Dubai Diaries: How Lady Gaga aced Lady Gucci

What the House of Gucci director whips up beautifully is a spectacle of tragicomedy.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Anamika Chatterjee

Published: Tue 7 Dec 2021, 2:52 PM

There is something about the worlds of the rich and the famous that is as intriguing as it is fascinating. I felt that when I first heard about Maurizio Gucci and Patrizia Reggiani’s story, deemed as one of the greatest tragedies in the world of fashion. Incidentally, their story itself has less to do with fashion, but what power and wealth and the hubris born out of a combination of these factors can do to individuals and the relationships they form.

To put what is a fairly complex story into perspective, Patrizia, a well-known socialite in Italy, marries the scion of the Gucci family, much to the dismay of Maurizio’s father Rodolpho. As the pair gets more intensely involved in the family business, cracks begin to show up with their differing approach to how the business ought to be run.

Maurizio finally leaves Patrizia for a younger woman, something she considers an ultimate betrayal and has him killed by a hitman.

There are many aspects to the Gucci story that intrigue us. First, how interpersonal relationships play out amid a concoction of wealth, power and glamour. Second, the tragedy of having to see a family business — something an ancestor created from the scratch, something that created a legacy — fall apart owing to the failure of keeping up with the times.

The Ridley Scott film I watched in the theatres last week was a nicely stitched account of the ideas that revolve around the Gucci family. The film has drawn a fair bit of criticism from many quarters for over-the-top portrayals and performances.

Designer Tom Ford, who was appointed the creative director of Gucci in 1994 and who was credited with changing the course of the fashion house, has been fairly critical of the portrayal of some of the characters, to the point of saying he felt “deeply sad” after watching the film.

But what Scott whips up beautifully is a spectacle of tragicomedy, where characters motivated by greed and fame often tend to make it worse for themselves. Small dramatic licenses make the film a fun watch, even if it is far from being subtle.

The icing on the cake is Lady Gaga as Lady Gucci. She lights up the screen every time she appears. If you are unfamiliar with who Patrizia Reggiani was, then sample this small anecdote that appeared in a 2016 profile of Lady Gucci in The Guardian.

When a reporter allegedly asks her, “Patrizia, why did you hire a hitman to kill Maurizio Gucci? Why didn’t you shoot him yourself?”, Reggiani answers, “My eyesight is not so good. I didn’t want to miss.” This may not be anyone’s idea of humour, but that’s the picture of Reggiani that emerges from the countless stories on her. If you find Gaga overdressed, then all you have to do is refer to another article where Reggiani responds wryly on being complimented for a Zara dress she’s wearing. “It’s Zara. I don’t earn enough at this place to buy proper clothes.”

That’s precisely the essence that Gaga has managed to capture in House of Gucci. Essence of a woman who may not consider herself to be ethical, but tries to play fair. Among many things that do work for the film, her performance is the one that towers over everything else.

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