Ten years after Tom Ford delivered his groundbreaking velvet boot-cut collection, something fresh has finally arrived to revive the buzz at Gucci. It's colorful, ripe with prints, full of feminine, seventies-flavored forties dresses, and it's by a 32-year-old woman, Frida Giannini. "We've come out of a long period of monochrome," she said. "And I love prints and colors. What I want to do is an intelligent kind of glamour for my generation. I think in this century, every woman wants a private life. You can explore more things than celebrity and the Oscars."
After Alessandra Facchinetti's two-season stint at Gucci, Giannini was promoted on the strength of her Flora-print accessory collection, the motif of which was lifted from a fifties Gucci scarf made for Grace Kelly. For spring, she started with boyish day suitsnarrow jackets with puffed shoulders, rugby shirts, and skinny mod pantsworn with flat patent boots emblazoned with Gucci horse bits. That look wasn't completely convincing top to toe, but when her print blouses with fluttery cap sleeves and above-the-knee dresses began to walk out, things looked up. Clearly influenced by Saint Laurent's famous 1970 forties collection, the shoes were high patent and suede platform ankle straps.
Giannini's take on Gucci's brand of sexy is more a matter of a bared back than an exposed front. She designed her long, linear "hostess" gowns with "a party with friends" in mind, rather than full-on occasions. A couple of them strayed into Rochas territory, but the best, a long cyclamen gown, and the finale, with its pin-tucked top, puff sleeves, and embroidered crystal flowers, had enough presence to go anywhere. Like Phoebe Philo at Chloé, Giannini is determined to set a mandate for a new kind of wearability. Whatever else this collection had going for it, it was different enough to prove that the page has been turned on the dark, erotic look of Tom Ford's nineties.