrought moment or passionate business tempers, she chooses to keep it short, and not dwell and draw out those descriptions, which I like.

In The Name of Gucci is about Aldo Gucci's life companion Bruna and their daughter Patricia. It also sheds light on how the companys path unfolded along with their lives. There is mystery and intrigue, but that is not the centrepiece here. Interested readers may further pursue that in another book. Patricia has succinctly woven together details of events as they happened and how she believes they affected her parents and her family. From the events that she could not have witnessed in person, she has researched and followed up family connections. For the events where she was present, she has recounted the facts, supported by genuine human feelings.

From recounting Guccio Gucci's true origins as a page at The Savoy Hotel in London to the final days of Aldo Gucci's life, Patricia has done her homework. One of the things that struck me is that women have had to deal with similar treatment across the globe - whether it is Italy or India. Timelines may vary, but there's a palpable sense of being dealt the same hand regardless of geography. Patricia writes how being a certain gender charted the course of the lives of many women in her family.

And what love does to us. Bruna and Aldo clearly had a passionate and loving relationship, but even simply reading about their tumultuous times exhausted me. There were times when I wanted it to stop. I wanted Bruna to stop feeling tortured. Thankfully, theres some of that toward the end of the book, but it is without her beloved Aldo.

If I had to describe this book in one short sentence: bittersweet and well-written.

Readers will also get some rare insights into the early years of the Gucci brand and what made it the powerhouse it has come to be. I would have liked to read more of what Patricia did for the brand, too.

I'm the last person to judge Aldo for his affairs or to judge Bruna for putting up with him. A lot of successful businessmen, in the past decade or so, have also been known for their short tempers and ruthless treatment of employees. Known for and often applauded. I worry that young readers might get the wrong impression.

Even so, there is no denying that the man made mistakes, as did members of his family. Gucci most certainly would have done better as a brand had Aldo stayed at the helm and passed on the baton just as he had intended to. This loss to the brand is irrecoverable, in my opinion.

At multiple times, I pored over the two sets of glossy pages in the book that show photographs of the Gucci family and of some of the key brand ambassadors from its early years. It was a lovely touch to include them in this book, making it more endearing to the reader. To read about the last years of Aldo Gucci was heart-breaking.

To me, the book was a story well told, with the right mix of feelings and facts. Even if you're not a fashion/ luxury reader, I recommend it?if only to read a well-written piece about the man who made Gucci, Gucci.

The writer is a luxury and lifestyle photographer, and experience collector at Naina.co

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