When Frida Giannini showed pretty, forties-influenced, floral-printed silk dresses and blouses in her first collection for Gucci, they were a commercial hit. This Fall, after veering through glam-rock disco and last summer's folkloric frocks, she returned to vintage-inspired dressmaking. "I've been reading a biography of Lee Miller, a woman who started off as a model, became a friend of the surrealists and then a war photographer for British Vogue—a strong woman with two sides to her," she explained, adding, "I was thinking about the dresses of the thirties and forties, with high waists and emphasis on the shoulder."

As a new proposition for Gucci in a less sexed-up era, the dresses worked. Giannini dropped the print and worked on a silhouette with puffed shoulders and narrow, long sleeves that hit the right note of covered-up femininity, albeit with little peeks of plunging neckline or naked back—this is still Gucci, after all. Since the idea of the forties is gaining traction this season, these dresses—especially the black finale glamour gowns with Schiaparelli-esque sun-ray embroideries at the shoulder—steered this part of the collection in line with the general direction of fashion at large.

By contrast, tweedy knickers and vaguely Tyrolean jackets in the daywear section seemed more out on a limb, and the big duffel tote—wielded as the season's must-have bag—missed the ineffable quality of "It," no matter how insistently it was shown. There were eye-catching pieces, though, like a tiny burgundy suede bomber trimmed with leather, inspired by Gucci's seventies archive, and a couple of assertively patchworked furs aimed squarely at the tastes of the brand's die-hard rock-chick faithful.