Gucci designer Frida Giannini is very taken with all those iconic sixties bohos, the louche-living set that was headed up by the Rolling Stones and the Gettys—Talitha and John Paul, Jr., the latter of which she name-checked in the notes for her latest men's show.
Fact is, once you stripped him of his caftan and ethnic doodads, JPG Jr. was pretty much like any other wannabe sixties groover in his skinny suit and foulard. And that Nothing Special quality was unfortunately what his presence bestowed on this Gucci collection. When she took over at the house, Giannini was regularly lambasted for the flash and trash of her work, but that Roman vulgarity brought something spicy and new to the Gucci table. As she has grown up and into the job, that's been sidelined by an increasingly respectful trawl through the archives.
What Giannini is doing is too rich to be bland, but it has definitely lost some of its flavor. Today's show was a perfect capsule of Gucci jet-set emblems: the sheen-y silk/mohair suit, the chocolate brown safari suit, the rawhide leather jacket, the suede-fronted cardigan, the Indian-embroidered denim shirt, the silk jacquard evening jacket. Giannini moved onto this haute bourgeois turf last season, but as much as she loaded up on the camel coats then, she'd also insert a wingy jacket in midnight blue ponyskin or ocelot print. The equivalent this time around was the silk jacket with the tone-on-tone horse bit-and-stirrup design, an entirely sober tip of the cap to the house heritage.
Intriguingly, the most compelling section was a group in natural organic cotton—a safari suit, a peacoat, jean jacket, biker jacket. It had the same ghostly presence as undyed denim, and it felt like the most modern stuff on the catwalk. The fact that Giannini could put it there, in amidst her JPG Jr. memorial gear, means you still have to watch this girl.