From modest beginnings at the end of the 19th century, the Gucci company became one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of high-end leather goods, clothing, and other fashion products.
As an immigrant in Paris and then London, working in exclusive hotels, young Guccio Gucci (1881–1953) was impressed with the luxurious luggage he saw sophisticated guests bring with them. Upon returning to his birthplace of Florence, a city distinguished for high-quality materials and skilled artisans, he established a shop in 1920 that sold fine leather goods with classic styling.
There were seventy-six Gucci stores around the world in 1997, along with numerous licensing agreements. Ford was instrumental in the process of decision-making with De Sole when the Gucci Group acquired Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, and, in part-ownership with Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga. By 2001 Ford and De Sole shared the responsibility for major business decisions, while Ford concurrently directed design at Yves Saint Laurent as well as at Gucci.
In 2005, Frida Giannini was appointed as the creative director for women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, previously joining Gucci in 2002. In 2006, she also became the creative director for men's ready-to-wear and the entire Gucci label.
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