House of Gucci: The Logo that Cost a Life

House of Gucci: The Logo that Cost a Life

The film fails to keep the tension between art and action tight despite its starry cast and good lines. It is not “fashion” but it does tell us a few things about logos

Ridley Scott’s newest film, House of Gucci, much hyped of late with Lady Gaga’s red carpet dazzles is soggy penne but gets its chili flakes right. It is an enjoyably mounted film with captivating art directional touches. Yet it drags with petroleum jelly predictability. Not the smirk variety lethargy afflicted by first reading the book by Italian journalist Sara Gay Forden, on which the film is based. But a more rattling one, that makes you slap your posture and ask, why isn’t this damn story moving?

Lady Gaga’s moves as the buxom, ambitious, 25-year-old Patricia Reggiani, with American zircon sparkle in her eyes, who trucks her way through hot sex, clinging zippered dresses, lace corsets from side alley boutiques and obese eyelashes, gives the film its hot chilies.


Lady Gaga as Patricia Reggiani.

The lines are witty and well written. They candidly admit that life is a bitch no matter who gets to wear the logos. The film also packs some good performances. Al Pacino as Aldo, the 50 per cent Gucci who made the logo aspirational in America in the ’80s, who sent original Italian shoes in deep burgundy with the finest leather and a pure gold inner sole to then Hollywood heartthrob Clark Gable. Aldo looks Italian in zest and jest, but angers like an American. Nice.

Jared Leto as the “idiot” son of Aldo, braying around Gucci with his sketches and design dreams is hilarious. He competes fabulously with Gaga’s talent at dressing up a role to undress a character. Leto’s Paolo gets some of the best lines in the movie. They have a likeable mix of “browns and pastels” that he boasts of in his designs.

Then of course, there is Adam Driver. As Maurizio Gucci, the lawyer grandson of the brand’s founder Guccio Gucci. Maurizio sets out—looking like a taller Yves St Laurent in broad rimmed spectacles, checked coats and genial earnestness—to lust, love, lose, love again only to lose everything. Salma Hayek-Pinault (in real life married to Francois-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Kering which holds Gucci) plays Pina, a fortune card reading, spell casting, soothsayer who helps the story stick to misfortune.


(L-R) Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci, Jared Leto as Paulo Gucci and Lady Gaga as Reggiani.

Between the taxing two and half hours that it takes for the palpitating with flesh and fury Patricia to become the makeup-rid, bitter Signora Gucci sentenced to 29 years in prison for murdering her husband Maurizio, what you get is what you set out for. “A sensational story of murder, madness, glamour and greed”—as the blurb reads on the new edition of Forden’s book. Except that Scott forgets to pack sensation into the storytelling.

If you are watching this for “fashion”, you may notice madness for the Gucci logo. The revengeful fight to retain its family origin or the patronising way in which Patricia wears Gucci on her sleeve and in her head as “murder motive”. It is sometimes a bag, a pair of stilettos, a dress or a coat and once a head-to-toe logo embossed outfit. Is Gaga dressed to thrill? No, her costuming in the film is more dressed to trill with bling—from furs to large trinkets—maximalised in ways that you want to tell her take off one of those god awful necklaces if she must keep her sarcastic toxicity on.

Does it give keen followers of Gucci, a fascinating back story with riff and roil? Well, it certainly reminds everyone that luxury logos are not cheap—they can cost lives. Does it bring rare insights into Gucci’s uncannily bright fashion impulse over the years from its first turnaround “are you sure this is a Gucci show” in Milan under Tom Ford in the ’90s (hours before Maurizio’s assassination) to the latest by Alessandro Michele in Los Angeles, where he returns to re-recruit sexy, ballsy Hollywood? Oh no, no.


Driver in a still from the film.

Even as it fails to keep the tension tight between sex and love, filial fondness and fights, inheritance and inheritors, and most annoyingly between art and action, House of Gucci certainly lends branding commentators a good debate. To ask if the film even works as an attention driving vehicle to Gucci the brand in 2021. On the one hand are its slightly downsized profits (its net revenue fell in 2020), on the other, the emerging realisation that Michele’s whimsical design maximalism may not keep Gucci customers going gaga all the time.

Should Gucci under luxury conglomerate Kering promote the film or not? So far, globally the brand has not associated with marketing or promotional gigs. But screenings have been hosted in Delhi and Mumbai by the Gucci India office. India might not be the only exception for the brand to screen the film and let its select guests decide what to make of it. That is a smart move considering the film doesn’t flatter the family that founded one of the world’s most successful 20th Century luxury houses. You may not likely buy a Gucci bag or shoe because you watched this film. But eventually the film has taken you inside its “house” thus nudging a familiarity, an intimacy so to speak which is the ultimate goal of luxury marketing. Not all buying or brand admiration comes from flattering information. Sometimes it rides on a strange mix of love and war.

House of Gucci releases in India on Friday, November 26.