In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir

As someone who has lived and breathed fashion one way or another my entire career – even attending a college whose sole focus are the different components of this ever-changing industry –  it’s always a happy surprise to come across such an astounding brand (like Gucci) and learn things about them that you never knew before. Herein lies just one of the beautiful and groundbreaking components that comes from reading “In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir”. Composed by Patricia Gucci, the love child of the aspirational Aldo Gucci and her loving but distant mother Bruna, the book delivers an in-depth, no holds bar look into the secretive personal life of the man that heralded the “Made in Italy” tagline as well as the creation, success and failures of one of the most famous Italian brands to forever impart their fingerprint on the world of design.

Reading like a one-on-one story telling with Patricia herself, the book was a learning experience to piece together. In fact, she spent four years from conception to actualization conducting an extensive amount of research and utilizing a stack of love letters, interviews with her sometimes less than willing to share Mother and of course her own memories to put together what she defines as “a tribute to her Father.” The tale that comes together in the end is a roller coaster of a not so modern romance – one of which was illegal at the time it took place in Italy – and displays Gucci’s humble beginnings from her Grandfather Guccio saving his money as a page in the 1890’s at The Savoy hotel in London to the expansive empire we know it to be today. And although Aldo’s personal life often took the biggest tole – especially when Bruna became pregnant with Patricia a year into their affair, as Aldo already had a wife and three sons of his own and the two were forced to move from Italy to London and Patricia kept a secret for the first ten years of her life – in the end, Bruna would stand the test of time as Aldo’s one true love and Patricia becoming the sole universal heir of the Gucci empire.

I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with Patricia Gucci and discuss several topics beginning with how her relationship with her mother has evolved from the time before to after writing the book as well as how she handles being a mother of her own and what she wants for her children’s futures.

Your mother seems like a very private person. Was it hard for her to share what often times seem like hurtful and troubling memories?

PA: It wasn’t something she immediately wanted to be a part of and in fact was a bit reluctant to talk about certain things however it was incredible to watch her come to life talking about it all. So many years had passed so it was certainly emotional as she had spent most of my life covering it up. I never wanted to probe into her life and she imparted what she wanted to impart but it was really important to me that she share these memories.
How often did you actually get to see your Father growing up?

PG: Sporadically on weekends I got to see him in London and Rome and he was there on and off when I was in Switzerland. We’d go on holidays of course. The best times were spent at our house in Palm Beach, I look back and those were definitely the happiest times. I always look back and say ‘gosh I never appreciated how lucky we were.’ As I got older and became more involved with the business we of course took plenty of business trips together and I loved being able to spend so much time with him (as his youngest protege).
Having had the childhood and upbringing that you had with your parents, how has that influenced you as a mother yourself?

PG: The one thing that was very important to me as a mother was having stability for my children. I’m always going to be there for them and making sure that they have a balanced family life. Even as life takes you off on twists and turns I’ve always been a hand on mother 24/7 and I still remain that way. In this way I’m quite opposite of my own mother as I’m open to change and can make anywhere my home. My own daughters look to me and I am much more open with my daughters than my mother was especially as I feel I took on both roles (of mother and father) for many different reasons which at times was much harder than anticipated.

How did you feel when you first read your mothers letters from Aldo?

PG: The letters were really what fueled the relationship – it broke down so many of his defenses. They’re hard to read because they’re written in his handwriting – when he wrote these letters you could tell he was writing them with so much emotion and gusto – however it was a revelation to see this man so vulnerable and devoted, imparting wisdom onto my mother. Wanting to open up her eyes to the reality of their situation. For the book they gave me a whole perspective of my father that I had never known before.

From the story you were clearly a child in need of love and attention. Was there bitterness towards your mother at a young age for her distant behavior? Have you come to understand what made your mother the way she was? 

PG: If I have to put my finger on therein point by talking to my mother and me seeing a side to her that I never seen before, more recently she has become a much larger part of my life. This whole process has brought us much more together, opening our communication, and even changing her. Many years after my fathers death she has come to terms with a lot. It was very hard for us to find a middle ground. There were always ups and downs, there was always this antagonism but there isn’t any longer. We share things more and to times together tend to be light and happy. I also now know there were so many things she was dealing with on her own at the time. We all have our histories and it was a huge revelation for my mother to discuss these topics. 

What are the next steps for the company and do you want your children involved as is the tradition laid out within the company?

PG: Gucci is a huge corporation and doing brilliantly well. As the company is no longer within the family (like it’s origins) when it comes to my daughters it’s not up to me. I just try and give them the best baseline (education) and steer them when I can. Ideally I’d love for them to find their own path however what they choose in the end, that is up to them.

 

About the Author

Jillian Magenheim is the Editorial Director and Director of Partnerships for OliviaPalermo.com. She is also a digital media consultant for various fashion and beauty brands. You can follow her thoughts on Twitter @Magenhaz and on Instagram @jillianrose_m