Paging Marella Agnelli and Marisa Berenson. At Gucci today, Frida
Giannini conjured their glory days (and those of early Italian
ready-to-wear), as seen through the lenses of photographers like Richard
Avedon and Gian Paolo Barbieri. As night-and-day different from her
brooding Fall outing as could be, the show opened up-up-upbeat, with a
narrow tunic belted over full trousers in azalea pink. It set a late-sixties/early-seventies vibe and a feel-good mood that the designer
called "aristographic." Aristo Charlotte Casiraghi took it all in from
the front row.
"I love to play with color for Spring," Giannini said backstage, and play she did. In addition to that bright pink, there was cobalt, citrus yellow, coral, and turquoise, each one as vibrant as the next and worn head-to-quite-literally-toe with sunglasses, bags, and shoes matched to outfits. It wasn't subtle, but subtlety, at least in terms of palette, wasn't the designer's game this season. Plastic necklaces and earrings were designed to look, as she put it, "like fake Liz Taylor."
Still, color was only part of the message. Silhouette was a big story. Tunic and trouser combinations have been getting major play lately, and Giannini is positioning herself as a serious proponent for Spring. She believes in ruffles—tracing the single sleeve of a column dress, arcing around the shoulders and down the back of another, adding major drama to an otherwise quite minimal V-neck gown. Cutouts also played a starring role, upping the provocation factor and giving these polished clothes a modern update. Giannini looked east for the collection's prints but not in any obvious way. A karung motif was stamped on a crisp Japanese paper fabric and the floral was inspired by Japanese wallpaper.
For evening, the designer opted to show only black and white. It made for a strong endnote, especially in the cases of a stunning long white dress with coral jewels embroidering the neckline and another in black with ruffles outlining a completely bare back. The international jet set looks different now than it did in Agnelli and Berenson's heyday. As Europe continues to struggle, new economies flourish—witness the top clients Gucci flew in from around the globe for this runway show. Still, sophisticated looks like those two dresses cross all borders. Perhaps now more than ever, we all yearn for a slice of the good life, don't we?