"I've grown up. It's more mature clothes for more mature women, because that's what I am," Frida Giannini said after her show. She's only 38, and hardly middle-aged, but this season Giannini's designing seems to be hitting the kind of equilibrium Stella McCartney reached a couple of years back: the confidence to relax and not try too hard to be super-duper fashion-y. Things began with a calm opening exit of cream, dove gray, and barely there top-to-toe color—a couple of fitted dresses, a slim patchworked ostrich and suede coat shown with matching opaque tights and shoes. With that, Giannini deleted the expectation that this was to be a frenetic seasonal Gucci trend-grab. It was more about consolidating her look: the pants she's always been good at tailoring, put together with coats and fur-patched jackets with a believably glamorous daywear attitude.
Giannini quoted the nineties and the sixties in her program notes. Inescapably, that brings up Tom Ford, but the reference only really applied to the early boot-cut pants and GG logo phase of his career, when he himself was reanimating Gucci's earlier history as a manufacturer of sporty Italian separates. Giannini's pants, narrow and fluted just enough to fit over the shoe, looked proportionally right. They were flatteringly tailored over the backside (these things are crucial, after all) and great when paired with an A-line suede coat with a fox vest liner, or her several versions of cropped mélanged fur jackets.
When she showed dresses, Giannini ditched ultrashort for a slightly longer length, with leg-fitting suede thigh boots reaching up to the hemline—a way to be sexy without too much tarty-ness. All that, done within a pale palette of neutrals, meant she essentially had a new, quite refreshing look done and dusted. The Gucci finale parade of eveningwear—all short black dresses intercut with snake-patterned lace and ostrich—seemed more like going through the motions of a requisite brand ritual to keep up red-carpet business. That's part of the job description here, of course. But with this collection, Giannini's far more important achievement was to restore the idea that Gucci ready-to-wear might have a viable life in daylight.