Go-To Glamour

By staff February 1, 2006

The item: This red leather Gucci handbag with double chain and logo web zipper pull is for the woman who doesn't mind if her accessories demand attention on their own. Light-gold hardware accents the bold richness of the practical shape. $1,250. (Or choose the bag in luxurious ostrich for a little upcharge to $3,490.) You know you want something bright red this winter-go for it.

What makes it special: Well, it's Gucci, gal, the Italian house that made its name and reputation in fine Italian leather. This bag gets you into the best restaurants even when you're wearing ratty jeans and looks right when you're lunching with pals at the yacht club or rushing off to an afternoon wedding. It's your all-purpose, go-to glamour bag.

Behind the brand: Guccio Gucci started a saddlery and leather goods store in Florence in 1921. In 1938 he expanded to Rome and then globally as his trademark (the two Gs, and the striped webbing derived from a saddle girth) began to appear on everything from lighters and luggage to pens, perfumes, clothes, accessories and shoes. When Papa Gucci died in 1953, his six offspring plunged into nasty sibling rivalry, which nearly bankrupted the firm. But in 1993, 32-year-old fashion designer Tom Ford gloriously revitalized the company linking the brand with celebrities and giving it a sexy, fresh, modern edge. Ford left in 2003, but Gucci, now a public company, is in good shape. Today the Gucci Group includes Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, B├ędat & Co., Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent.

Who has some: Jackie O was fond of the pink suede horsebit loafers; they come in green and marigold, too. She also had a shoulder-strap hobo bag named for her. Grace Kelly made the Flora scarf world-famous, and Audrey Hepburn's affair with Gucci products elevated the brand to royal status. Today, Sting loves his Gucci tuxedo, and Gwyneth Paltrow has been famously photographed in her red crushed-velvet diva tux. Elizabeth Hurley caused a stir in her Gucci patent-leather spiked boots and Madonna sometimes dresses head to toe in Gucci.

Where to get it: In Florida there are Gucci stores in Coral Gables, Bal Harbour and Palm Beach, which has been a special Gucci haunt since Aldo Gucci bought a home on that luxury-laden island in the 1970s. And best of all, Gucci now has a home on our coast in the fashionable Waterside Shops in Naples.

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