While she chose not to use her famous surname on the label of her luxury handbag line, AG Limited Editions, there is no doubt that Alessandra Gucci is deeply influenced by her family's welldocumented past. Gucci, 32, peppers her conversation with references to those relatives who shaped her the most while growing up: her late father, Maurizio, and her late grandfather Rodolfo, who built Gucci (founded by his father, Guccio) into a major luxury label. The designer has inherited their passion for leather goods, even naming her three handbag styles after the two men and herself.
Of course, the Gucci family is well-known for more than just luxury goods. In 1998, her mother, Patrizia Reggiani, was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill Maurizio, and Gucci herself is understandably reluctant to discuss this diffi cult chapter. "I think people already know about my past, and my company is a new story," she says. "I didn't want to even call my company Gucci, because I wanted to create my own brand, and do the job by myself."
To that end, the alligator bags infuse classic chic with feminine fancy: Each style gets a small splash of colorful Swarovski crystals. Handmade by a Milan-based artisan with past ties to the Gucci company, the bags come in three colors, pink, blue and the multihued "jungle." Since alligator reacts to dye in "unexpected and extraordinary ways, each piece is unique," Gucci says. Wholesale prices range from $6,665 to $10,134 for the limited edition of 99 bags.
Gucci, who is based in Saint Moritz, Switzerland, launched the collection earlier this year after stints at Gilli handbags and Ungaro. She spent two years preparing her line. "I wanted to be sure [of the product]," she says. "This is a tribute to my family, which has passed on to me a deep love for quality, elegance and luxury." The bags are being sold through 10 Vendome, the Paris-based consulting service. On the challenges of launching such a venture during a tough economy, she notes: "We must put ourselves to the test [and] differentiate ourselves."
Going forward, Gucci has her eye on other product categories, such as shoes and gloves, but expects to do only limited editions. As for the company her family built, "Gucci is a giant now," she says. "I want to remain niche, and the images are entirely different. We can easily coexist."
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