Welcome to Tuscany, where the Gucci headquarters are based in a little town called Casellina, at the gates of Florence. Here Frida Giannini’s beautiful designs come also to life.
Please follow me on an exclusive tour through the bag manufacture:
The first stop is the leather department where the research of fabrics is taking place. When the doors opened, I thought that I had arrived in paradise. Two tables full of the most luxurious materials, from matte crocodile to suede ostrich and colourful python leather. Gucci only uses exotic skins that have a certification to make sure all the guidelines are met.
Crocodile and alligator skins
Matte, rubberized crocodile leather
One of my favourites: The matte suede-effect ostrich leather to the left.
Among the beautiful python samples,…
…I spotted the emerald-coloured one used for my 1973 bag.
The famous interlocking GG started 10-15 years ago with Frida Giannini. Before that time the signature fabric was the one to the right. Frida lives and works in Rome.
One of the most expensive fabrics is still handmade on a wooden loom in a procedure dating back to the 18th century.
It takes the Gucci’s craftsmen one hour to create a maximum of 15cm.
It is truly impressive to see how much work, time and dedication is going into the creation of the right fabrics for a Gucci bag. And all made in Italy!
Next stop is the cutting department where all the important skin materials, such as anaconda, python and lizard, are cut. The artisans have to spend many years working with standard leathers before being allowed to cut noble skins.
The reason is clear: You need lots of skins for an excotic leather bag as the craftsmen have to match the colour and pattern of the skin to achieve maximum beauty. And when it comes to these fine materials, you want to limit the wastage to a minimum.
Third stop: The prototype room. We were not allowed to take photos in there as the Gucci team works one year ahead. My eyes spotted prototypes for 2013 (how exciting!). But I am very sorry, my lips have to be sealed!
90% of the work is done manually in this department. Everything starts with a design. From the paper pattern, the artisans develop a product which after the designer’s, in this case Frida Giannini, final approval will become a sample.
In the prototype room, we were also introduced to the amazing travel trunk which is exclusively done here. Two craftsmen work one entire month on this piece. Design by Tom Ford.
In 2011, ten pieces were done. Among the lucky owners are John Travolta and Jennifer Lopez.
The price for the travel trunk in fabric as seen here is € 30.000 (special order).
Here are the photos of the crocodile version made out of 23 skins for € 240.000. Divine!
Paulo (in front), who has been with Gucci for 38 years, and Marco are the two artisans producing the travel trunks.
Final stop: The room where the iconic Bamboo handles and accessories are produced.
Gucci uses exclusively Chinese bamboo because of its quality. There is still a lot of wastage as it is very important that the bamboos have a fairly regular diameter and that distance between the noses is equal.
Please enjoy the procedure:
1. Choose the right bamboo and smooth it.
2. Bend it with heat.
3. Give it the burnished colour.
4. Cut and finish it.
5. Apply the sealing wax by hand.
6. The protection will help to maintain its shape.
7. Prepare the wholes for the metal parts to be attached.
Once you see all the work going into a bag, you appreciate it even more. The Gucci people are truly dedicated to their work and you can feel their passion for the product which comes with a very high level of perfection.
No, I didn’t need a doctor even that I went into raptures over the Gucci manufacture. Similiar to a science lab: Some of the workers wear white coats embroidered with the Gucci logo.
Thank you, Gucci, for letting me be part of this amazing experience!
Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht