Frida Giannini is a true connoisseur of doomed male beauties. No, it's not the James Franco connection, it's her name-check of Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as decadent teenage poet Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse that is the giveaway this season. Hands up to who saw that film. Well, she did, and it made enough of an impression that it emerged on today's Gucci catwalk as an inspiration. Looking at his track record, you might say the Gucci man has always tended toward the pleasure-seeking end of the spectrum, but Giannini nudged
his appetites into more shadowy territory with her new collection. She mentioned Helmut Berger, the actor whose profligate lifestyle defined a whole breed of proto-celebrity hog in the seventies as a reference point, and with him came a wave of Mitteleuropa flourishes: riding boots and equestrian trousers from a Viennese riding academy; dark, fin-de-siècle floral prints; tapestry travelling bags; silken tie prints used as the starting point for rich jacquards.
Giannini also employs the words "Visconti grunge" to convey the idea of something elaborately decorative but young and urgent. The tailored silhouette was whippet-thin, but over that she'd layer an oversize coat or a chunky cardigan, like the teen Rimbaud wearing his much older lover's clothes. The subtle excess of the collection came to a head with an evening finale of dévoré-ed velvets, laser-cut ponyskin, and a jacket threaded with black Lurex in a design that suggested seeping oil. It was alluringly outré—and that's a quality that can't go undenied in the face of Milan menswear's tame restraint.