GUCCI: A House Divided by Gerald McKnight

GUCCI: A House Divided

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The plot lines of this hell-for-leather wrap-up on the contentious Gucci clan could have been plucked from one of Judith Krantz's upscale epics. But, unfortunately, British journalist McKnight does not write as well as Ms. Krantz. The leather-goods business that Guccio Gucci founded in his native Florence to cater to the globe-trotting carriage trade survived both the Great Depression and WW II. Indeed, it became a thriving multinational enterprise under the leadership of the patriarch's eldest son, expansion-minded Aldo. The best estimate of the closely held manufacturing/retailing empire's annual revenues is $500 million; premium-priced, top-of-the-line merchandise ranging from handbags, luggage, and slip-on shoes through scarves--all branded with a considerable status symbol, the palindromic GG--accounts for the bulk of volume. In the meantime, notes McKnight in his peekaboo fashion, Guccio's dynastic aspirations have encountered resistance among members of the third generation, eager to go their own way or to wield influence on corporate affairs. Paolo (Aldo's litigious son), for example, has launched a number of legal vendettas, one of which landed his aging father in a federal penitentiary for tax evasion. In like vein, Maurizio (Paola's first cousin) might have effective control of Gucci's worldwide ventures--save for the fact that his kin have accused him of forgery, arousing the show-stopping interest of Italian authorities. Despite access to court records, archival sources, and most of the principals, McKnight has obvious difficulty tracking the ambitions, broken marriages, lawsuits, scandalous love affairs, secret deals, and other bizarre events that comprise the Gucci saga. Nor does he document in any convincing way that the family's unresolved feuds are of consequence. The slipshod text has eight pages of black-and-white photos.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1987
Publisher: Donald Fine