Without film preservation, many important movies would be lost to deterioration. We report on Gucci’s support of celluloid classics.

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Anouk Aimee with a Gucci clutch in La Dolce Vita

The rise to prominence of brands and movements is often marked by cultural milestones: Apple had its 1984 Macintosh TVC breakthrough; Oasis and Manchester United’s ascent in the mid ’90s heralded Cool Britannia; and in the noughties, The Sopranos arrived to change HBO and TV storytelling forever.

In the case of Gucci, its glamorous rise was perhaps crystallised during Italy’s post-war period (circa 1950s and 1960s), when the country was rebuilding and restoring. In Rome, film studio Cinecitta – though created in the ’30s – had its Hollywood moment when American studios decided to shoot Ben-Hur and Quo Vadis there. The Vespa had its moment too, when Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn rode one through the city in Roman Holiday.

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During that golden era, the Fiat 500 was launched, Michelangelo Antonioni shot L’Avventura, and Hollywood stars brought glamour by flocking there to party (wearing and carrying Gucci, no less) and to pose for the paparazzi – a term coined after Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

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The brand has helped restore 10 films

Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini says: “This was a golden period in Gucci’s own history, when the house first emerged on the world stage, partly due to the visibility it received from its international jet-set clientele. It was, therefore, only natural for Gucci to honour this legacy.”

La Dolce Vita galvanised the whole starry scene, of course; its filming around Rome was a media event itself. Upon its release, it attained iconic status and won the Palme d’Or (at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival) for its depiction of – and scathing commentary on – the sweet life.

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The “before” and “after” versions of Once Upon a Time in America

Fifty years on, the film has lost none of its artistic power, but its negatives have aged. Modern viewers may not know or fully appreciate the influence of this black and white widescreen film if it hadn’t been properly looked after. Thankfully, The Film Foundation and Gucci stepped in – the film was properly restored in 1990. The foundation, created by Martin Scorsese (film restoration and appreciation has been the director’s passion for many decades) in 1990, has preserved and saved over 600 films.

On this brilliant classic, Scorsese says: “Fellini brought something new to Italian cinema. And with La Dolce Vita, he conquered the universe. It’s difficult to convey exactly how special the look of this picture was at the time, and thanks to the support of Gucci, we’ve been able to restore this film from the original widescreen negative and bring it back to its original splendour.”

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Giannini adds: “La Dolce Vita… paved the way for a new world with an obsession about style, fashion and celebrity. It was a period of profound transformation that also helped to export an Italian style that subsequently contributed to the country’s own cultural trademark around the world.”

It’s indeed a sweet, sweet record of film and fashion history.

This article was originally published in Female May 2014.