Gucci 101:
The Flora Motif

By The Rebag Team, May 16, 2022

Gucci Flora Hat

Flora is one of Gucci’s most famed motifs.

Conceived by artist and set designer Vittorio Accornero in 1966, the Gucci Flora motif started in the form of a scarf. The fantastical melange of flora and fauna composed of flowers, fruits, and insects consists of 37 colors against a stark white background. Today, Gucci Flora can be found on a number of Gucci accessories and handbags, as well as the house’s famed Gucci Flora fragrance.

The History Behind the Gucci Flora Motif

Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco may have been known for her role in the Alfred Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief before she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, but she was known for her fabulous sense of style. Hermès even officially named the now-iconic Kelly bag after she used it to block her face from the prying flashes of the paparazzi.

The Kelly name wasn’t the only thing in fashion inspired by the princess. Princess Grace was on a trip through Milan when she paid a visit to the Gucci boutique in 1960. At this point, the Italian fashion house had established itself as a global luxury label with stores in New York, Beverly Hills, and Palm Beach. Kelly selected one of Gucci’s bamboo-handled handbags. Rodolfo Gucci, the son of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci, wanted to gift the princess something special, but thought that nothing was up to par for a woman of such stature. So Gucci called on illustrator Vittorio Accornero to create something iconic for the Monegasque royal. He presented her with a bouquet of flowers on a scarf, in lieu of fresh flowers. 

Artist and set designer Vittorio Accornero originally created Gucci’s famed Flora print in the 1960s, and in 1966, the house unleashed the powerful design on a scarf. Composed of an intricately drawn, whimsical array of flowers, fruit, and insects in 37 colors against a white background, Flora would go on to become one of the Florentine house’s most recognizable motifs. Laid out in the form of a quincunx — defined by the Oxford Dictionary as an arrangement of five objects with four at the corners of a square or rectangle and the fifth at its center, used for the five on dice or playing cards, and in planting tree” — the Flora is composed of lilies, heather, tulips, anemones, buttercups, daffodils, bluebottles intertwined with butterflies, dragonflies, wasps, grasshoppers, and beetles crawling about their leaves. 

The Flora print drew instant comparisons to Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera, a 15th-century painting in the Uffizi Gallery. Like Gucci, Primavera (Spring), calls Florence its hometown, and like the Flora, it features a print with clusters of winding flowers. Look closely at the painting and you’ll see that one of the subjects is wearing a dress covered in a floral arrangement similar to that of the Flora. Accornero also referenced Vanitas, a genre of early 17th-century Dutch still-life painting that shows the “transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death” by depicting flora from each of the four seasons, signaling the cycle of life. Accornero marked the print by writing Gucci in cursive on a small piece of paper placed on the vines, along with a small “V. Accornero” to take credit for the print. 

Botticelli Primavera

Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera (1478-85) (Courtesy of Flickr)

Botticelli Primavera Flora

A detail shot of Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera (1478-85) (Courtesy of Uffizi Gallery)

The Flora was the first of at least 77 prints designed by Accornero for Gucci. The motif went beyond scarves in 1969, with a floral mini dress. Over the next two decades Gucci would place the Flora on tops, handbags, and ties. It was also a theme in Gucci’s first ready-to-wear collection that premiered in Florence in 1981. The motif would change according to the current trends. It found itself on t-shirts in the ‘80s. For Summer 2005, then-creative director Frida Giannini used Flora on the 2005 cruise collection, combining it with other emblems of the house’s identity, like bamboo and hardwear. Giannini used it throughout her tenure at the house. In 2009 Gucci released the Flora as a perfume. Alessandro Michele revived the Flora again, using it in the house’s centennial Gucci Aria collection. It was also used in the Balenciaga Gucci partnership.

Gucci Flora Sizing

Gucci Flora Special Editions and Range