Friday, September 28, 2007

Milan Fashion Week Special - Profile Of Gucci Designer Frida Giannini

Photograph courtesy of Gucci.
Gucci's spring/summer 08 show at Milan Fashion week was a mix of tempered femininity, elegance and wearability. Nonetheless, the show has managed to split the critics. Gucci's vision is driven by Frida Giannini, creative director for the label. Giannini made her first steps in high fashion at Fendi where she worked both in ready-to-wear and then in leather accessories. She continued to work with accessories, in particular handbags, when she transferred to Gucci in 2002 as "Handbag Design Director". Successively more high-profile roles have been added: creative director of accessories, creative director of women's ready to wear and then, finally, in 2006, she was named sole creative director of the label.

During her tenure in accessories at Gucci, Giannini was responsible for the reissue and reinterpretation of several of the label's key historical designs. "Flora" the delicate floral pattern favored by Grace Kelly, amongst others, proved popular all over again and was used on bags, scarves and shoes. The other historical designs and their modern counterparts have made Gucci a driving force in the accessories market. Of course, Giannini has built on the earlier success of the legendary Tom Ford, who can be held largely responsible for the reinvigoration of Gucci in the 90s (along with Domenico de Sole, former CEO). Indeed, Ford's shoes have been large ones to fill. His vision for "Gucci" woman was so definite and well-thought out: a vision of overt sexuality. The slinky white dress with the cut out hip embellished by a curvaceous gold buckle was an iconic fashion moment, as was Ford's sexy, for-women interpretation of male eveningwear (tailored, body-hugging pants, with a vibrant, but not crass, satin shirt tucked in).

Nonetheless, Giannini seems to have her own vision of the Gucci woman and it is proving to be successful, both aesthetically and commercially. She designs with the modern woman clearly in mind: sexy yes, but in a more restrained way; feminine, but not saccharine; wearable, but chic. Following on from the impressive, lush, noir-inspired fall/winter range which is currently in stores, the new spring/summer range is a celebration of this "Gucci woman". Working with a mainly monochrome palette (a bold idea for spring/summer), enlivened by splashes of egg-yolk yellow and blush pink, Giannini produced a neat collection of easy-to-wear elegance.

Some critics did not give this collection quite such a warm reception, criticizing a lack of "coherence". Admittedly, some of the checked pieces were perhaps weaker than the rest of the collection. However, no-one is likely to buy every single piece from the runway and then wear each item in exactly the same way as was done on the runway. Nonetheless, pieces would work well mixed and matched with other brands and with other Gucci pieces. The jackets on display were particularly strong: either loose and unstructured or tiny and fitted. Short evening dresses were elegant and whimsical at the same time. Giannini's designs are for the modern woman who knows her own mind.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Information Is Power

Image courtesy of the Helen Bamber Foundation.
Here at Quis Sum? we believe that the best thing is to be as informed as possible about the world around us. Sadly, there are lots of dirty little secrets which are being swept under the collective carpet. We would like to direct our readers to the current campaign to raise awareness about the subject of sex trafficking. There is currently a large art installation in London's Trafalgar Square which seeks to raise awareness of some of the many issues surrounding this complex, little-discussed topic. The work takes the form of seven large shipping containers which chart the stages in one individual's journey from their homeland into sex slavery.
The installation is backed by the Helen Bamber foundation.
Please see for more details. A petition can also be signed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spotlight on.....Dover Street Market.

Photograph copyright Louisa McKenzie.
Dover Street Market is a neat, multi-level boutique on Dover Street in London. It is favoured by fashion insiders due to its range of highly-sought after but hard-to-find designers, for example L'Wren Scott, Charles Anastase and, of course, Comme des Garcons (the store was the brainchild of the founder of that firm). Accessories, especially those by Pierre Hardy, are especially sought after. In addition to clothes, shoes and bags, there is jewellery, a vintage section, watches, perfumes, collectibles and much, much more. I could recommend specific items, but Dover Street Market is such an Aladdin's Cave, stocked with items to suit all tastes, that it is far better for you to explore it for yourself. Men's and women's ranges are equally well represented. There is a wonderful cafe, Rose Bakery, on the top floor. Dover Street Market also has an e-shop selling limited edition items and originals.
Dover Street Market 17-18 Dover Street, London, W1S 4LT.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spotlight on.....Brocca.

Photograph copyright Louisa McKenzie.
Brocca is a wonderful jewel of a shop, to be found on the main shopping street in Venice, Italy. It is a small, yet incredibly well-stocked knitwear shop, which nearly groans with floor to ceiling shelving and has a huge amount of choice. It stocks both mens and womenswear, particularly jumpers, cardigans and scarves. Well-known ranges such as Missoni are present, as are other equally stunning but more unusual (and certainly cheaper) Italian ranges. The staff are very helpful and speak English if required. A "must" if you are ever in Venice.
Mercerie San Marco 4858
Tel. 041 522 6605.

Quick Tip.....Fresh Sugar Lip Gloss

Photograph copyright Louisa McKenzie.
This is a new addition to Fresh's make-up range, and it is a very welcome one at that. I am not usually a fan of lip gloss: I find it sticky and nasty. However, this example from Fresh has totally changed my mind and I am completely converted. It does not have the usual texture of a lip gloss. Indeed, based on Fresh's best-selling Sugar Lip Balm, it is more like a tinted lip balm than anything else. Lips are left feeling nourished and soothed. The gloss comes in 10 different colors, from the subtle to the bold. "Sugar Fairy" is great from imparting a natural, healthy color and shine.

Great New Bags For Fall - Tods' Pashmy Range

Photograph copyright Louisa McKenzie.
Sometimes a bag needs to be practical as well as stylish, especially if it is expensive. However, this is often like trying find the Holy Grail. This season, however, Tods have produced just such a range of bags which ticks both these boxes: the Pashmy range. The bags are made from "technical fabric", not leather and trimmed with patent edging and eye-catching, yet chic, gold hardware. The fabric is water-resistant (something which was well tested on a recent vaporetto ride in Venice) making the bags an excellent option for fall to winter. There are several different styles in the range, and several different colours. However, somewhat arbitrarily, all Tods stores don't stock all models. All models have comfortable carrying handles, good-sized external pockets and are lightweight. An excellent addition to any wardrobe.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Name To Watch From New York.....Jeremy Laing

It is always interesting to try to pick the next success story from amidst the up-and-coming designers at the shows. Jeremy Laing may very well prove to be the "next big thing" emanating from the NY shows. The Canadian designer announced himself at his third NY showing with a subtle collection featuring fluid drape, exquisite tailoring and magnificent surface effects. He is sure to find a market amongst women who like fashion to be simple and subtle, yet unusual and fresh.
Photographs courtesy of