(Getting a last-minute assignment can be really nerve-racking. But when I learned that I were to cover this event, I got excited and I knew I just couldn't say no. So with a Samsung Galaxy S5 on hand and after a quick trip to a Ramp Man sale, I took a deep breath marched on.)
I can never say Gucci without thinking extravagance and luxury. At times, I perceive the brand as a line of unreasonably priced leather goods coveted by celebrities and socialite matriarchs. But all of these changed when I got acquainted with the geniuses behind every carefully crafted handbag and wallet. Gucci just opened a new flagship store in the East Wing of Shangri-la Mall and last October 16 & 17, they held the first ever Artisan Corner in the Philippines wherein they invited the artists responsible for the production of the Gucci merchandise and brought their world renowned Florentine craftsmanship to our country.
Since the establishment of the brand, Gucci has always been known for their exquisite technique and dexterity. If their product is not proof enough, another way of substantiating their excellence is through letting their patrons witness almost the whole production process as the talented artisans visit selected stores all around the globe.
The Italian artificers demonstrated the production of their New Bamboo, Bamboo Shopper, Bright Diamante and Soho handbags, from selecting the raw materials, smoothing and finishing of the handles, precise stitching and threading of the interiors, and personalizing of each item through stamping and engraving. They even offered free embossing for previously purchased handbags which cannot be done anywhere else in the country. One of the artisans explained the procedures and materials while the others exhibited the detailed and intricate handwork.
According to them, each bag is composed of almost 160 pieces, some of which were imported from China and Malaysia, and is meticulously put together mostly by hand. What fascinated me the most among the whole process is the production and finishing of the bamboo handles. Due to the lack of raw materials, Gucci explored the use of bamboo roots as an alternative handle. The shellac used for the final treatment comes from the secretion of a specific insect on trees and branches. Gucci emphasizes that this does not in any way affect the environment because the bamboo roots that they use are specifically cultivated to serve this purpose. Amazingly, I see this stage as a strong non-destructive convergence of man and nature.
As the socialite patrons, mostly with a glass of sparkling champagne on hand, swarmed each station, I noticed that they were just as astounded as I was. They listened intently to the presentations and nodded in utter amazement. Everyone watched in admiration as the artisans showcased their precise workmanship and superb attention to detail. Even the celebrities who graced the event - Marian Rivera, Iza Calzado, Maggie Wilson-Consunji to name a few, were not able to hide their enthrallment with the demonstrations before them.
Putting everything into consideration, after everything that was staged before my eyes, I grew a higher level of respect for the brand. Watching the artisans at work made me feel like a little kid being given an all-access pass to Santa's workshop a few days before Christmas Day. The iconic, classic and precious designs prove that there is more to Gucci than meets the eye, or the bank account for that matter. Every item is a timeless masterpiece by the artisan in which a piece of their soul is transferred to which makes it worth the price. Gucci is more than just luxury, it is an identity established by passionate artists that will transcend time, generation and even technology.
More photos from the event:
Special thanks to Ms. Kai Magsanoc of Yahoo Ph for letting me cover the lavish event. (Whew!)