This is what the newly-opened Gucci Archive in Oltrarno district looks like
We take you inside the immense historical archive of the fashion house founded 100 years ago in Florence. Our exclusive experience at Palazzo Settimanni in the Oltrarno district
Florence, the cradle of Italian-made products and Italian fashion, will now have an important addition to this incredible story linked to the genius of its craftsmen. A unique, centuries-old tradition born centuries ago in the alleys of the Oltrarno to satisfy the magnificence of the Medici: between the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Grand Ducal era, the virtuosity in every field of beauty achieved by the Medici court reached heights that no other European court could match. In this period, around Palazzo Pitti (where the Medici had moved their residence) artisan workshops began to multiply to satisfy the needs of the court: carpenters, goldsmiths, silversmiths, upholsterers, cabinetmakers, framers, shoemakers, tailors, tanners, leatherworkers.
It's quite an effect, then, to cross the threshold of the 15th-century Palazzo Settimanni, between Piazza Santo Spirito and Palazzo Pitti, where Gucci opened its first workshop in 1953 and now, after years of work and restoration entrusted to local craftsmen (from the parquet to the terracotta floors, from pietra serena to the wrought iron of the gigantic vaults and high shelving, from the sofas to the tables), it preserves all its historical archive: the entire history of Gucci from the 1920s to the latest collection of Alessandro Michele, the artistic director to whom we also owe this monumental work of archiving.
This santa scantorum is only accessible to Gucci employees, it is also called Gucci Education, and is used to train the brand's employees. We at Firenze Made in Tuscany had the chance to see it and here we are to share this incredible experience with you.
THE GUCCI ARCHIVE AT PALAZZO SETTIMANNI
In the 2800 square metres distributed over 5 floors, starting from the cellars, the company's archive is divided into each sector.
Our Gucci experience begins on the ground floor where, around a beautiful open-air courtyard decorated with plants with long green leaves and purple flowers, inside large metal and glass cases with brass handles, there are enchanting displays of the legendary bags: the Jackie, the Bamboo and the Morse. Along the walls of this cloister-like covered quadrilateral, a number of rooms of wonder open up: each one contains collections of vintage handbags (Hortus Deliciarum room), small leather goods and vintage belts (Prato di Ganimede room), the exhibition room (Swan room), vintage and contemporary jewellery (Le Marché des Merveilles room), and vintage luggage (1921 Rifondazione room).
The first floor is accessed via narrow stone staircases. Here are the scarves, the clothes stored in breathable, transparent organza bags, sewn by the maison's seamstresses, and the shoes. This floor, too, is divided into rooms with evocative and powerful names: Jupiter's Garden, The Alchemist's Garden, Serapis, Aveugle par Amour, to name but a few... The eyes wander restlessly. They skim over the dress in which Lady Gaga was photographed a few days ago on the set of Ridley Scott's Gucci film, for which the fashion house has made its archive available. In a special room, the most spectacular gowns are on display: those of actress Dakota Johnson or Gucci's muse, Florence Welch, as well as the cloak worn on stage at the Ariston by Achille Lauro. They are kept in a crystal case whose walls rest on steel rails fixed to the floor: they open and close on command in an evocative mechanical movement of yesteryear.
The basement is divided into the Radura (porcelain and household items), Herbarium (desk items) and Maison de L'Amour (leisure items) rooms. Here, one rediscovers an infinity of lifestyle accessories, with a perfectly contemporary function and design, that 60 or 70 years ago were destined to complete the brand's aesthetic: an incredible extension of the range from lighters to umbrellas, from card holders to travel kits, to wicker picnic baskets fully equipped with crockery.
In short, here we have travelled through 100 years of history, that of a legendary brand but also of Florentine craftsmanship. A physical place that sits side by side with an innovative digital ecosystem in a marriage between the traditional learning structure and new virtual spaces. "A place where apparently the past is preserved, but which is actually a bridge to the contemporary," explains Alessandro Michele. "An ancient building is a living thing. Like fashion".
The number of Gucci locations in Florence grows with this new archive location:
The Gucci factory at Casellina in Scandicci
The Gucci boutique at 73r Via de' Tornabuoni
The Gucci Garden in the ancient Palazzo della Mercanzia in Piazza della Signoria, a magical place wanted in 2018 by creative director Alessandro Michele, which contains the dynamic story of Gucci's history among archival pieces and contemporary objects (on the first and second floors), the shop of special editions, and the Gucci Osteria bistrot conceived and curated by Massimo Bottura and led by chef Karime Lopez (on the ground floor).
Palazzo Settimanni, in Via delle Caldaie, 7 houses the Gucci Archives and Gucci education.