By  on May 17, 2005

MILAN — Born from a creative challenge, La Pelle Guccissima is intended to boost Gucci's underexploited leather segment and pump its accessories business.

The new project, which will hit the Gucci stores in August, comprises bags, footwear, small leather goods, luggage and watches, as well as printed silk, velvet and cashmere scarves, imprinted with the double-G logo or the horse bit motif.

"We worked on this line for over a year with the intention of giving leather — which is our heritage — a new focus, energy and momentum," Mark Lee, Gucci's president and managing director, told WWD in an interview. "We felt that aspect was missing and that our leathers weren't immediately recognizable, since Gucci is very much associated with the logoed canvas."

A special advertising campaign that begins at the end of June will support the new line.

Frida Giannini, creative director for accessories and women's ready-to-wear, is upbeat about her latest undertaking and Gucci's support of it. "From a creative standpoint, I was ready to shift the focus from the canvas-logo combination," she said. "I find that leather is very rich and luxurious, especially if it says Gucci all over it, and it targets a wider clientele."

Sales projections for the line were not available.

La Pelle Guccissima's specialty — hard to counterfeit — is that artisans use handmade presses to hot-print the classic double-G logo and the horse bit onto the hides.

"The imprinting is the same, but depending on which way you turn the hide, the effect is embossed or in relief," Giannini said. "We all agreed that the double-G logo worked better embossed while the bit, which is bigger and more detailed, looked better in relief."

Stressing that it takes one worker a full day to treat a hide, Giannini mapped out the process: Once the raw materials are selected — in terms of quality and resistance to heat — they are waxed, hot-printed and finally hand-sponged to remove any wax remnants.

The designer admitted that she pushed herself and the artisans working in Gucci's Tuscan factory to nail down the labor-intensive technicalities. "At first I was frustrated because the hides weren't responding they way they should have," she said. "We really had to sit in the factory for days, trying, trying and re-trying."

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