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THE GUCCIS ARE REALLY NOT HAPPY About ‘House of Gucci’

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Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani in “House of Gucci.” Credit...Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

When artistic license collides with reality, which one wins?

By Vanessa Friedman

The fractious Gucci family, whose internecine power struggles famously helped it lose the company Guccio Gucci founded in 1921, has finally found common cause once again.

The reason for the family’s reunification: “House of Gucci,” the 24-carat camp drama framed in pigskin about the murder of the family scion Maurizio Gucci. The film, starring Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, the spurned wife who commissioned the hit, and Adam Driver as Maurizio, opened in the United States last week, bringing 10 members of the dynasty back together to protest what they believe is a distortion of history, the family name and the brand they made.

The descendants of Aldo Gucci, one of the three sons of Guccio, and the man who turned the Florentine leather brand into a global sensation (and who is played in the film by Al Pacino as a sort of rumpled, prosciutto-spewing American cartoon of a Mafioso) issued a statement, reading: “Although the film claims to tell the ‘true story’ of the family, the narrative is anything but accurate, depicting Aldo Gucci — president of the company for 30 years — and other members of the Gucci family who were the protagonists of well-documented events, as hooligans, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them.”

It went on: “Even more censurable is the baffling reconstruction of events that advocate leniency toward a woman who was definitively convicted as the instigator of Maurizio Gucci’s murder. To see her portrayed as a victim — not only in the film but also in statements by the cast — who is trying to survive in a male-dominated corporate culture, is an injustice and could not be further from the truth.”

Public relations representatives for the film said that neither the producers nor Ridley Scott, the director, could be reached to respond to the family’s statement. Lady Gaga has acknowledged that she did not engage with Ms. Reggiani (who has expressed her displeasure about not being consulted), or even read the book on which the film was based, the better to create her character from her own imagination, she has said.

In response to earlier criticisms from Patrizia Gucci (a daughter of Paolo Gucci, played by Jared Leto as a dolt of a designer in a bad corduroy suit) that the filmmakers were exploiting a family tragedy for Hollywood profit, Mr. Scott said on the BBC “Today” show: “I don’t engage with that. You have to remember that one Gucci was murdered and another went to jail for tax evasion, so you can’t be talking to me about making a profit. As soon as you do that, you become part of the public domain.”

The suggestion being: Once you’re in the public domain, your story is not your own. An assumption presumably exacerbated if your ancestors have deliberately transformed your family name into a brand that they then sold to the world. It’s kind of like saying they swapped the family soul for fame and filthy lucre, so tough luck.

It’s also why the family decided to take the fight public. It may seem like a squabble in a green-and-red horse-bit-tinged teacup, but at a time when the distinction between what is fact and what is fiction has become evermore porous, when the concept of so-called alternative facts has became a part of the general discourse, and when viewers tend to believe whatever they see onscreen (big or little), it has resonance that goes beyond the box office.

Patrizia Reggiani in the 1980s.
Patrizia Reggiani in the 1980s.Credit…Ipa/Shutterstock

Sure, the Guccis are interested in perpetuating the aura of their own taste (even though they no longer have a financial relationship with Gucci the brand, they are deeply attached to the name). But that doesn’t mean their concerns are without merit. As Lady Gaga said in a British Vogue article, “I did my very best to play the truth.” But whose truth?

Not, the Gucci family says, theirs. According to Patricia Gucci, the family began discussing the possibility of a joint statement a month or so ago, after the breathless reaction on social media to early trailers suggested there would be a wholesale embrace of Mr. Scott’s version and after earlier attempts by the family to contact the film’s producers before the movie was even in production were never returned.

On one level, this is not a surprise. For as long as there have been biopics, the people on whose lives they have been based (or the people with a stake in the lives on which they have been based) have often felt shortchanged or otherwise misrepresented by the result.

Michael Oher was not happy with “The Blind Side,” nor Mark Zuckerberg with “The Social Network.” And there’s an entire industry in complaining about what “The Crown” gets wrong. “Based on a true story” is effectively creative code for “some artistic license involved,” which is itself shorthand for sacrificing fact to dramatic imperative and story arc.

Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci.
Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci.Credit…Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

As it happens, “Gucci” takes the caveats a step further, with the opening disclaimer “inspired by a true story,” a signal that the filmmakers may have taken more liberties than usual. (Another signal: All the characters speak English in various versions of fake Italian accents, a much-derided choice that makes no sense.)

Yet the film is not presented as magical realism, nor even overt satire. It is based on the nonfiction book by Sara Gay Forden, “The House of Gucci: A True Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed,” and none of the names have been changed, creating an expectation that what the viewer is seeing is at least a plausible re-creation of a historical truth. There has been much discussion of the attention to period detail when it comes to the wardrobes — so ’70s and ’80s fabulous! Even some from the actual Gucci archive itself!

But a cursory and noncomprehensive list of some of the changes the filmmakers made includes: the erasure of three of Aldo’s four children (who were also in the family business); the deletion of Dawn Mello, a key figure in the Gucci renaissance under Maurizio and his outside partner, Investcorp (and a female power player); the collapsing of various outside lawyers and bankers into the single figure of Domenico De Sole, who has been turned into a Tom Hagen figure à la “The Godfather” who not only does professional dirty work but also personal; and the fast-forwarding of Tom Ford’s breakthrough collection to associate it with Maurizio’s leadership (not true; nor did it involve men or Gucci G-strings — those came years later).

Such reduction can often be excused in the name of art and story streamlining: plot details that matter only to insiders. And the actual Gucci saga, with its competing boardroom power plays, was convoluted at the best of times. At a time of limited attention spans, you can understand why it seemed better left on the cutting room floor.

Except that there is also another element that has also been elided in the film: the reason any of it mattered in the first place.

Maurizio Gucci in the 1980s.
Maurizio Gucci in the 1980s.Credit… Ipa/Shutterstock

For that you have to go back to the myth of elegance, craft and a bit of flash encapsulated by the word “Gucci” that made the products — the shoes and bags and clothes — desirable as markers of both aspiration and achievement. And that was created largely by the exact characters the film turns into caricatures, embracing the showy trappings of success — furs! Ferraris! — to gussy up a rotten core. They may be entertaining to watch (Jared Leto and Lady Gaga may even get Oscar nominations out of it), but as tastemakers they are impossible to believe.

By most accounts, Aldo and even Paolo, not simply Maurizio and Rodolfo, were magnetic figures whose carriage reflected the soignée substance of what they were selling — and, indeed, helped sell it.

In a recent review of the film for Air Mail, Tom Ford, who had a front-row seat to the whole story (though not the precise one depicted in the film), wrote: “In real life, none of it was camp. It was at times absurd, but ultimately it was tragic.” The lack of nuance in the movie made him, he wrote, “deeply sad.” In a phone call, Domenico De Sole said much the same.

In their statement the family said it reserves the right to “protect its name, image, and dignity,” which sounds like yet another Gucci case might be the offing. But Patricia Gucci (who is currently embroiled in a different lawsuit, in which one of her daughters is suing her ex-husband for childhood sexual abuse, and she is named as a co-defendant) said there are no such plans; they are leaving it to the court of public opinion for now.

Will it make a difference? It’s easy to dismiss the complaints as the whining of sore losers who are obsessed with image over all. But it’s exactly that image that formed a totem of identity that is part of the story of how we got to here: how so-called craft became a value unto itself and fashion vaulted from being a bunch of small family-run businesses into a global part of pop culture.

And that in turn is part of what made the movie itself worth making, because that’s why a corporate and family crisis exploded into closets around the world. It’s part of why, since the film’s release, searches for Gucci products have gone into the stratosphere; according to the global fashion marketplace lovethesales.com, up 257 percent for Gucci bags alone.

To miss that seems not so much like creating art and more like fake news. And in that case, no one really wins.

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times.

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56-YR-OLD EVANGELIST EUCHARIA ANUNOBI CRIES OUT, SAYS SHE NEEDS A MAN TO MARRY HER

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Eucharia Anunobi

Legendary Nollywood actress turned Evangelist Eucharia Anunobi, has affirmed that she is urgently in need of a man to settle down with.

In an interview with BBC Igbo, the 56-year-old Eucharia reveals her utmost concern about settling down. In 2006, It was gathered that the actress’s marriage to her ex-husband, Mr Charles Edwu, ended after six years of marriage.

Eucharia’s marriage to Charles birthed Raymond who was an only child but sadly died from complications linked with sickle cell anaemia at age 15.

“Please, I use this opportunity and tell the world that I want to marry urgently. A great man should show himself and put a ring on this finger of mine.

My specification is a man who is God-fearing and handsome. He must be up to the task, having everything that makes a man male. You must be complete, that’s all I can say.”

Eucharia who recently reacted to the news making rounds on social media platforms about her alleged affair with a 27-years old colleague named Lucky Oparah.

In the opinion to information that went viral, the lovely actress holds an English Language degree, is apparently in love with Lucky and might likely end up walking down the aisle with him.

The soft-spoken veteran screen diva didn’t debunk nor take part in the allegations of her lover boy, however, she said it was a disgusting report.

“Sorry! This is the height of witchcraft!

How demonic and absolutely disgusting. It is well. It’s really well,” she said.

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AMVCA FALLOUT: DRAMA AFTER, SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS

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Erica-Nlewedim

Fans of Nollywood actors and content creators have continued to bask in the euphoria of their favorites’ winnings at the last Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while keeping tab on social media trends, however, observed that the AMVCA was followed by drama as regards some celebrities’ outfits to the awards.

On May 15, former Big Brother Naija housemate, Ifu Enada’s outfit to the AMVCA was the topic as some fans were dazzled while some condemned the outfit which was designed by popular designer, Toyin Lawani (Tiannah Empire).

In response to those condemning her outfit, Ifu Enada, in a long post on her Instagram page, said, “My entire look is worth over 100k USD. Yes you read that right. So if you don’t have a minimum of 10k USD in a domiciliary account, you have no right to speak on my look. Basically, stay away from criticising my outfit if you’re broke.”

Within seconds, “$100,000” started to trend on Twitter, with fans asking if her clothes truly worth the amount.

The aftermath of the AMVCA drama continued on Monday ,when a stylist called out actress Dorcas Shola-Faison over debt on the clothes she wore to the AMVCA.

The actress, however, refused to respond to the allegation but later posted a picture on her Instagram page where she made a sign of the curse word with her middle finger and captioned it “your opinion”.

On the same day, popular British-Nigerian singer, Azeez Fashola, known as Naira Marley announced that his new album titled “God’s Timing’s The Best” , is to be released on May 30.

Nollywod also mourned the death of actor Leo Mezie, who reportedly died after a long battle with kidney disease.

On Tuesday, Nigerian flutist with cross-cultural Itsekiri and Swiss roots, TeeMac, celebrated his birthday as fans and colleagues poured encomiums on him.

American rapper, Jonathan Kirk, popularly known as Dababy, also trended after he shared a video of himself buying popcorn for $100 in Lagos traffic.

NAN reports that Dababy was in Nigeria to shoot a music video with  popular Nigerian singer, Davido.

Nigerian comedian and content creator, Josh Alfred, known as Josh2funny, was also celebrated on Tuesday after he welcomed a baby boy with his wife, Bina Alfred.

On Wednesday, popular Nigerian singer, Olamide Adedeji, led  the trend on social media after he posted a video of himself dancing to a song by Zazu crooner, Habeeb Okikiola, popularly known as Portable.

On Thursday, American rapper DaBaby’s Lagos trip also caused a friction between Nigerian rapper, MI Abaga and journalist Joey Akan. Both traded words on social media after the journalist allegedly accused MI and other rappers of feeling entitled.

On the same day, reports leaked that Barbadian singer, Rihanna and American rapper, A$AP Rocky had welcomed their first child, a baby boy. Although there were reports that the baby arrived on Friday, May 13. The couple are however yet to announce the news.

On Friday, Nollywood actor, Blossom Chukwujekwu, tied the knot with his bride, Ehinome Akhuemokhan in Edo. Chukwujekwu, who recently divorced his ex-wife flaunted the picture of his new bride on his Instagram page.

Also, Ayinla, a movie on the story of late Nigerian Apala musician, Ayinla Omowura, directed by veteran filmmaker, Tunde Kelani, trended as soon as it started showing on Netflix.

On Saturday, award winning Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele trended in the early hours of the day, when her step son, Benito, made some allegations against her.

Benito on his Instagram page alleged that the actress doesn’t treat her workers well to the point of calling them names. He also alleged that the actress and her husband, his dad, had both cheated on themselves.

A Twitter user, OMOTAYO of Lagos@Tee_Classiquem1, however,  wrote, “But why is everyone accusing Funke Akindele of treating her workers badly? I mean I’ve seen her use her platform to bring people like Toyo baby, Kiki, James, Adaku, Timini and others to limelight, is this a form of gang up against her or is there something we really don’t know?”

Funke Akindele, however, appeared unbothered as she posted a video on her Instagram page where she showed off her awards with her crew members. (NAN)

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YOUNG JONN…REBIRTH OF THE WICKED PRODUCER

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Music Producer-Young Jonn

At the turn of the 2010s, one name began to gain massive prominence across every dance floor in the Nigerian music industry – “Young Jonn the wicked producer.”

With chart-topping hits blaring through our stereos, in the songs from Olamide (Story For The Gods), Kizz Daniel (Mama), Lil Kesh (Shoki), among others, this young maverick hacked the template to become an ear candy, with his music production wits. However, with Young Jonn the surprises never really end. With the same enigmatic radicalism that coloured his productions, the 27-year-old musical whiz is now making a massive wave as a singer and songwriter. And his rebirth is not just a laudable addition to the league of producers-cum-singers; with his just-released debut EP – a 5-track sound piece dubbed, Love Is Not Enough (LINE), the musician morphs into one of the most vibrant hitmakers of this generation.

With the lead single off the EP – a mid-tempo groove dubbed Dada – dominating the airwaves, Young Jonn’s new musical baptism sets the pace for other singer-producers. Again, as the remix of the fan-favourite Dada, with Davido, begins to take Young Jonn’s popularity as a singer to the next level, it is clear that Young Jonn is back and he is here to stay, convincing every ear that listens to his love-themed melodies on the prowess of his talent.

The Chocolate City music producer and singer speaks to Guardian Life, delving into his inspiration behind his transition, his creative process, as well as his new life as a musician.

Congratulations on your transition. How does it feel?

So far, the energy has been great; it’s been wonderful.

Since when did you know you wanted to sing?

Well, I’ve always been recording. I just never really focused on it like that, you know. Overtime, I just found my way back to it. So, yeah, that’s the way I am.

When did you start?

I’ve always been recording right from time – my vocals… sound recordings and all are on my phone. I’ve always been doing that. I’ve just never really shared my music with anyone. But now, I think I’m ready to.

But did you tell anyone?

I can’t really say that I knew I’d ever get to this point at all. I’ve always loved music and all of that, but at the time, my head was totally in a different space. You get what I mean?

I just never put in the effort, or the ginger. I didn’t focus on all of that, like I didn’t really share my music with people. So, it was just I and a couple of my friends, those people that knew I sing. Everybody listens to my music; we just didn’t really put it out.

So, what drew you to music in the first place and how did you start this journey?

Music has always been a major part of me. Growing up, my mum used to play the saxophone; she used to play the guitar too. She was a chorister, you know. I’ve always been embedded in that, like musical foundation and all of that. My dad is a pastor, so I grew up in church playing the keyboard, drums- basically like that. That was how music got into my bloodstream. One way or the other, I’ve always been on this path.

You’ve always had that musical background, but did you have other ambitions?

I wanted to be a footballer.

Why didn’t you pursue that dream?

Funny enough, I dey try o; I still play very well. Just that the way life directs you… life has a plan for everybody. But yeah, initially, I wanted to be a footballer and I was really working towards it, but somehow, it didn’t work.

What do you want your sound to be like? What’s the direction?

Well, the direction I can say is, my music is a basic expression of what is going on in my mind; different moments define different things. So, hopefully, my music is headed to the greatest phase – let me just put it like that.

All we can do is hope for the best. So, yeah, regarding work, I’m working so hard on these things to know that I can go as far as I can imagine it to be.

What inspired the new EP?

LINE is the short form of ‘Love is not Enough.’ By saying love is not enough, I’m not trying to be an advocate for no love or hard guy; that’s not even the point of ‘Love is not Enough.’ In my own context, I feel like love is not sufficient for all the things we thought it was.

When I’m talking about love, I’m not just talking about the romantic side of love, because I’m big on love. I am big on family love, love between friends, you know. I realised that as good as love feels, it’s not really as sufficient as we thought. Love is never enough for anything. So, that was the space I was in when I was creating the project.

Let’s talk about the EP’s lead single. The remix with Davido is making a lot of rounds. Why did you pick him for it?

Davido supported the original song. He has always been supportive of me and I thought it would only be right for me to have him on the remix. I reached out to him and he said he would love to jump on it and that was it. If I’m being honest, he was a great choice because I couldn’t have thought of anyone else to complement my track in a good way. I mean, listen to that verse and see how hard He went on it, it’s lovely.

How do you feel about the current reception you have received for the record?

I’m truly blessed to have everyone supporting me like this. Big shout out to me and my team Chocolate City for putting in the work to get this done. The results have been far amazing cause I wouldn’t say I never expected this, but yeah I’m happy things are going as we planned.

Tell us about your creative process?

My creative process is very stress free. I love creating music whether as a producer or as an artist and thanks to God it’s something I’m really good at. So I just always make sure I enjoy myself while doing what I love basically .

As someone behind the sounds for a long time, what aspect do you think we are still lagging behind in the industry?

To be honest, I’ve always been involved with everything. So I just really think as an industry we are doing well and crossing boundaries and that’s growth.

Do you think Afrobeats can dominate the global music industry?

Yes, anything is possible with music. There are no boundaries with music and Afrobeats is definitely taking over the world very soon, we are already taking over in fact.

What’s your favourite sound to make? What do you see yourself doing now, in terms of genres?

Honesty, I won’t really say that I have a favourite genre like that. As long as it’s sweet, as long as it makes me feel good, you know what I mean. I am more attached to the fitting than the tag; you understand?!

So, does it feel intimidating knowing you are going to have to walk your way up as a singer?

Funny enough, it doesn’t. I mean, I love a good challenge; that’s me. Anybody that knows me would tell you these are the kind of things I like. I love looking forward to something. You know, working on something and looking forward to it. I like a profitable job. So, yeah, I am glad to go all the way through.

Finally, tell us one thing people don’t really know about you?

Alright, I don’t always feel comfortable when I am on water- like I easily get sea sick.

THE GUARDIAN

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