by Alex R. Travers
Since joining Gucci in 2002 and taking over as creative director in 2006, Frida Giannini has made her mark at the Italian luxury-and-leather-goods label. In her best men’s collection in several seasons, the designer decided to focus on color and then discard it completely. She drew inspiration from the Canadian artist Kris Knight. “I wanted a lighter atmosphere,” said the designer. While Knight’s color palette is undeniably light, the characters he depicts are ambiguous—both sexually and emotionally—and dark. One critic defined Knight’s subjects as “innocent and erotic, vulnerable, yet seductive.” You could say quite the same about Giannini’s man for Gucci today. Except that virginal/perverse dialogue made for a show that left you wanting more and more. Not only were the clothes—leather jackets, peacoats, knits, and wool pants—exceptional in both texture and tailoring, but her transition from day to evening told a story that shifted between narratives of naïveté and raw confidence.
Those ideas, in fact, reflected the theme of yesterday’s Prada show. Both designers did, after all, reduce their clothes to basics. They also paraded some of the best examples of color blocking down the runway in recent years. Whether the models were dressed in pale blue tops and light maroon pants or sand shirts and blood orange trousers, the compositions were eye-catching—sometimes obviously, other times unknowingly. Lapels and blazers had contrasting textures, too: leather and wool, leather and velvet. And, like Mrs. P, Mrs. G did not send a single print or embellishment down the runway. Giannini’s backdrop, however, was a black canvas that eliminated the shadows so important to the context of the Prada show. But the stark effect made Gucci’s pastels shine. The chiaroscuros were especially evident in the runway photos—how her collection will appear to the public until the campaign is released.
Giannini’s personal touches were also marked on today’s catwalk. One, for example, came at a quiet moment early in the show where she revealed her favorite piece from the Gucci archives—a brown leather bag with a bamboo handle, a special item to the designer. When the Gucci Museo opened back in 2011, fashion journalist Suzy Menkes asked Gucci’s creative director about her most cherished accessory: “If you had to choose one piece, which would it be?” Giannini’s answer, “The bamboo bag.” Perhaps that bag was the designer’s way of directly injecting her aesthetic in the collection.
Alain Delon Jr., son of the famous French businessman/actor once called the male Brigitte Bardot, closed the show in a jet-black tuxedo with leather lapels. That cinematic reference reinforced the notion that you were watching Frida’s Gucci. And being that there’s usually a connection between the men’s and the women’s shows, it will be a treat to see what outfits—and models—she sends down the runway next month.