Style to the max: House of Gucci puts everything out there
FILM FASHION REVIEW What: House of Gucci Run time: 2h 38mins Who: Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jared Leto Where, when: Now in cinemas Rating: A mixed bag
Ridley Scott’s most recent movie, House of Gucci, is a disappointment.
The performances range from serviceable to bizarre, the lighting and cinematography are inappropriately dreary for the glamorous production design, the runtime is too long, and for a movie about an Italian family, it really isn’t all that Italian aside from the occasional bit of Rossini on the soundtrack.
However, the movie is still worth seeing as a case study of late-20th century fashion.
House of Gucci takes place from 1978 to 1995, in Italy, the US and Sweden. Patrizia (Lady Gaga), comes into the orbit of Gucci – a well known, if a little old-fashioned, luxury brand – when she meets company heir Maurizio (Adam Driver). Their relationship and then marriage changes the family dynamics, with pressure building on the business’s direction and development. Paolo Gucci (Jared Leto) wants to produce his own design ideas, experimenting with fashion in strange colours and with garish patterns, but his vision is roundly rejected.
Patrizia, Maurizio and Aldo in the film.
Maurizio has an affair and demands a divorce from Patrizia, while working with partners to develop the fashion side – the brand becoming a ’90s trailblazer under the vision of young designer Tom Ford. It all falls to pieces when Maurizio is shot dead, arranged by Patrizia. Today, no member of the Gucci family works for the brand.
Although this is a smaller window of time than a lot of 20th century period pieces, including the previously reviewed 2021 Halston miniseries, there are still plenty of shifts in trends to explore.
The most obvious driver of a change in style and direction comes is Paolo. He is the stand-out of the family, both in terms of his baffling Mario Bros accent and his exciting new style. Paolo’s designs are, to put it mildly, unorthodox: the strange fabrics and mixtures of pastels and browns contrast with the tasteful luxury attire the rest of his family wears and sells.
In terms of the movie’s fashion, Paolo is the most important character, given that his designs most resemble the over-the-top, colourful ’80s fashion that has dominated perceptions of the era. The bulk of the movie takes place during this decade.
Even Paolo’s own wardrobe matches the absurdity of his creative vision: while his father Aldo (played by Al Pacino) is swathed in neutrals and practical outerwear, Leto wears a multi-coloured windbreaker. Although a 21st-century audience can see his style as good old ’80s fare, he is teased for his ridiculousness throughout the movie.
Alessandro Michele’s 21st-century rendition of Paolo’s bold new look
Aldo is far from the only Gucci to be more classically dressed than his son. Maurizio and Patrizia live up to much chicer ideas of wealth. Even Patrizia, who is nouveau riche in a world of old money, maintains her dignity in clean skirt suits and well-kept hair.
Given the timelessness of the sleek, minimalistic ’90s style later championed by Tom Ford (Reeve Carney) and its aesthetic similarity to the other Guccis’ luxury clothing, it can be hard to believe that Paolo once held any power within the business.
However, the maximalist, clashing style created by Paolo is evident in any of the company’s recent collections; the current creative director Alessandro Michele, brought into the company by Ford in the mid ’90s, has stepped in a more Paolo-esque direction with his eclectic, maximal style.
Overall, House of Gucci is still worthwhile, albeit not great. The problem with movies exceeding two hours is that they can scare people away if they aren’t amazing, so if you’re not interested in the subject matter and don’t feel strongly about any of the actors involved, you should probably sit this one out.
But if you’re a fashion enthusiast interested in seeing Lady Gaga in period costumes, you should enjoy yourself just fine.