Audiences recently got a glimpse of the long-awaited House of Gucci, starring Lady Gaga as hotheaded Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as her ill-fated husband, Maurizio Gucci.
On Thursday, the film's first trailer and posters were released, revealing a tale of intrigue and jealousy that tracks the real-life conflicts within the Gucci family, culminating in the murder of Maurizio in 1995.
The story behind 'House of Gucci'
Directed by Ridley Scott, the film focuses on the marriage of Maurizio, the last family member to run the namesake fashion label, and Reggiani, a socialite who married into the wealthy Gucci family in 1973.
Prone to lofty ostentation, she earned the moniker "Lady Gucci" from the Italian press. For the first few years of their marriage, the pair epitomised glamour, with their every move followed by an enthralled public.
However, by 1985, things were starting to fall apart. The Gucci family was locked in an internal power struggle that begun with the death of brand founder Guccio Gucci in 1953, with seemingly every member vying for control.
As his marriage crumbled, Maurizio brought things to a head by walking out of the marital home, claiming he was going away on business for a few days. He never returned, and Reggiani and Maurizio divorced in 1991.
In 1993, Maurizio finally ousted his family and seized control of Gucci, only to lose it 18 months later when he was forced to sell his controlling stake, effectively ending his family’s link to the company. Two years later, he was gunned down at his office in Milan by a hitman hired by his ex-wife, in a killing that shocked the world.
Initially unsolved, only a tip-off resulted in the arrest of Reggiani in 1997, who was tried and sentenced to 26 years in jail for her role in the killing.
Renamed the "Black Widow" by the press, it was claimed Reggiani’s jealousy of her ex-husband sparked the murder, with the prosecution claiming Maurizio was killed partly to prevent him from marrying again, as another wife would have halved Reggiani’s $500,000-a-year support settlement.
Takeaways from the trailer
Driver offers a quietly believable portrait in the role of Maurizio, while Jared Leto is unrecognisable as his cousin Paolo Gucci, with a paunch and balding pate.
However, it is Gaga who steals the show as the scheming Reggiani. An Italian-American herself, Gaga – born Stefani Germanotta – nails Reggiani's heavy Italian accent, triggering a spate of social media praise.
The film also plays out against the real-life timeline of the company, as Maurizio was still part of the label when Tom Ford was hired as creative director in 1990, a role he held until 2004. Under Ford, Gucci became the byword for high-octane glamour, as the designer built on the monied history of the house.
While French luxury group Kering, which currently owns Gucci, has said nothing about the coming film, a number of its stars also have personal connections to the brand.
Leto has headed up numerous Gucci advertising campaigns, and is the de facto muse to creative director Alessandro Michele. Salma Hayek, meanwhile, who will also appear in the film, is married to Francois-Henri Pinault, the president and chief executive of Kering.
What has Gucci said about the film?
One of Maurizio’s second cousins, Patrizia Gucci, expressed fears earlier this year that the film pries into the private lives of the Gucci heirs.
“We are truly disappointed. I speak on behalf of the family,” Patrizia said in April. “They are stealing the identity of a family to make a profit, to increase the income of the Hollywood system … Our family has an identity, privacy. We can talk about everything. but there is a borderline that cannot be crossed.”
Whatever the critical reaction to its release, the film is likely to increase interest in the label, as well as its vintage designs. The fashion house did co-operate with House of Gucci, opening its archives to the film company for wardrobe and props.
Whether the label, which marks a century in business this year, will embrace or distance itself from the film upon its release remains to be seen.