In the late 1800s, a teenage Guccio Gucci left Florence, Italy, and headed off to London, where he found work as a porter at the Savoy Hotel. Fascinated with the lifestyles of its international guests, he was inspired to inaugurate his own brand of leather travel goods. After apprenticing at the historic Milanese luggage manufacturer Franzi, he opened his first atelier in 1921 on Florence’s Via della Vigna Nuova, where he began making his own exquisite steamer trunks using Tuscan and imported leathers; he also designed walking sticks and umbrellas.
With the rise of automobiles during the 1930s, the demand for oversize cases diminished, so the house expanded into handbags. In 1947, its now-iconic bamboo-handled bag appeared in a shape reminiscent of a saddle. A few years later, the label debuted its signature vermilion-and-green grosgrain striped Web pattern, a nod to the woven straps that run underneath a horse’s body.
Today, Gucci is reprising an equestrian shoulder bag that was first shown in 1981. The original archival version featured a fold-over flap that was also contoured like a saddle with a clasp resembling a metal stirrup, while the new iteration comes in nine different variations (two of which are available in Australia) — from those with intricate floral embroideries and ostrich and lizard details to others accenting vintage mignon motifs with green and red piping. The bag is instantly identifiable by its hardware alone, and yet still as timeless as ever.