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Gucci Flora: when Fashion meets Art

Flora is the most famous scarf in the history of Gucci. Its floral motif still inspires the famous maison’s accessories and clothing.

The Flora silk scarf born in 1966 by the scenographer Vittorio Accornero. He was the textile disegner for Gucci between the 1960s and 1981. Accornero started his carreer as an illustrator in 1919, under the pseudonym of Max Ninon. In the 1920s and 1930s, he had designed for the main Italian women’s magazines, often with his wife Edina Altara. For many years he dedicated himself to the illustration of fairy tales and children’s books. And in fact, the birth of this scarf smells a bit like a fairy tale…

Once upon a time…

The elements are all here: the princess who enters in a shop, the owner who perhaps does not yet know that he will give the name to one of the most appreciated luxury fashion houses in the world and the fairytale illustrator who lets himself be carried away from his fairy world to that, real but not too much, of fashion.

The date of birth was 1966, when Grace Kelly entered the Gucci store in via Montenapoleone, in Milan, with Prince Ranieri of Monaco. On that occasion, Rodolfo Gucci decided to give the princess something special by commissioning the drawing for a unique silk scarf to the artist Vittorio Accornero. An elegantly romantic and unusual gesture: flowers printed on a silk scarf instead of a simple bouquet.

Princess Grace Kelly during her visit to the Gucci store in 1966.

The result was Flora, the scarf that revolutionated the history of this fashion accessory: a square of silk sprinkled with flowers that became the prototype of a long series of similar models, later lending its design to bags, shoes and jewels and clothes of the Gucci house.

We already talked about the unique style of Princess Grace of Monaco in this post:

The design

Gucci Flora Silk Scarf

The Flora design is a magical and delicate composition of flowers, berries and insects depicted with the precision of a naturalist, in 37 vibrant colors on a white background. The 9 bouquets represented contain: lilies, ivy, poppies, cornflowers, daffodils, buttercups, anemones, tulips, irises and among these, butterflies, dragonflies, wasps, grasshoppers and beetles.

Accornero experimented a new compositional solution, which avoids the use of specular repetition of the motifs and focuses instead on the single design, and yet extremely varied in details, much more difficult and expensive to create. Furthermore, the adoption of a subject outside the Travel-Equestrain-Hunting field (associated with the identity of Gucci), represented an original choice at the time, in contrast with the usual practice of the other luxury brands, as for example Hérmes.

Title and theme were instead a tribute to the city of Florence and to the origins of Gucci, through the reference to Botticelli’s Allegory Of Spring (“La Primavera”), of which Flora, the nymph with the flowered dress, is one of the main characters.

In Flora, as in many other Accornero’s scarves, there are both the Gucci signature inside a small cartouche, and “V. Accornero” signature. This was an unusual authorial acknowledgment for the many painters and illustrators who in Italian have dedicated to textile design.

Flower Power!

From the beginning, the Flora scarf gets an extraordinary success in Europe and, above all, in the United States. Its design began to be declined in an increasingly wide range of subjects. The Gucci floral minidress trimmed in red silk is from the 1969. Here the floral motif reflects a completely different imagery: the flowers and the insects are enlarged to take Pop connotations with references to Flower Power movement. In the following two decades Gucci promotes a pattern of extention with the use of Flora on blouses, bags and ties.

After Flora, Accornero now enjoys creating all sorts of combinations; he gathers the flowers in bunches, he wraps them on trellis, he forms wreaths, he arranges them in jars, he composes them in a circle or radial pattern. In short, from one scarf to another, it is a triumph of greenery and flowers.

In 1981, Gucci chose this design as a leitmotiv for the first pret-a-porter collection. After the break of the 1990s monochrome minimalism, Flora experienced a new successful season in the 2000s thanks to Frida Giannini.

The continuity between past and present was also maintained by the current creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele. In his Gucci Cruise 2019, he has reinterpreted the Flora pattern in a modern key the, combining the most famous pattern in the history of Gucci to electric and fluorescent colors.

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