Angus’ A-Z of logos: Gucci
In his latest monthly Transform column on the A-Z of logo design, Pentagram partner and creative director Angus Hyland tells us what’s so trendy about Gucci.
Despite regularly falling in and out of fashion, Gucci is one of those fashion labels that continues to have an enduring appeal. Since it was established in 1921, the Italian fashion house has never been far from controversy, with hostile take-over attempts and near-bankruptcy, long-running family feuds and the assassination of Maurizio Gucci (as played out in Ridley Scott's “House of Gucci”).
With modest roots in the Florentine leather goods industry, the accessories company expanded to become a global brand during the post-war Italian ‘Dolce Vita’ period, when it was favoured by stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy (whom the ‘Jackie 1961’ bag is named after). In 1964, it launched a range of belts and buckles featuring the now unmistakable mirrored double G symbol, the initials of founder Guccio Gucci. By now the double G (which had appeared since 1933 in various incarnations of clothing and accessories) had become a key part of the Gucci brand, used as a repeat pattern and also appearing (along with the traditional Gucci red and dark green stripes) on the company’s famous horse-bit loafers.
Things definitely went up a gear when Tom Ford became creative director in 1994, and the logo was further refined. Thanks to Ford’s vision and celebrity following, Gucci became cool again. It was all over the red carpet, and hip-hop artists were singing about it as well as wearing it.
So what makes the Gucci logo so special? Well, from a design angle, not that much. What’s interesting is the way that it acts as a signifier – it’s a unique distillation of every element (history, craftsmanship, art direction, styling, photography, advertising etc) that goes into creating a desirable global brand. The fashion world is fuelled by aspiration, labels and a sense of belonging, and because of this, logos for luxury fashion brands take on a vastly increased significance.
Gucci is not generally the brand of choice for those wanting so-called ‘quiet luxury’ – reassuringly expensive, it shouts conspicuous consumption rather than stealth wealth. However there are times when even the stealth-wealth-loving super-rich tire of spending tens of thousands to look like they shop at Gap. Witness the usually understated Kendall Roy in series three of Succession as he embarks on an evening which is very accurately described as being ‘Too Much Birthday’, having a car-crash of a night and resplendent in a very rare vintage Gucci leather bomber jacket.
Next time, a logo that‘s definitely cool (for cats).
Angus' favourite 'F' logo can be found here.