An interview with Patrizia Gucci

Fashion designer, writer and painter

Editorial Staff
May 3, 2007

Patrizia Gucci is daughter of designer Paolo Gucci and great granddaughter of Guccio Gucci, founder of the famous fashion house. She worked for the family company in the international public relations department until 1994, before establishing her own fashion line for the Japanese market, Patti Patti G. A prolific writer, Patrizia has written several books, including Simplicity (2000), Single (2004) and Charme: Diary of a Quasi Irresistible Seductress (2006). Also, since 1993, she has created and organized various painting exhibitions throughout the world.

What was it likegrowing up ‘Gucci’?

 

Well, it was quite a unique family. In a way, the Guccio Gucci company was the real family.I didn’t have a very traditional up-bringing. My father always said that it wasn’t essential for me to marry and raise a family. He encouraged me to have a career and express myself creatively. But I have to say that in reality, the family always supported the men more than the women.

 

This is common in a lot of families, probably. Italy is not very feminist. Perhaps,things have changed slightly as women become more emancipated, but not too much. In Italy, women still don’t get appointed to top positions. Italian women are very smart, but most prefer to have a husband and prepare dinner rather than nurturing their professional lives. On the other hand, most will tell you that they want to be ‘modern’. In the company, though, I had to fight to get ahead and use my talents.

 

How long did you work for the family company?

 

I worked for Gucci for 12 years. The last five, I was in the international public relations department. I was one of the last Gucci’s to work for the company. Now, it’s become a completely public company.

 

Do you feel like something was taken from you?

 

In a way, yes. My father was the first person to develop the Gucci fashion line, in 1975. Before that, the company only produced bags and accessories. He was a very important presence who significantly expanded the firm. When I see the same designs my father created being adopted by modern-day designers, it feels strange to me.

 

They take one of his bags, change the colour and re-launch it as their own. Very few people actually invent anything new and original.

 

What work do you do now?

 

I’m primarily a writer and a designer. My brand is called Patti Patti G, and I create accessories for the Japanese market—like ties, shoes, bags and watches. I also design kimonos, but most of my line is quite traditional. My target customer is in the 25–50 age range, and my lines are not quite high-end fashion, because luxury products don’t have a very large market. Perhaps that’s an area I will develop in the future.I also design glass mosaics for a company in Vicenza. I learned the trade in Istanbul. It’s a very creative process. I mix my colours with my own brushes .And, then, you could also call me a painter. I paint to express the dreamy side of myself.

 

You recently wrote a bookcalled Charme. How would you define ‘charm’?

 

To be charming is to possess a whole variety of qualities. It has to do with things like body language, style and, especially, temperament. Charm comes from the inside and it rises to the surface when you become aware of having that certain type of appeal. In my book, I’ve collected many autobiographical stories about my relationships with male friends or suitors. At a certain point in my life, I realized that I was a woman who had her own brand of charm. Once I understood that, I wanted to share what I’d learned with other women. Charm is something you are born with, but it’s also something you can develop within yourself. There are many beautiful women in the world who don’t have charm at all. Take Monica Bellucci for example: she’s very beautiful, but lacks that certain charisma.

 

What does it take to have charisma?

 

According to the Greek tradition,‘charisma’ referred to someone who had been kissed by the gods. It’s a magnetic temperament. It’s a feeling you get from another person. In my family everybody—especially the men—had great charisma. It was hard not to be attracted to them. They were good-looking, and that helped, but mostly it was their temperament. When they talked to you, you wanted to listen.

 

What values did you learn from your father?

 

Well, I certainly inherited his need to be creative. I’ve designed and painted since I was a child. He taught me the idea of aesthetics and to pay attention to colours and details. He also gave me his ability to be light-hearted and face challenging situations without feeling victimized by them. You’ve got to have a sense of humour in life. He taught me to lead a useful life and to give my all to everything I do. Still, it wasn’t easy to have him as a father. I would recommend him as a great friend. He was a career man who travelled a lot, and he was often distant. Our relationship was probably more Anglo-Saxon than Italian. He was half English, you know.

 

What’s it like to be Florentine?

 

When I travel around theworld and tell people that I’m from Florence, they always say ‘Oh, how lucky you are! Florence is fantastic’. I don’t really realize that. I mean, it’s very beautiful, of course. And living here has helped me develop a real eye for beauty. But it’s not easy to live in a city like this one. The mentality is very provincial—it’s as if Florence has never really grown up. It’s weighed down by too much heritage from the past, and it refuses to become a truly modern city. Still, I’m proud to be Florentine, even if the Florentines are a bit closed and snobbish. Even I will admit to being a bit snobbish, but I’m not close-minded.

 

Why do you say you’re a snob?

 

Well, because I’m a bit selective. I’m quite a choosy person about everything in my life. I reserve the right to surround myself with people and things that I really like. This doesn’t mean that I’m an elitist, though. On a human level, I can meet a people who have no social status, and if they are intelligent and have a good mind, they’ll attract me. I love simple people. My first book was about simplicity. And everyone said, ‘How can a Gucci write a book about simplicity? What does she know about that?’ But I believe in simplicity and consider it very important. It’s essential to understand what you need in life and what you don’t.

 

If you were to describe Florence as a person, what would you say?

 

Florence wears a refined, beautiful coat. Cashmere—not fur, because I’m an animal right’s activist! Florence’s coat is very elegant, but underneath she’s a bit shabbily dressed. She needs to be better cared for. Florence has a difficult, closed character, but she has a lot of talent. She should express herself more.

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