A season ago, Frida Giannini was pregnant and sending nipped-waist skirt suits and second-skin python dresses down the Gucci runway. There would be no slinking into one of those for her. Today, she took the label's Spring collection in a sporty new direction, with mesh T-shirts, basketball shorts, track pants, and exposed triangle bras. Post-baby, Giannini spent the summer working out. "I wanted to come back with my abs," she said backstage.

Well, it never hurts to design what you know. The show had a cool attitude, freer in silhouette and spirit than recent outings. It also keyed into what's happening on the street with the elevation of athletic clothes. There weren't sport sandals here, like we saw at Marc Jacobs last week—flats would be a step too far chez Gucci. Nonetheless, this was interesting new territory for Giannini, and, when you think about it, maybe not such a stretch for a house long known as a purveyor of equestrian gear.

Of course, this being Gucci, the collection was also undeniably luxe. That mesh T-shirt? Laser-cut suede. Another oversize tee came in tooled leather. As a counterpoint to the sports references, Giannini looked at the Art Nouveau illustrations of Erté, and the large-scale scrolling flowers, in silk jacquards or Lurex, decorating most of the pieces nearly glowed. Meanwhile, she borrowed the cut and drape of Japanese kimonos for jackets and robe coats. The show's signature look, worn by Bette Franke, married a see-through tee, triangle bra, and track pants with a kimono-sleeve cardigan in an Erté floral.

Morning workouts or no, Giannini's Gucci will always have a decadent streak. Not all of her glam sport ideas translated as well as Franke's—a green Lurex dress held together by bows at the sides, for example, wouldn't last the night on a dance floor, and other times all the crisscrossing straps started to muddle the seductive picture she was going for. Still, it's nice to see the designer loosen up.