Alain Delon in Gucci loafers, with Romy Schneider, Cannes, 1959.
On a terrace in Cannes, Romy Schneider caresses the classic Gucci loafers worn by Alain Delon. The snaffle loafer has been an icon of wealth and European style since it was designed in 1932 by the company’s patriarch, Guccio Gucci. After rebelling against joining his family’s ailing straw hat-making business, Gucci ran away to London. He found a job as maitre d’hôtel at the Savoy where he looked after the wealthy guests, paying particular attention to their baggage. He returned to Florence and opened a small shop selling saddlery, later expanding into leather bags and shoes which were decorated with a horse’s snaffle. in 1933, Aldo, his son, joined the business and designed the iconic Gucci logo using the interlocking double Gs of his father’s initials. Intermittent periods of stunning success were counterpointed with family squabbles and even murder, marring the extraordinary Gucci story. The company enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s under the design directorship of Tom Ford.
—Phaidon Editors, 1998