Saturday, November 8, 2008

Musings on a non Hermes Scarf Design, "Flora" by Gucci designed by Artist Vittorio Accornero

"Flora" patterned shawl design by Vittorio Accornero for Gucci

As I have said before, it is the artist and the intricate designs that draw me into the love of scarves. I do believe that it is very hard to find a match to the quality of workmanship that is present in an Hermes scarf, but there are other companies with long histories that have quality pieces which display equally wonderful designs. One of those companies is Gucci particularly the designs commissioned to artist Vittorio Accornero.

Vittorio Accornero born in 1896 in Casale Monferrato (Italy), Accornero's work debuted as an illustrator; after the first world war under the pseudonym Victor Max Minon. Under the name Minon, Accornero would become well known and win many awards for his illustrations of children's books, posters and illustrations for cruise lines (ie. menus, and advertising). He would also collaborate with his wife at the time Edina Altara. All of this happening before the 1930's.

In 1934, Accornerno and Altara would divorce and go their own separate yet very successful ways in the art world. Accornero continued to illustrate children's books most notably editions of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Anderson, Pinocchio, and Shakespeare. He would also claim fame in the world of theatrical set design for movies, opera, and stage.

And so it should come as no surprise that when Rodolfo Gucci would go searching for the best artist to design a new line of scarves for the world renown House of Gucci, his choice would be none other than accomplished artist Vittorio Accornero.

The story goes that Hollywood actress and later Princess, Grace Kelly one day entered the shop of Rodolfo Gucci in a bit of a panic for a last minute gift for a friend who was getting married. She desired to purchase a floral scarf. Gucci had nothing in a floral design at all. Much of the shops textiles consisted of coarse materials for bags and bag linings, and other sturdy accessories.

In 1965, Gucci wanting to pay homage to the then Princess Grace, commissioned Accornero to design the now famous "Flora" pattern to honor the princess because she had a passion for flowers.The design itself a botanical piece consisting of 37 different colors within the design. Intricately dispersed among lilies, carnations, daisies etc. there are also butterflies, dragonflies, lady bugs and various other types of small beetles.

Flora was an instant success, and surpassed all sales records within the United States. Still today more than forty years later, has become a beloved and sought after design by collectors all over the world. Gucci resurrected the pattern in the early 80's and placed it not only on scarves, but bags, shoes, ready to wear pieces, and luxury items for the home.

Most recently in 2004 Frida Giannini then design director for Gucci's accessory line, once again resurrected the Flora design on handbags, wallets and other Gucci accessories. And once again with overwhelming success the pieces sold out rapidly making Flora again much sought after by collectors.

2004 Billboard Add for Gucci's re-release of "Flora" design

in their bags and accessory line

Accornero did other designs for Gucci's line of scarves. His work is most notably recognized by the inclusion of fanciful insects hidden throughout the piece.

However not all of Accorneros prints include insects. There were many floral patterns done after the original "Flora" they are easily recognized as Accornero designs by those who admire his work. Most of all of his pieces for Gucci printed as silk scarves include his famous V. Accornero signature.

Gucci used the "Flora" design in ready to wear resort type wear and wool shawls. Those pieces do not carry the Accornero signature, but are easy to recognize. The original "Flora" design is distingished in that it includes tiger lilies as one of the flowers in the design.

A summer dress from the Gucci line done in the "Flora" pattern

Circa 1980's and not signed by V. Accornero

Accornero died in 1982, but he lives on in his beautiful designs, that although rare can be found on other fabulous Gucci pieces other than scarves.

Gucci Tea set in "Flora" pattern signed by V. Accornero

There is one internet reference that states that Accornero also designed for Hermes. I have never been able to verify this, and in all of my collecting I have never seen any Hermes pieces done by this artist.

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