Sara Gay Forden is a journalist and author of the book: The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed published by Harper Collins in 2001. She has covered the Italian fashion industry from Milan for more than 15 years, chronicling the explosion of labels including Gucci, Armani, Versace, Prada and Ferragamo from family ateliers into international powerhouse brands. On March 27, 1995, Maurizio Gucci, heir to the fashion dynasty, was killed by an unknown gunman as he approached his Milan office. In 1998, his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani Martinelli–nicknamed “The Black Widow” by the press–was sentenced to 29 years in prison, for arranging his murder. The movie, directed by Ridley Scott, stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, and Al Pacino. “House of Gucci”, based on Sara’s book about those events, premiered on November 9 in London. The New York Premiere is on Tuesday, November 16.
Sally Fischer is an Italophile working in public relations. Both Sara and Sally are currently living in the United States. Sara and Sally met in Italy a long time ago when they were both living and working there. In this conversation they discuss the book, the movie and the events that led to both.
On the morning of March 27th, 1995 four quick shots cracked through Milan’s elegant streets. Maurizio Gucci heir to the ….
Sara at the time of Maurizio Gucci’s death in 1995 were you covering GUCCI and their fashion business?
“At the time I was Bureau Chief and Business Correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily in Milan and was covering the efforts by Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford to turn the company around under Investcorp.”
Did you then start to cover the murder as well?“I covered the murder, the investigation and in 1997 news of the arrest of Patrizia Reggiani.”
Had you met Maurizio Gucci? What was he like?
“I first met Maurizio Gucci at a press conference he held in his luxurious new headquarters in Piazza San Fedele in Milan. He was charming and enthusiastic about his vision to relaunch Gucci as a top-tier Italian luxury brand at the level of Hermes.”
Did you follow the case in the courthouse?
“I took a sabbatical to write the book in 1998 and the trial started in May of that year. I was in court every week covering the testimony so that I could be sure to capture all the key moments for the book.”
Was this a difficult story to write about? Heartbreaking in every way.
“This was a daunting endeavor. Not only did I research the past, documenting the development of the brand under the family, but both the trial and the takeover battle between Bernard Arnault and François Pinault took off while I was writing the book. In addition, the fact that there were so many different points of view about the twists and turns, meant that I had to sift through all the material to try to balance out all the versions and represent the truth as closely as possible. And as you note, it’s a tragic story at the heart of it.?
When did you write the book, House of Gucci? Have there been updates to your story?
“The first edition, a hardcover, was published by Harper Collins in 2000. The paperback came out in 2001 with a new Epilogue. Then the audiobook came last year with an Afterword read by me. This fall, the movie-tie in edition with a new Afterword updating the highlights of the past 20 years came out by Custom House, a Harper Collins imprint. In Italy, the movie-tie in edition has just been published by Garzanti.”
Is your book fiction or non-fiction?
“This is a carefully researched work of non-fiction, but I used the techniques of fiction to tell the story, a style known as “literary journalism,” so it feels like you are reading a novel.”
I saw you at the premiere of the film The House of Gucci in London. What do you think of the film?
Are you pleased with the final result? Did you get to meet Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Irons (all present at the London Premiere!)
“The film is very impressive and it takes this already powerful narrative to another level. It conveys the arc of the story of the relationship between Maurizio and Patrizia and the family dynamic in a compelling way. My hat is off to the director, Ridley Scott, and his wife Giannina, who stuck with the project over years, as well as to the incredible cast. It was very exciting to be on the red carpet with all the stars in London!”
Did you enjoy the London premiere, any gossip or fun facts you can share? Maybe a post from your Instagram?
“The London premiere was like a “Cinderella moment” for me and my daughter, who was my guest. She was three years old when I started writing the book, which I dedicated to her, so she would understand one day why her mother was so distracted and working so hard all the time! Here’s a link to my author website: https://www.saragayforden.com/events-one/house-of-gucci-worldwide-movie-premiere-london
or my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saragayforden/?hl=en
As you know, I work with Jeremy Irons and I know you have shared with me that you enjoy his performance as Rodolfo Gucci (thank you!)
Did you have an opportunity to speak with Jeremy about the case and offer your thoughts?
“Jeremy Irons was the perfect actor to play Rodolfo, who was a dignified and reserved figure in the family. Jeremy has the stature and elegance that Rodolfo had, as well as that brooding, nostalgic sensibility as his Rodolfo reflected on his past as a silent film actor. I was pleased to be able to share my perspective with him when we met on the red carpet in London and found him simply delightful to chat with. What an honor!”
Other thoughts on cast members and cast?
“I thought House of Gucci was beautifully cast and it was evident that all the actors approached the movie and their roles with great passion, professionalism and commitment.”
Will you attend the New York premiere? Al Pacino we hear will be there as well!
“Yes! Can’t wait! And after that LA!”
We have known one another for many years as we both lived and worked in Italy. What are your thoughts about Italy today. Could this story still happen today in Milano?
“I am so grateful for our professional and personal friendship and how it has lasted over the years since I started covering the Italian fashion industry, with that first assignment at Pitti Uomo in Florence, where we first met. The murder of Maurizio Gucci in Milan in 1995 was a complete anomaly and a total shock. People weren’t shot in cold blood in Milan then and they aren’t now. I was just in Milan in September for the Gucci fashion event and to visit friends and I found the city to be incredibly beautiful, dynamic and vibrant. It’s having a terrific resurgence, which makes me happy to see.”
Is there an update of your book House of Gucci, published in 2000? Should I buy the updated version? If so, why?
“The new movie tie-in edition has a new Afterword that updates the highlights of the Gucci saga over the past 20 years since it was first published.”
Grazie Sara. So nice to chat with you. We all so enjoy getting in inside scoop on this fascinating, troubling story of a love affair gone wrong.
“My pleasure to share this conversation and our journey along the way over all these years!”