The 90-year legacy of Gucci is filled with a classic sensibility from the early 1920s, and the focus of the brand has always surrounded the master craftsmanship of Tuscan artisans. Gucci prides itself in crafting luxury pieces, and the focus now goes back to the Bamboo line, which dates back to the 1940s. We already shared the history of the Gucci Bamboo bags, and now we have the pleasure of sharing how they’re made.

When I see designer bags freshly unpacked, sitting on store shelves, waiting to be bought, I sometimes forget the lengths to which craftsman and artisans go to create them. A dream came true for me over the summer when Vlad and I had the pleasure to spend the day in the Gucci factory outside of Florence, watching the craftsmen meticulously create the bamboo handles we see on some of the most coveted and iconic bags in history, the Gucci Bamboo bags.

Gucci Bamboo: Behind the Scenes (3)

The process begins by finding the right pieces of bamboo, which is no easy task. Gucci artisans meticulously choose the most unblemished portions, and once they are deemed fit for production, the next step is bending the bamboo.

The specially trained artisan molds the bamboo over fire to turn the handle into the proper shape. Over the open flame, as the bamboo heats up it softens and allows the bending to happen. This takes a few minutes as the artisan continuously works the bamboo over the open flame, manipulating the bamboo to perfection.

After the bamboo has been molded, it enters the lacquering stage. Each piece has a layer of lacquer brushed over it to make it more durable and give the glossy finish. Fun fact: the lacquer used in this process comes from an insect.

Gucci Bamboo: Behind the Scenes (7) Gucci Bamboo: Behind the Scenes (10)

Once the bamboo has been lacquered, the artisan moves over to the next station, where he toasts the handles to give the perfect golden-brown finish. No bamboo piece will be exactly the same as any other piece; they’re all created by hand, using a decades-old artistic process.

After these steps, the bamboo is ready to be added to the bag. The molded, toasted, and lacquered handle is mounted to the hardware which is then placed on the bag. The finished product is a true brand icon with very special history, a meticulous creative process and which leaves you with an innovative and distinctive design.

Shop Gucci Bamboo via Gucci.com.

Gucci Bamboo: Behind the Scenes (6)Gucci Bamboo: Behind the Scenes (4)Gucci Bamboo: Behind the Scenes (1) Gucci Bamboo: Behind the Scenes (8)

There are few elements of handbag history as recognizable and inventive as the curved handles of the famous Gucci Bamboo Handbags, and like innovations in every sector from astrophysics to candy-making, necessity was the mother of this particular invention. In the first of a three-part series in collaboration with Gucci, we’ll investigate the history of the company’s signature handle design and some of the famous hands that have held it since its inception.

In 1947, when the iconic Gucci bamboo handles first appeared, World War II was still in its final stages and countries the world over were rationing resources. That was especially true in Europe, where artisans at Gucci were being pressured to find materials that weren’t subject to restriction to use in their designs. Bamboo cane could still be imported from Japan, and Gucci craftsman developed a patented method to heat and bend the bamboo in such a way that it would retain its shape once cooled and affixed to a handbag.

The bamboo handles were so interesting and distinctive that the bags became an instant hit, sticking around well past the end of the war to be carried by some of the biggest celebrities and tastemakers of the 1950s and 60s. Under current Gucci creative director Frida Giannini, the iconic bamboo handles have been revived in a whole new way.

Shop Gucci Bamboo via Gucci.com

For images of Gucci Bamboo through history, as well as a selection of stars wearing Gucci Bamboo bags, check out the gallery below. Archival photos courtesy of Gucci.


Gucci Bamboo Bags Through History

A Gucci Bamboo bag from the 1960s

Gucci Bamboo Bag 1960s

Gucci Craftsman in Florence, 1953

Gucci Craftsmen in Florence, 1953

Gucci Advertisement, 1960s

Gucci Bamboo Handbag Advertisement, 1960s

Gucci Handbag Patent Documentation

Gucci Bamboo Patent Form

Gucci Advertisement, Harper’s Bazaar, 1970s

Gucci Advertisement, Harper's Bazaar, 1970s

Gucci Bamboo Bags Carried By Celebrities

Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave with a Gucci Bamboo Bag 2 Vanessa Redgrave with a Gucci Bamboo Bag 1

Lady Diana

Princess Diana with a Gucci Bamboo Bag

Naomi Watts

Naomi Watts with a Gucci Bamboo Bag

Florence Welch

Florence Welch with a Gucci Bamboo Bag

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley with a Gucci Bamboo Bag

Beyonce

Beyonce with a Gucci Bamboo Bag

I’ve been so excited to share our coverage on the iconic Gucci Bamboo, from the history, to the making, to the bags and accessories. We spent time in Italy becoming acquainted with the product and we look forward to bringing you along the journey as we share it with you as well.

Be sure to tune in next week for beautiful images, insightful history, and some special touches you won’t want to miss.

Here’s RuPaul in Beverly Hills, sans his famous drag trappings, pairing a Gucci Logo Print Tote Bag with a fab pink two button suit and white sandals. We’re unsure as to whether this specific bag is a men’s or women’s style (judging by its size, I’m leaning towards the latter), but we doubt Ru is overly concerned either way. Gucci tends to have some of the most unisex-looking bags on the market for men. Ladies and lads alike can shop all things Gucci via Net-a-Porter.

We posited a question for dudes in our “Man Bag Monday” post last week as to whether they would carry a women’s bag. All the gentlemen who commented were huge fans of women’s bags – in fact, sentiments were pretty evenly split between “I’ll carry a more unisex-looking woman’s bag, no problem” and “I’ll carry any women’s bag I happen to fancy, why not?” One guy even claimed to own four Birkins. So maybe that’s why it’s so hard to get your hands on an Hermes bag – all the dudes are snapping them up.

Gucci Bright Bit Leather Shoulder Bag, was $1,050 now $703 via Neiman Marcus.

Here’s English model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, sporting neutral tones in an effort to blend in with the common airport folk in Sydney, Australia, but to no avail – that bright red Gucci Bamboo Shopping Tote and her general supermodel good looks gave her away almost instantly. Try as you might, you cannot take a bad photo of this chick. You can snag Rosie’s Gucci bag for $1,890 at Neiman Marcus.

If you’d like a peek at Rosie’s rather extensive designer handbag collection, you can check out “The Many Bags of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley”. This Brit loves bright colors, supple textures and Burberry. She REALLY seems to love Burberry, but given her extensive history with the brand, it’s no surprise that more than a few of their better bags would end up in permanent rotation.

When I set my eyes on the Gucci Lady Lock Bags yesterday, I immediately thought of our recent discussion on carrying designer bags to the office. Although some of these bags (especially the ones with bamboo handles) are a bit recognizable, the overall look – subtle, refined, totally elegant – strikes me as one that could find itself at home in even a conservative work environment, especially in non-exotic leathers. Think of it as the kindler, gentler alternative to the Gucci Lady Buckle Bags. (more…)

One of my favorite things about fashion is that it gives people permission to be impractical. Sometimes you need a pair of six-inch heels that you can’t exactly walk in or a dress that fits correctly only when you’re standing up or a maxi skirt so voluminous that it gets caught under the wheels of your desk chair at work. (That last thing? A thing that I own. And wear to work. Often. Because I can.) Fashion lets people indulge the slightly frivolous sides of themselves, and although there aren’t as many opportunities for male frivolity as female, the Gucci Natural Python Duffel Bag is a strong opportunity for dudes to be a little ridiculous.

If you’ve ever had a python handbag before, you know that the material can be a little delicate. Although I trust Gucci to have treated this type of bag to make it reasonably wear-resistent, the fact remains – python just isn’t as hardy as regular cow leather. That’s ok, though, because in fashion, it doesn’t always have to be. Something can be made to be as beautiful as possible, even if it limits the items total functional usage a bit. This bag will still work just fine as a weekender, of course, but you or your dude will just have to take a little bit of extra care because of the snakeskin. For a bag this pretty, I think you can manage. I know I sure could. (Although I’m the girl constantly wheeling over her own maxi skirt, so maybe I’m overconfident in my abilities.) If you think you could treat this Gucci bag with the care it deserves, pick it up for $4,500 via Saks.

I remember the heyday of the hobo. Back when I first got into handbags, circa 2005, hobos were just as popular as crossbodies are today; they weren’t the flashiest It Bags on the scene, but they were the thing everyone had in their closets for when they needed to, you know, actually carry something functional. Then, of course, the era of the “optional crossbody strap” dawned, and after that, the straps weren’t so optional anymore – if you were carrying a shoulder bag, it had a long strap, with few exceptions. Trends are inevitably cyclical, though, so is it possible that hobos are ready for a comeback?

A couple of people have mentioned to me recently the idea that maybe hobos are ready to make a big splash, and I can’t help but think that I heard the same chatter a few seasons ago, to little avail. There will always be a market for hobos in the classic Gucci vein, but if women are used to having their bags a little further away from them – either crossbody or on a long shoulder strap – I doubt many will want to go back to stuffing a hobo in their armpit. (Seriously, why couldn’t those strap drops ever just be a little longer?) Every now and then, I break out a beloved Balenciaga Day Bag from 2007, but it rarely replaces my standard PS1 for more than a day or two – a longer shoulder strap just feels more modern and versatile, not to mention ideal for public transportation.

That last part is important, though. I seem to remember caring less about a bag’s structure when I drove myself everywhere, which is what the vast majority of Americans do, so my current existence in the bubble of New York City might be skewing my perception of the relative hobo-readiness of the rest of the country. At this point, I defer to you, our lovely readers: do you wish designers offered more exciting hobo options?

If you like the Gucci Emily Hobo Bag above, you can pick it up for $1,590 via Neiman Marcus.

Here are Leslie Mann and Cameron Diaz flashing designer bags on the set of The Other Woman in NYC. Leslie’s carrying a Gucci Emily Guccissima Shoulder Bag, while Cameron’s holding a Stella McCartney Falabella Fold-Over Clutch. Leslie’s bag is availabe at Gucci for $1,390. You can get the “pewter” version of Cameron’s Stella McCartney clutch for $995 at Neiman Marcus.

Your eyes don’t deceive you; that’s Cameron Diaz with a significant baby bump. Rest assured that you’re not behind on celebrity gossip – it’s only for the film. The Other Woman, by the way, is a about a gang of ladies exacting revenge on a serial cheater. Diaz plays the proverbial “other woman” in this case, while Leslie Mann plays her lover’s wife.

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