One thing many people wonder when they visit Florence is how they can possibly choose which museums to visit. After all, there is a stunning array of choices, most focused on Renaissance art. If you are needing a break from frescoes and religious artwork, however, fashion might be a good way to explore something different that is a true part of Florence’s past and present. The Gucci Museum in Florence is one of the paying museums and is not, to my knowledge, included in most museum packages and cards, but if you have an interest in fashion, it is definitely worth a visit nonetheless.

The museum is organized by important periods in the work of Gucci, from his beginning as a creator of high-fashion luggage to the label’s more recent exploration and investment in high fashion for the red carpet. Each room has its own explanations presented on elegant postcards that are included in admission. One of the most interesting rooms to me was the floral room, where Gucci floral designs are displayed; floral prints on everything from china to dresses. Notable in this room in particular is an original Gucci scarf designed and given to Princess Grace of Monaco.

The favorite room of many, however, is the red carpet dresses room, where red carpet dresses worn by everyone from Blake Lively, in the label’s debut, to other famous actresses. The dresses are displayed on dress forms in low lighting, and you can get nearly as close to them as you want. A video in the room shows photographs of the actresses in the gowns when they were worn.

Notable in the museum is the foundation’s commitment to film restoration; in one room visitors can view the Italian films that have thus far been restored.

Also unique to the Gucci museum is a contemporary art gallery supported by the foundation; the exhibit changes every few months.

Throughout the entire museum it is easy to see how Gucci pulls in classics from the past, updating them for the modern woman. The museum is not only a look at Gucci’s work but also at the history of twentieth century women’s fashion. One major thing that I learned about Gucci was that he spent a good deal of time working in England during his younger years, and it is the upper middle class of the British that inspired many of his designs; the horse bit used as a handle for a bag, his designs incorporated into picnic sets, et cetera. For those with a passion for fashion, the Gucci museum is a bargain look at its history through the eyes of one designer.

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