Frida Giannini Talks Gucci Guilty
In case you missed the Evan Rachel Wood-fronted ad visuals that hit the blogosphere last month—or that teaser of the Frank Miller-directed commercial that “leaked” onto the Internet a few weeks later—Gucci is launching a very high-profile, very highly publicized new fragrance. Guilty, as the geranium, lilac, and peach eau with the house’s signature patchouli dry down is called, finally bowed this week, and to echo the young, sexy, and daring Gucci woman the scent is created for—a woman who “doesn’t wait around for something to happen,” according to Frida Giannini—the Gucci creative director has made something big happen for herself: She’ll officially introduce the latest olfactory addition to her growing brand during the MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday. Viewers of the show, which played host to the Kanye West-Taylor Swift spectacle of 2009, will watch a somewhat less dramatic scene unfold when the full-length Guilty commercial-cum-short film—with a Depeche Mode-penned soundtrack to boot—debuts on Sunday. We caught up with Giannini before the premiere to discuss beauty (naturally), her Barbra Streisand shout-out, and shooting in the house that Fellini built.
Guilty is your fifth fragrance for Gucci, which pretty much makes you an old pro at this point. How does working on beauty relate to the more fashion-specific endeavors you produce for the house?
Creating something for beauty is very different. I had to learn and train to understand what goes into creating a fragrance and the scent. The timing is very different from creating a collection; it took two years to create Guilty! Deciding on the bottle design, packaging, the design of the elements, and the choice of the materials, however, are all very similar to designing an accessory.
How involved in the formulation process were you?
I was very involved from start to finish. In order to create the fragrance, I worked with P&G Prestige specialists to understand the right balance of the elements. We would brainstorm together first, then they’d come back to me with four to five different options. Then I would eliminate and pick which options fit the project. From there, we’d determine the right balance, if it was too sweet, too floral, or too strong on the skin. It’s a long process.
Sounds like it. What about the concept for the fragrance itself—how did that come about?
When we were thinking of the name, I knew I wanted it to be something that was very short and memorable. One day I was driving my car and I heard the song “Guilty” by Barbra Streisand, and I said, “OK—Guilty. We have the name!” Also, I was in love with the beautiful image of Barbra Streisand’s album cover with Kris Kristofferson, where she is embracing him and her arms look like the interlocking Gs on the fragrance bottle. I love this picture. This was also the inspiration for the print campaign.
Ah, yes. The print campaign. Why did you pick Evan Rachel Wood for this project?
I needed a strong female character, and I had known about Evan Rachel Wood for many years. When I had to choose the female character for the commercial, I thought about the role she played in The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke, and I knew she was it. I loved her attitude, and how she is sensual and sexy—very feminine but also very tough. She can change a lot and is expressive in her eyes.
Speaking of the commercial, this is your second big cinematic endeavor for a perfume launch, following your collaboration with David Lynch three years ago. Why did you go with Frank Miller this time around?
I’m obviously a big fan of Frank Miller and loved his work in Sin City. I knew Frank would create something very visionary and new, something very Gothic in a way.
Go on. What was this experience like, per se?
Filming the Guilty campaign in Rome in Cinecittà was a dream come true, because I grew up in Rome, and Cinecittà is one of the most important studios in the world. It plays such an important part in cinema and world history. In the sixties, all of the world’s best actresses, actors, and directors worked there. The first time I came to Studio 5, where we filmed the campaign, I felt a very strong emotion because it was the first studio that Federico Fellini used. I love Italian cinema, especially La Dolce Vita—a Fellini classic.
So you’re a film buff. What about music? Did you personally choose the Depeche Mode song used in the commercial?
Music for me is a fundamental part of my life. I have a big collection of records from the seventies and the eighties. I am a huge fan of Depeche Mode, so I thought of “Strangelove.” It’s the perfect fit, because it’s about a strange love; it’s a romantic song with a dark side. Then I had the idea to rework the song with a new band, Friendly Fires, which made it even fresher and younger.
Let’s talk bottle design. It’s so gorgeous, and the first time the brand’s signature interlocking Gs have been used in a fragrance. Where did this idea come from?
I wanted to create an object that you wanted to keep—something more than a common bottle. I was really intrigued by the idea of fusing the gold together with the transparent glass and having the logo, the interlocking Gs.
How would you describe your approach to beauty?
I have a gym session very early in the morning, so after the gym I take a shower and I love to use scented bath-and-shower gel. Then I put some cream on my face and some base for makeup. I have very dry skin, so I need to moisturize right when I get out of the shower, especially during the summer because I like to be tan—I’m Italian and love sun! But I always wear a lot of sunblock.
And as for your fragrance of choice?
I think fragrance is a very personal thing. It depends a lot on your mood, how you want to dress, how you want people to see you, and how you want to feel. It’s like a wardrobe, like your clothes. I like wearing Flora by Gucci in the summer and Gucci Guilty when I go out at night. I wear Gucci by Gucci, the first one I created, to the office.