Ridley Scott’s film about the murder of the ex-boss of the firm’s founder is a boon for designers brands. What makes murder profitable for business? It is when it is made into a Hollywood movie for one – and when Lady Gaga stars in that movie. The House of Gucci feature by Ridley Scott, which was released last week to mixed reviews has sent interest in the Gucci brand soaring.
Searches for Gucci clothing were up 73% week on week, according to e-commerce aggregator Lovethesales.com on Friday, with a leap of 257% for bags and 75% for sliders. These figures show that luxury brand Gucci stands to benefit from Hollywood’s portrayal of the story of Patrizia Reggiani who hired a hitman to kill her husband Maurizio Gucci in 1995.
After a delicate dance between Gucci’s owners and the film-makers pays off. Officially Gucci provided MGM/Scott Free Productions with a limited selection of original items from its archive. This allowed the production of a scene at the main Gucci store in Via Condotti (Rome).
Gucci didn’t endorse the film in any way, but it stars Salma Hayek, wife of Francois-Henri Pinault, the chairman and chief executive at Gucci’s parent Kering, and Jared Leto, brand ambassador and friend to Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele.
A recent catwalk show was also held by the brand in Los Angeles. It closed down Hollywood Boulevard near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. This tribute paid tribute to Hollywood glamour through the decades.
Now that the film is out, Gucci has started posting photos of Gaga as Reggiani via social media. Julie Zerbo, a Fashion Law analyst said that “it can go either way.” “Versace wasn’t involved in Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story about Gianni Versace, but it was pretty obvious from the outset that Gucci wouldn’t push back because Pinault’s wife is in the movie.”
She said, “The movie leads with a fashion perspective so Gucci uses it to inject their own story even if they weren’t as involved in filming as they could.”
But this has not pleased Reggiani, the Milanese socialite who served 16 years in prison for arranging the murder and who said in an Observer interview in 2016 that she had “slept a lot” during her incarceration. “I took care of my plants. She added, “I looked after Bambi my pet ferret.”
Sara Gay Forden, the author of the book that inspired the film, said in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar: “Here was someone who had lived in the heights luxury but was very much alone. She was an outsider in Milanese elite society. She found a sense of humanity in prison that she didn’t feel in her previous life.”
Reggiani made it clear that Gaga – Stefani Germanyotta – was “rather upset” at her for playing the role “without having the consideration and sensibility of coming and meet me”. She said it was a question of good sense and respect.
She continued, “They need me,” in La Repubblica. “I feel like Gucci, in fact, I’m the most Gucci among them all.”
Gaga, for her part, said that she “lived” for Reggiani for a year, and spoke with an Italian accent for nine months. “I never broke. I stayed with her,” Gaga said in November’s Vogue. “Nobody was going tell me who Patrizia was. Not even Patrizia Gucci.”
The film has had broadly positive reviews, with the .Guardian .calling it a “fantastically rackety, messy soap opera… rescued from pure silliness by Lady Gaga’s glorious performance”. Tabboo, a New York artist and a head-to-toe Gucci lover Tabboo! Tabboo said, “I loved it!”
Zerbo said that Hollywood and fashion have more to do with Hollywood than New York. Brands can reap the benefits of engaging, even if it’s not, by increasing awareness and desireability.
The Gucci family’s attempts to bring legal action are unlikely to succeed. Last year the former stockbroker Jordan Belfort sued the production company behind The Wolf of Wall Street,claiming he would never have sold the rights to his memoir to the producer if he knew the film was allegedly funded with dirty money from a Malaysian government-owned company.
Zerbo said that it was better to be famous than not. “I think that The Devil wears Prada actually raised Anna Wintour’s image to a large extent. Many people left that film knowing who Anna Wintour is.” Prada went public several years later, adding billions to its value.