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Designer Profiles

GUCCI

Guccio Gucci founded the House of Gucci in Florence in 1921. Though it made it’s debut as a small leather goods store and saddlery (whose influence we still see today, from the trademark green and red striped webbing, reminiscent of a saddle’s girth, to the metal bit found on the suede moccasin and various handbag styles), Gucci grew throughout the years to become one of the most exalted and sought after labels associated with affluence and luxury.

After Guccio’s death in 1953 and his children – Vasco, Aldo, Ugo, and Rodolfo – took over, Gucci began to expand overseas, opening boutiques in Europe, the US and in the Far East. The famous GG logo (honoring Guccio Gucci with his initials) was also established, and the label began to gain more prominence through exposure of Hollywood starlets and celebrities like Jackie Kennedy.

However, familial disputes and poor business decisions left Gucci in a mere shadow of its former glory by the 1980s, and its future was resting on the shoulders of Rodolpho’s son Maurizio Gucci. Yet with the steady decline despite Maurizio’s efforts, by 1993 the entire company was sold to Investcorp, a company out of Bahrain.

Under Investcorp, the company was renamed “Gucci Group” and a new Creative Director was brought in, the young and dynamic Tom Ford, who created a new line that captivated the critics and brought Gucci back to the forefront of the fashion world. The celebrities returned, and Gucci was once again grazing the red carpet with a vengeance. Tom Ford is responsible for the recreation of the Gucci label and led it back to its glamorous past, and in 2003 when his departure was announced, there was a complete presale of most items in New York department stores and a waitlist began for his accessories just days after his collection showed in Milan.

Today, following Ford’s legacy as Creative Director at Gucci is Frida Giannini, who worked under his creative direction. In 2002 she joined Gucci as Handbag Design Director and in 2004 was appointed to the newly created role of Creative Director of Accessories. In 2005 she was named Creative Director of Women’s Wear, and in 2006 she was also appointed Creative Director of Men’s Wear, making her the sole Creative Director of the Gucci label. Her talent and vision for the label have maintained the revival that Ford established, keeping the Gucci name associated with luxury, class, and sophistication, and it remains one of the top labels in high fashion today.

COACH

Coach started as a family run workshop in a Manhattan loft in 1941, with six diligent artisans using their skills that had been passed down from generation to generation. The inspiration for the first Coach handbag came from a baseball glove, its distinctive markings and the manner in which the leather became supple and malleable with each use. The founder aimed to recreate these same qualities in each handbag, and since then, Coach has kept up with innovations in grain, texture, and colors to keep with up with modern design, but has maintained the same standard of workmanship and material, and this glove-tanned leather remains a Coach tradition as a mainstay of their American story.

Though most famous for their ladies’ handbags, since their debut, Coach has expanded their line to include other accessories for both men and women, including luggage, briefcases, wallets, scarves, sunglasses, key chains, shoes, watches, and home furnishings. Having won itself title of an “affordable luxury” brand has kept Coach profitable even when many of its competitors have been struggling. As an upscale brand that remains true to its standards of quality and elegance and never strays too far into fads, a lofty yet accessible price range, and strategic business and production plans, Coach has taken an American dream and built an accessories empire.

 

CHANEL

The Parisian fashion house of Chanel was founded in 1910 by Gabrielle Bonheur “ Coco” Chanel. The small shop called “Chanel Modes” began selling ladies headwear, but quickly expanded and within a year moved to the upscale Rue Cambon, and it wasn’t long before Coco began her legacy of style with her legendary “little black dress,” tweed suit, and signature fragrance No. 5. In 1913 introduced a women’s sportswear line in her boutique in Deauville, which was an instant success as the world embraced her style and design philosophy of comfort and fluidity with elegance, class, and originality. Shortly after, she opened her couture house in Biarritz, France. It was during the first openings of Chanel stores that the signature logotype double-C (for “ Coco” Chanel) interlocking and backwards facing was trademarked. The 1920s set a standard for Chanel that set it apart from other luxury marks of the time and which we still see strongly represented in its image today, a stronghold of the house that remains timeless. In 1921 Chanel No. 5 perfume was introduced and became internationally popular with high society women in particular. In 1928 Chanel unveiled “the little black dress,” and Vogue deemed it “the new uniform of the modern woman.” That same year, inspired by a trip to Scotland, Chanel designed her first tweed suit.

Coco Chanel decided to go into retirement in 1939, much to the dismay of the world. But in 1944 she came out of retirement to reopen the couture house. That same year she also introduced the quilted handbag with shoulder strap, a bag that dazzled that world and remains a signature piece. In 1957, Chanel received the Fashion Oscar at the Fashion Awards in Dallas, TX, honored as the “most influential designers of the twentieth century.”

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971, but her revolutionary influences will forever remain an inspiration

1983 marks a great change for the House of Chanel. This was the year that Karl Lagerfeld took over as Artistic Director. Inarguably one of the most iconic fashion designers of our time, Lagerfeld has a robust flair and a unique vision, which he brought to Chanel and used to help bring the house a new image. It was under Karl Lagerfeld that Chanel launched its first skincare line, Précision, in 1999, and that same year a travel collection, as well as sunglasses and eyewear. The Luxury Line, launched in 2006, propelled to one of the most desired “it” bags, reminiscent of Chanel’s first most popular quilted bag.

Chanel remains one of the leading luxury brands associated with class and sophistication, and under the masterful direction of Karl Lagerfeld, he has broadened Chanel’s style to include audacious, perfectionist, unique, passionate, and visionary.

 

BURBERRY

Burberry was founded in 1856 in Hampshire, England by 21 year old Thomas Burberry and has since remained an iconic and innovative English label, and has even been granted a Royal Warrant by Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales, a prestigious privilege granting them the right to advertise that they supply their products to the royal family. It was Thomas Burberry who invented gabardine, a durable and waterproof yet breathable fabric that is one of the more popular textiles today. In 1891 an emporium was opened in Haymarket, London, where the company headquarters still stands today. Combining fashion and patriotic allegiance, Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to design the military uniforms for the British officers, and in 1904 they created the trademark Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo. With the rise of WWI throughout Europe, Burberry modified their earlier military uniforms to better suit their soldiers’ needs in warfare, thus inventing the trench coat, which would go on to become one of their most sought after items, further popularized by appearances on the backs of stars in Hollywood cinema. In 1924 the peach, red, white and black checkered pattern known as the “Nova check” started being used as the lining for the trench coats, but it was until 1967 that this became a registered trademark of Burberry check and became more widely used for umbrellas, scarves, handbags, and luggage.

Today Burberry is led by Creative Director Christopher Bailey, and since his arrival in 2001 we have seen the company soar as he reinvented the image of the label by simply taking their divinely classic staples like the ever popular trench and mixing them with an updated look. With a number of various collections, including Burberry Prorsum, Thomas Burberry, Burberry London, Burberry Golf, Burberry House, and Burberry Timepiece, the house has certainly evolved over the years and come to integrate a bit of the old and the new style, with a consistently classy yet modern English look in both their ready-to-wear lines and trademark handbags.