To best understand Frida Giannini's approach to her Gucci Pre-Fall collection, it helps to look down. There, you will either find a towering 108-mm platform ankle bootie or the iconic Gucci horse-bit loafer, which celebrated its sixtieth anniversary this year. What might seem like a binary proposition—blue-blood flat versus hyper-glamorous heel—is really just Giannini exploring the Janus aspect of the Gucci woman: that is, looking back and looking ahead.

The official line is that the collection represents the "Gucci essentials," the elements of which include sharp hues (fuchsia, brick, bumblebee, azure), controlled volume, amped-up outerwear, and a masculine-feminine mix. Giannini collided colors so close on the spectrum that they produced a new twist on monochromatic. At times, she emphasized layering. But then she showed a day-to-night dress with generous sleeves offset by a butterfly-shaped basque—as complete a look as it gets. Twice she hybridized the classic Perfecto: elongating it into a dress coat and covering it in extra-plush gray shearling. Bookmark both now.

Zoom out to take the collection in full, and it's clear that Gucci's signature sex appeal has been outdone by sleek sportswear this season. It's as if Giannini is saying that luxe fabrications—a leather shirt as thin as rice paper and a chubby in goat and Mongolian lamb fur—should not be dismissed as impractical. Ditto the deerskin cap, which adds a finishing street-chic touch to the majority of looks. Notably, Giannini has also revived the embossed Diamante pattern, applying it to the entire range of bags. It dates back to the thirties, making it one of the brand's oldest codes. It is subtler than the GG monogram and, essentially, bridges past and future.