The heiress to the Italian fashion house unfurls her combustible family history.
“A reserved child who’d had to grow up fast,” Gucci was born into an elite, high-profile familial legacy. As her candid memoir details, her father Aldo’s relationship with her mother, Bruna, was shrouded in secrecy and controversy. The author describes the company’s ascent to greatness by way of her grandfather, founder Guccio, and her father, who “transformed his father’s small Florentine luggage company into a global phenomenon that came to epitomize Italian chic.” Aldo’s death in 1990 left Bruna mired in grief, and her relationship with Patricia slipped deeper into estrangement. Yet two decades later, saddled with two failed marriages, the author began writing as a cathartic attempt to both connect the missing pieces of her parents’ complex romance and to afford Aldo his “rightful place in history.” Referencing a cache of her father’s love letters to her mother, the author explores the precarious evolution of their illicit courtship, from their budding attraction when Bruna was a teenage Gucci salesgirl in Rome to the author’s hushed birth (Aldo was already married with children, and Italian law forbade adultery). Treating Bruna as his common-law wife, Aldo raised his daughter lovingly if sporadically, shuffling her between England and Italy. Gucci describes him differently at alternating points throughout the memoir. As a fashion figurehead, he was a “trailblazing businessman of extraordinary dynamism,” yet as a father, he was the infrequently present “handsome daddy with the ready smile and distinctive cologne who flew in and out of our lives with a blast of movement and noise.” As solemn as many of her memories are, Gucci imparts these emotions with impassioned, poetic prose that buffers much of the hollowness of her restless childhood. Once jailed for tax evasion, Aldo watched the business suffer through tragedy and further familial betrayal as his daughter struggled to emerge from a cloistered life in the shadows of a fashion empire.
An absorbing, bittersweet tribute.