There exists a special kind of relationship between a person and a cherished garment or object; an encouraged relationship, a transmission of narratives that we breathe life into each time we hold or wear it. It's a special kind of storytelling, as the wearer transcends simply being a curator, to become the conveyor of meaning. Shot and directed by David Sims, Gucci's latest campaign dedicated to the Bamboo 1947 (starring supermodel Liu Wen), is an homage to these unique relationships we hold with our cherished objects; the iconic bag an allegorical treasure chest, and an extension of one's unique femininity.
Having first been created in response to leather shortages in post-war Italy, Gucci's Bamboo 1947 bag was a coalescence of necessity and innovation. At-the-time creative director Guccio Gucci and his team of Florentine designers opted to equip the bag with a distinctively crafted bamboo handle – an abundant and easily imported material from Japan. Today, bamboo has become something of a House code for Gucci, remaining at the heart of its signature bag collections, and expanding into eyewear and jewellery designs.
Archival Bamboo 1947 designs from the 1960s.
To create the handle, the bamboo is softened and processed by hand over an open flame to manipulate its shape, before being coated in varnish and roasted to achieve its signature shiny, golden-brown finish. Because of this hand-led process, each bamboo handle is unique one-of-one.
Archival predecessors were favourites of 20th century leading ladies like Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly and Princess Diana, and were often seen on the arm of silver screen characters – whether nestled in the lap of Ingrid Bergman in the 1954 film Viaggio in Italia, or clutched by Eleonora Rossi Drago in Michelangelo Antonioni's Le Amiche or a mini-skirt clad Vanessa Redgrave in Blow-Up.
Artisans at work: Gucci workshop, via delle Caldaie, Florence 1950.
The Bamboo 1947 and its archival predecessors feature prominently the Italian fashion House's current exhibition Gucci Cosmos, which debuted in Shangai on 28 April this year. Curated by fashion critic Maria Luisa Frisa, and designed by British artist Es Devlin (who also created coinciding window installations for select Gucci boutiques globally), the exhibition narrates designs from the House's 102-year history across eight immersive rooms. The exhibition will remain in Shanghai until 28 June, before touring select cities.
Get a glimpse behind the scenes of the latest Bamboo 1947 campaign, featuring Liu Wen, below.
The Gucci Bamboo 1947 is exclusively available in select Gucci Stores globally. Discover more about the Gucci Bamboo 1947 on the Gucci website.