Express has long admired older Italian men with crisp blue eyes and impeccable taste in handbags. Tragically, some pretty important totes are missing.

U.S. Airways lost the luggage of Giorgio Gucci — the third-generation heir to the House of Gucci — on his recent trip to the U.S. to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Giorgio G. cognacs. The bags contained $50,000 worth of vintage and custom-made Gucci designs.

So Gucci was forced to don a JoS. A. Bank suit for his sidetrip to D.C., where he spoke to Congress last week about intellectual property infringement in the fashion industry. Despite the circumstances, the 83-year-old graciously agreed to reflect on style icons, familial discipline and the Gucci of yesteryear, before family infighting nearly killed the company.

How are you celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Giorgio G. cognacs? Among my other versions of cognacs, I thought I could dedicate one of the different types of cognac to the 10th anniversary of my new enterprise, Giorgio G. Since the Gucci family gave up interest in the Gucci Corporation, I thought I at least wanted to dedicate them to 10 years of Giorgio G.

The House of Gucci has been around for over a century. That’s quite an achievement.
Yes, of course. I am Giorgio. I am the representative of the third generation of Gucci. Of course, my grandfather Guccio Gucci started it in 1905 as an enterprise. Particularly, I have always liked the creation of the line and designing amongst the family.

You personally designed handbags for icons such as Audrey Hepburn. What’s it like to design for such fashionable women?
This is a lady that I had the pleasure of working with. I think I was about 25 years old. She was one of our important customers. My father allowed me to attend to her. He had been very severe on certain principles, which I thank him for this. I obeyed his discipline, which I wish now my sons would attend to, but the years are different now than the past.

How so?
I remember my uncles and father used to give … ah, we say, when you speak, you use the “tu” to a friend and “Lei” to a person you don’t know. At that time you would say “voi” or “yours” to the grandfather and my father would say, it’s like saying “Your majesty.” It is something you would say to a person you respect very much but that you don’t have confidence with. But just imagine the different mentality and discipline that existed then.

What do you think Gucci symbolizes to the rest of the world?
The policy of Gucci was to present and offer to the public what we thought was our look, which we didn’t compromise. We never said “This is for the American market. This is for Europe. This is for Japan.” No. We offered only the Gucci product. This was something that not everyone was fond of because it had a certain classic look that was not so popular. Our dedicated customers were accustomed to a certain level. They were given assurance that whatever we offered had good taste. A mark. It was a guarantee and not too fussy, too lousy. And we never compromised.