Sep 28, 2011 12:00AM

Gucci Museo Opens

We managed to mention James Franco as well.

Cosimo I de Medici proudly sits astride a giant horse in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence; the first in the political dynasty of the Medici family, a clan that went on to effectively rule the city throughout much of the Italian Renaissance. You can still see the Medici family crest all over the city but now Cosimo can only sit and watch as another empire continues to expand its influence and importance in Florentine society. Last night marked the launch of Gucci's latest venture, Gucci Museo, in the 14th Century Palazzo della Mercanzia. Ever since the First World War the Gucci family crest, has become increasingly synonymous with the city of Florence. May the Medicis rest in peace because it doesn't look like the Gucci train is slowing down any time soon.

Gucci has been on a roll for the last couple of seasons, with a Spring collection that dominated magazine covers (in competition with those Prada dresses) and led the way for widespread colour-blocking. Frida Gianni then followed it with an extravagant seventies show for Fall; the jewel-tone gowns gaining red-carpet ubiquity. And so it was that Gucci climatically celebrated its current successes and its ninety-year history with the opening of the Museo last night. The black carpet attendees, decked almost exclusively in Gucci, ran the gamut from classy (Emmanuelle Alt looking very Editrix) to crazy (Debbie Harry. Definitely an icon. Definitely a bit crazy) and even mildly controversial (see Poppy Delevigne in a daring iridescent number – gotta love a bit of side boob!).

The Museo, which opens to the public today across three floors, will house permanent exhibitions mined from the archives alongside contemporary art installations. Even though it wasn't until the fifties that the brand began to gain a celebrity profile, courting film stars with the establishment of its New York office, it has occupied an important place in the history of Italian fashion for the best part of a century; one that François-Henri Pinault, chairman of parent company PPR, acknowledged when he said he was "happy for the people working at Gucci. They are so talented ... It’s a piece of Italy." Damn straight. And get this; 50 per cent of each six euro ticket for the Museo goes to help the City of Florence preserve and restore their signature art treasures (such as Cosimo’s monument) — how respectful of the city that gave birth to Gucci. And while we're on the topic of Gucci, here's your daily dose of James Franco.

www.gucci.com

Rupert Bickersteth