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.

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