house of gucci

Back in December of last year, House Of Gucci broke headlines across the world, as Lady Gaga and Adam Driver starred in the monumental film that shared the story of Maurizio Gucci and his empire, and all the events that led up to his tragic murder. What some may not be aware of, is that the acclaimed film was adapted from Sara Forden’s award-winning and New York Times best-selling book, House of Gucci. The author, who was living in Milan during Maurizio Gucci’s tragic death, was a business reporter who was intrigued by the explosion of family fashion labels like Armani, Versace and Gucci. That was when she started working for Women’s Wear Daily. Fast forward a few years, and Forden found herself meeting with Gucci family members and exchanging telegrams with Patrizia Gucci to and from prison.

Sara Forden
Sara Forden by Nancy Fina

We were so eager to hear more about Forden’s journey that led to arguably one of the most celebrated moments of her career, and so we sat down with the author to discuss all things glitz, glamour and Gucci.

What are your recollections of the day Maurizio Gucci was murdered?

I remember everything about it. It was so shocking. I remember, it was 8:30 am, and I was just about to leave my apartment in Milan to go to the office. At that time, I was working for Fairchild which owned Women’s Wear Daily, and one of my reporters called me and said, ‘Sarah, have you heard the news?’ The Italian wires had just flashed that Maurizio Gucci had been shot in Milan in his new offices. At that point, he was out of the company. It was 1995. He had lost control of Gucci in 1993. He had $150 million in the bank from the sale of his 50%. He was starting to evaluate investment opportunities, and not just in fashion.

He had walked into the doors and was shot in cold blood. That was just a shocking event in Milan because Milan was Italy’s and still is Italy’s business and financial capital. It was not a violent city, it was not a city where people were carrying guns and there were lots of shootings. So this was a complete anomaly, it was shocking. But it was also shocking, because it wasn’t immediately clear who could have done this. So I ran out of my apartment and took a taxi, got down to the Palazzo. Already it was all roped off and there was a clutch of paparazzi and TV cameras and emergency responders and police. It was a pretty chaotic scene. I realised I wasn’t going to get much information there, so I went around back to the office and just started making phone calls and started writing the story, and one of the big questions was who could have done such a thing?

House of Gucci
House of Gucci Book Cover, Courtesy of Sara Forden

How did you come to learn so much about the Gucci family and what made you decide to write the book?

So, as you said, I had followed the story as a beat reporter, and I wrote the story of Maurizio’s turnaround plan. I wrote the story about how the turnaround was failing. I wrote about the battles with Investcorp, and then his ultimate loss. I wrote about the murder, I wrote the story about Patrizia’s arrest. I had always wanted to write a book and I was trying to figure out what my book would be because I knew I wasn’t a novelist. It had to ideally be in facts, it had to be a non-fiction book. Then things started to shift. So, Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole were running the company and Tom Ford produced the show that hit the ball out of the park. It was the show that’s recreated in the movie with the big spotlight and Amber Valletta with the silky shirt and mohair jacket and the low slung jeans. Everybody just sat up, it was electrifying. Everyone was like, ‘Whoa, there’s something new happening at Gucci!’ Then they achieved the most successful IPO that they had ever imagined. So Investcorp, not only got its money out, but made money, millions, many times over. Then Gucci became kind of like the must-see show in Milan.

I was on a vacation and visiting family. My dad wanted me to come and see the new public library that had just opened in Arlington, Virginia, at the time. The new feature of the new library was that there was a computer in the research department. So I walk over and I type in Gucci because it was very much on my mind. Out of the 10 blue links that it spit out, eight of them were the stories that I had written. It was my lightbulb moment.


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A post shared by Sara Forden (@saragayforden)

Try to recall the moment that you were told that your book was going to be adapted into a film. What was your initial reaction?

Of course, I was ecstatic. Ridley Scott offered me an option over 10 years ago but then that was a long development. So, I was always gratified that he was interested in it and they could always renew the option. I knew that they were developing the project but I didn’t really want to hold my hopes too high because these things can take time, and you never know if they’re going to ultimately come forward. I should say I always envisioned the story as a movie, because it is so dramatic. When I was writing, I was trying to set the scenes even the way I wrote the book, because I could see the camera panning across the screen and I’m not a screenplay writer. So that was just my sort of personal interpretation. But then when I found out that they were going forward, and they’d signed, I mean the big moment was when they signed Lady Gaga to play Patrizia and I was like, ‘oh my god, that is so surreal!’


For those of you curious to hear more from Sara Forden in person, you’re in luck. The author will be at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature right here in Dubai on Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th of February, with the main topics of conversations being ‘How to Make the Internet Less Evil,’ and ‘The House of Gucci: Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed,’ respectively.