MILAN — Ten 16th-century tapestries in Florence will return to their original home, courtesy of Gucci. Proceeds from the Gucci Museo will help create the conditions — from lighting to antipollution protection — to display the artistic works in the Sala dei Duecento (the Hall of the Two Hundreds) at the storied Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s town hall.
This story first appeared in the June 16, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Gucci is channeling about 340,000 euros, or $460,353 at current exchange, into the safekeeping of Florence’s masterpieces, which is equivalent to about 50 percent of ticket sales from its museum. The tapestries will be displayed on a quarterly rotating basis in order to preserve the quality of the restoration, which will be completed by specialized center Opificio delle Pietre Dure in the city.
Micaela le Divelec Lemmi, Gucci’s executive vice president and chief corporate operations officer, told WWD that the idea of enhancing the region with initiatives connected to the cultural and artistic world was a project that dates back to the opening of the Gucci Museo in 2011. She underscored the central positioning of the tapestries at Palazzo Vecchio, which is the heart of the city’s government, and the link to the Medici era.
“There are many works of art in Florence, and many are still to be discovered, but it is fundamental in this case the connection with the manufacturing,” said le Divelec Lemmi. “Gucci has long championed artisanal craftsmanship, which reaches such skills that border being artistic.”
During a presentation of one of the restored tapestries on Friday, Florence Mayor Dario Nardella noted that the Medici tapestries are returning to their original location, where they were displayed until 1980. He underscored Gucci’s “major contribution” and characterized Florence as “an open, dynamic and modern city that welcomes business and businesspeople and is relying upon cooperation between private companies and public entities to safeguard our artistic legacy in an active and energetic way so that we can invest in and highlight that legacy.”
Asked about the increased commitment of Italian luxury goods firms to support the artworks, le Divelec Lemmi remarked on the “attention companies in the industry pay to beauty and themes connected to art.” She also highlighted the connection between tradition and innovation as one of the characteristics of Florence and Gucci alike. While conceding Italy over time had lost some of its focus on the preservation of its beauties, the executive said there has been a renewed interest in this sense. “It’s a point of pride to be able to enhance this patrimony,” she said.
This is yet another step that strengthens the Florence-based luxury firm’s ties with the city, which span almost a century. Last year, Gucci acquired Italy’s historic luxury tableware and ceramics firm Richard Ginori 1735 SpA, rescuing it from bankruptcy.
Italian fashion entrepreneurs have been increasingly active in contributing to safeguarding and restoring Italian monuments, especially since funds earmarked by the government for this purpose are slim because of the nation’s economic struggles.
Last month, the Salvatore Ferragamo Group pledged to donate 600,000 euros, or $812,388 at current exchange, to renovate eight rooms at the Uffizi Gallery. Renzo Rosso, founder of OTB, is giving a makeover to Venice’s iconic Ponte di Rialto. Tod’s is supporting the restoration of the Colosseum in Rome; Brunello Cucinelli has restored the Etruscan Arch in Perugia, Italy, and the medieval village of Solomeo, also home to his company’s headquarters. Last year, Fendi said it was supporting a four-year project to restore Rome’s Trevi Fountain and provide a facelift for the Complex of the Four Fountains in the city.
Prada is also supporting its home territory, restoring the fortress in the Tuscan city of Arezzo to recover the antique church of San Donato in Cremona. It is also restoring Giorgio Vasari’s “Last Supper,” which was seriously damaged during the devastating Florence flood of 1966.