‘House of Gucci’ review: Debi Mazar’s documentary on iconic fashion house

Written by Staff Writer at CNN “House of Gucci,” Debi Mazar’s new documentary about the Italian fashion house, opens with images of Gucci’s iconic House of Milan logo and kicks off with scenes of…

'House of Gucci' review: Debi Mazar's documentary on iconic fashion house

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

“House of Gucci,” Debi Mazar’s new documentary about the Italian fashion house, opens with images of Gucci’s iconic House of Milan logo and kicks off with scenes of the iconic Abbey Road studio.

Mazar’s 96-minute film, starring American actor/musician Steven Van Zandt, charts the late Gianni Versace’s, Dolce & Gabbana’s and Alexander McQueen’s fortunes at the pop culture crossroads and why they changed the fashion world forever.

The film does, however, present two glaring issues: the first being that some of the brands’ most famous items don’t receive the full treatment they deserve.

Here, rather than examine exactly what has been in store for Gucci’s ubiquitous (and unwieldy) Marilyn Monroe hat, the film makes a half-hearted attempt to explore the history behind the ubiquitous (and unwieldy) dress.

Apart from this, we get to see Giuseppe Zanotti’s Chinese python-print trainers and Luisa Beccaria’s zebra-print shoes, whose immortal movements can now be viewed alongside the faces of Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Rachel Weisz.

Through other, well-known items of Gucci’s pedigree (as seen in Louis Vuitton’s “On the Road” campaign) the documentary also displays less stuffy images, from the first Gucci logo to Sergio Rossi’s shoes, courtesy of Fluid, an agency in Los Angeles.

But despite its attempts to not treat the famous things as eye candy, the film does them that despite being done with the most dated design technology imaginable: infra-red.

Each time we see one of Gucci’s high-profile archive items it’s presented in a pixelated animation rather than being displayed in 3D graphics, with the added annoyance of the images and video being tucked away behind dramatic black-and-white photography.

Debi Mazar Credit: Taylor Jewell

No one at Gucci can be seen here in the director’s chair, and although Alexander McQueen is voiced by Emma Thompson, in one of the film’s few curveballs his voice is, well, rather tinny, merely overlaid over his glorious images.

But then, perhaps it wouldn’t be “House of Gucci” if it really did get it right.

One thing is clear though: it takes a few minutes for the film to get going and yet, despite trying, it finds it difficult to distinguish itself from the high-powered chatter of who else has designed what when McQueen’s Vogue friend Anna Wintour looms large.

Emma Thompson, Jennifer Saunders, Tracey Emin, Ethan Hawke and Vanessa Paradis, however, help prove that it isn’t all about the brands.

Although the documentary is partly fact-based, the main intention appears to be to shine a light on various individuals who have influenced fashion, both giants and up-and-coming talents, with an emphasis on female talent.

Looking back at the history of international fashion, the fashion industry has been chiefly occupied by men, without much attention paid to women’s dress.

While this new generation of role models may not help solve the problems of women in the fashion industry, they do prove how much forward-thinking work is happening — as revealed in every trailer shot.

The many videos on Instagram showed the film playing live on any number of screens around the world, so it was easy to see how, despite countless years working for Gucci and the press coverage, Mazar was able to bring its subjects to life in a fresh and fresh way.

Click through the gallery above to see some behind-the-scenes clips and images from the documentary.

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