MILAN — Finding a new theme for Gucci’s UNICEF holiday campaign seems to stimulate Frida Giannini as much as designing a new bag.
This story first appeared in the August 31, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
For the upcoming “Gucci Campaign to Benefit UNICEF” project, now in its fifth run, the house’s creative director teamed with author and illustrator Michael Roberts to publish a children’s book titled “Snowman in Africa.”
The colorful and whimsical tome is the sequel to Roberts’ “Snowman in Paradise” book published in 2004. The book will be on sale in 200 Gucci stores worldwide and on gucci.com for $25 from Nov. 16 to Dec. 31. All proceeds will go to UNICEF and book-signing events are scheduled in Gucci flagships in New York, Paris and London.
Stressing the collaboration came about spontaneously, Giannini said she feels “Roberts has the ability to talk to the heart of children in a language that is very close to them.”
The designer added she is fascinated by Roberts’ collages and unique way of producing imagery. “He did not hesitate for a moment when I asked him to collaborate on the project,” said Giannini. “[The book] will allow us to continue making a difference to many children.”
Concurrent with the launch of “Snowman in Africa,” Giannini has created a series of accessories and a first-ever gift card decorated with illustrations from the book, the value of which will range from $50 to $5,000.
On the accessories front, Giannini designed two new medium-sized Joy bags incorporating Roberts’ quirky designs, one with an elephant and foliage print and the other featuring snowman-in-the-jungle embroidery on logoed canvas.
There will also be key rings and add-on charms shaped as characters from the book, alongside printed small leathergoods.
Twenty-five percent of sales from those items will be contributed to UNICEF.
Roberts, who is happy with the chance to revive his snowman, said, “Thanks to Gucci and UNICEF, the snowman has the opportunity to ride again and is now off to Africa. It is particularly appropriate that Gucci, an Italian company, is involved in his latest adventure as the initial Snowman idea was born at a friend’s house in Venice over Christmas 2001.”
But the snowman isn’t the only one traveling.
For the first time since she started the project — which so far has raised $7 million for the U.N. charity — Giannini in early November will fly to Malawi to meet some of the children and UNICEF workers whom Gucci is assisting.
“I have wanted to go to Africa for some time now, but unfortunately my schedule did not allow me to go earlier. Now this trip to Africa has become urgent both on a corporate and personal level,” said Giannini.
The Gucci UNICEF campaign has supported education, health care, protection and clean water programs for children and orphans affected by HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
This year it has added South Africa to the regions it will support, along with Malawi and Mozambique.