Alessandro Michele latest project is set inside a 14th-century structure
Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele has pulled off a fashion coup. He’s taken the Gucci Museo housed in a monument built in 1337 located next to the historic Palazzo Vecchio and rebranded it into a 21-st century homage to Gucci. Called Gucci Garden, it pays tribute to the brand’s history, houses the first Gucci-branded restaurant in the world, and also retails limited-edition pieces that you aren’t going to find anywhere else on the planet.
The entry to Gucci Garden costs just €8. Half of that is donated to the city of Florence where you’re unlikely to take more than a few steps before encountering a medieval structure. The ground floor features two rooms selling Gucci Garden-exclusive artefacts and pieces like limited-edition denim jackets with animal illustrations, silk jackets, bespoke chairs and even items from Gucci Décor like ceramic tiles and plates. Watch out for Harlem-inspired fashion pieces by Dapper Dan and skateboard-punk collectables from Trouble Andrew.
Gucci Osteria, the brand’s first-ever restaurant is located on the ground floor as well. It’s headed up by three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura whose other restaurant in Modena, Osteria Francescana, was ranked as the world’s best restaurant for three years on the trot not long ago. Interestingly, although Gucci Osteria is fine dining joint – think Gucci tortellini in parmesan sauce and Gucci scampi – it’s still surprisingly accessible when you consider that no dish costs more than €30.
Opening a branded restaurant offering these prices is a brilliant marketing strategy. You create what Harvard Business School calls “brand tourists” – those who understand the value of the brand and would want to visit to excitedly Instagram their Gucci meal. These men and women don’t necessarily have the means to buy into the expensive brand, but will proudly proclaim their association with it if even just over a meal that they humblebrag on social media. We’re looking at you, millennials.
The second and third floor break away from retail and are more museum-styled spaces where you dig deep and immerse yourself in the razzle-dazzle of this Florentine brand which was established in 1921. The “allure of the double G” exhibition displays the vintage as well as the modern-day evolution of the brand’s logo; another room has a 30-seat cinema; there’s a space that celebrates the brand’s famous motifs like the horsebit and the famous Gucci stripes. Nearby you’ll even find a natural-history inspired space filled with accessories and objects from the brand that plays off Alessandro’s personal preference for iconography inspired by gardens and animals.
Millennial or not, it’s worth your while to drop by Gucci Garden and understand a brand that continues to shape how we think of and relate to luxury brands.