The Price of Gucci, by Grace Zurawski
For a while, I thought being rich and famous was the ultimate goal. As a kid, I fantasized of being an actress, a designer, a singer. (The typical childhood ambitions that the people around you encourage, then quickly shut down once you grow older.) It seems ideal, right? Admired by many, possessing immeasurable wealth, and all the holiday homes you can imagine. I soon came to terms with the improbability of wealth and fame, and the sacrifices people make to get there.
To this day, glimpses into the lives of the ultrarich serve to remind me of just how empty such a life truly is. A prime example: the Gucci’s.
As majority owners of the eponymous luxury fashion brand, Patrizia (Lady Gaga) and Maurizio (Adam Driver) Gucci lived lives of luxury in the film, House of Gucci. Though Maurizio was thrown out by his father after confessing his plans to marry his significantly less wealthy lover, the two were happy with their modest lives. However, she was soon brought into the legendary fashion empire of Gucci. (Paraded into it might be more accurate.) Patrizia knew that she was destined for bigger and better things, so she wasn’t the least bit afraid to do what she must for Gucci to reign. Sure, her authoritative, take-charge attitude isn’t the worst thing to be as a business owner, but her craving for power was just the beginning of a dangerous spiral.
Maurizio made it clear to his wife from the beginning that Gucci was simply his family name, not who he wanted to be. He expressed to her that working at Patrizia’s father’s business was the happiest he had ever been and how much he didn’t want to work for Gucci, but was finally pushed to run the company. That was not enough for Patrizia. As Aldo Gucci, Maurizio’s uncle and part-owner wanted to make changes she disapproved of, she decided he needed to be ousted by exposing his tax crimes and shipping him off to jail. Previously seen as only an eccentric bother, Aldo’s son, Paolo, was pushed out of the company soon after when the couple got tired of his antics.
The other family members were not totally blameless. Aldo was arrested for tax evasion when he was the chairman of Gucci, a position of great responsibility. Paolo used the Gucci name for his personal design undertakings, viewed as ridiculous and a mockery to Gucci by the others. According to Patrizia, the company was in her capable hands until Maurizio’s father died and passed down his half-stake in the company. Maurizio changed completely and stopped caring about anyone else or whomever he affected. He spent wild amounts of money that put the company completely in debt until he had to sell his shares, all while escaping his home for another woman, leaving Patrizia in the dust.
In the end of all this, the Gucci’s are left a broken family. Fairly so, it’s a shared idea that Patrizia was the one to cause the downfall. After all, she did organize the murder of her own husband. She was the outsider to take advantage of the company and cause it and the family to crumble. Even so, it’s undeniable that each member had their separate faults. When that much money and power is on the line, conflict is bound to happen and the worst versions of people are exposed.
What I find most heartbreaking about this story is how close they were to escaping their tragic fate. Patrizia sought out Maurizio before she had any idea who he was or how much money he had. Maurizio didn’t mind that her father was a small trucking business owner, or that Reggiani was just an average name. When his father kicked him out, her family took him in and she agreed to marry him anyway, inheritance or not. The fact that they loved each other was all that mattered for them to have a happy life together. Yet neither one thought what they had was enough, so they forced their way to the top, not caring who they destroyed on the way.
Truth be told, the need for money is unavoidable. If you want a home, food, or healthcare (quite literally anything it may seem), you need money. But it’s stories like this that bring me back down to Earth to contemplate what I value most.