How This Writer Found Golden Nuggets for ‘Gucci’ History

I remember watching an Italian report when I was 12 and seeing Patrizia Reggiani in church, dressed in black, mourning the death of the man she had killed a few days earlier. I grew up in Milan, Italy. My mother is a fashion designer. As a child, I fed ducks with my father three doors down from where Maurizio Gucci was murdered.

So when Ridley and Giannina Scott called me to discuss writing “The House of Gucci,” which they had tried to bring to the screen for nearly two decades, I saw more than a simple work of writing: I saw in it the opportunity of a lifetime. A perfect blend of my interests as a storyteller and a world I knew intimately.

The writing process began with reading Sara Gay Forden’s book, “The House of Gucci”, which is a wonderful biography of the family and the brand from its inception in 1921 to the present day. I was lucky enough to speak Italian and looked at articles written about Gucci in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. I found some wonderful golden nuggets throughout the articles. For example, that Paolo was president of the Pigeon Fancier’s Assn. or Aldo’s reputation for picking up young women shopping in his stores.

But like any good adaptation, there came a time when I had to put aside the source material and make the story my own. This is a work of fiction, not a docudrama or a biography. And in the center of it is Patrizia. One of the most overused notes given to screenwriters is to make the protagonist “likable”. And while I don’t usually agree with that, I found Patrizia’s 30-year-old bow to be so tall, so wide, that she needed start in a place of love for Maurizio for the love story to turn convincingly into pure horror. After all, it would be far more relevant for audiences to process a doomed romance rather than focus on the character’s cynical, gold-digging aspect.

“Tone” is another interesting term that is often used. Ironically, the writer may be the last person to be aware of tone when writing. Of course, some stories fall naturally into a certain genre, and there are conventions that can be followed within that. But with “House of Gucci”, I knew I had to have fun with the material. Just like a rich Italian meal, it was about giving it as much color and exuberance as possible. The biggest pitfall would have been to turn what is a melodramatic and lyrical minestrone into something too austere, too self-righteous. The characters must take themselves very seriously: but there lies the humor and the satire.

I researched for three months and wrote the screenplay in another three months. My first draft was 135 pages. At one point we had a 150-page manuscript – Ridley and I kept adding new scenes, drunk on Gucci’s enthusiasm. The shooting script was close to the original 135. I don’t think many new scenes in the longer draft made it to the finished script, but we got to know these characters and the story better.

This is my first feature film produced. I spent a year during the pandemic in Colombia after going to a wedding in Bogota and being stuck there. I’ve been working with Ridley and the actors remotely for most of this year. Ridley graciously allowed me to be on set for the entire shoot, from the first frame to the last. I’ll be forever grateful to him for that – he knows I want to direct, and it was a masterclass in filmmaking by a true master.

I will never forget arriving in Rome in February at my hotel, which also served as the production offices for the film. I put my bags in my room and ventured upstairs to the sixth, seventh, eighth floors. It was the middle of the night, no one was there. Each floor was dedicated to a production department. Seeing my ideas come to life – the cars I referenced, the food, the fashion shows, the clothes – was incredibly moving.

After many years of writing in a bubble, never seeing my dreams come to fruition, here I am, working with some amazing artists, on a story that took me back to the city where I grew up – Milan. The city where I fell in love with cinema.