Early Luxury Visionary
Gucci began producing quality leather goods in 1952. Early products were [as they still are] functional by design, sturdy and well made, but without much of the additional flourishes or technical attributes that we’ve since come to associate with luxury brands in general and also Valentino Garavani. Spike heels and moccasins were the designer’s stock in trade, but it was the coral sandal (a simple leather base construct with colourful pearl-effect strapping and flourishes) that really caught the world’s attention. Early advertorials demonstrate the emphasis: luxury as attainable glamour and – in the case of the sandal – an item to be associated with the jet setting brigade as they traversed Italy’s yachts and beaches in search of relassamento. This is the kind of slant now promoted (with a bigger marketing budget) by Gucci Bags and other conservative premium brands, but ‘luxury’ was a relative novelty to the aspiring classes at the time, the post war revival of Italian fashion coinciding with a European ‘awakening’ of liberated individualism that saw the expression of and beautification of self as something to achieve.
See Also: Types of Shirts & Tops for Women
Shoes have remained the Gucci’s stock in trade through the years, although classic clothing items can be located by searching vintage clothing websites like Vestiaire Collective. Strongly constructed and minimally decorated womenswear (still found in their jackets and leather skirts) mirror the output from the designer’s peak years (the late seventies and early eighties) when the ideal of female sexual power reached a creative zenith (and would help give rise to the supermodel concept, itself a proto-Italian principle that at once made women (not girls) both completely feminine and completely strong.
Helmut Newton’s work for the brand in the 80’s especially emphasizes an overtly heavy, noir-ish tone that draws sharp afternoon lines (but no sweat) to its untouchable models, but that also honours rough working class or seaside backdrops in homage to the fashion designer’s origins. This is not the realm of fancy and carefree design experimentation or complicated fabric interplay.
The likes of Karl Lagerfeld added design flourishes and Armani the inverted V-structure to the MV silhouette during their brief liaisons with the company, but whether you’re currently looking to turn back the clock via vintage items, or with new but classically constructed shoes or a heavy duty coat, or want to aspire cheekily with a studded belt bag or more formally with a faux leather bag, then the choice is ultimately yours. This is a principle of female empowerment that both Valentino’s promoted and helped to progress in their relative heydays, and on that they would both surely still agree, regardless of their respective company’s differing fortunes.
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