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Gucci’s Giannini Blossoms

MILAN — In her first solo effort as creative director of accessories at Gucci in the post-Tom Ford era, Frida Giannini has taken inspiration from the house’s history and added a contemporary twist.<BR><BR>Judging by retailers’...

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MILAN — In her first solo effort as creative director of accessories at Gucci in the post-Tom Ford era, Frida Giannini has taken inspiration from the house’s history and added a contemporary twist.

Judging by retailers’ feedback, it’s a winning touch. Wholesale unit sales of accessories within the cruise 2005 collection grew by more than 20 percent from last year, said a Gucci spokeswoman, who attributed the increase largely to Giannini’s collection, called Flora.

The line of handbags, small leather goods, shoes, swimsuits and towels is part of Gucci’s cruise collection slated to bow in stores worldwide in November.

Giannini was inspired by an iconic silk scarf by the same name designed in 1966 for Grace Kelly. The princess of Monaco put in a request for a colorful and exuberant design and Rodolfo Gucci, son of founder Guccio Gucci, asked Italian artist Vittorio Accornero to assist. Accornero created the Flora pattern in 37 colors, with a selection of flowers from each season. The design was originally conceived as a single painting, so the allover print does not repeat, which is more economical and easier to manufacture.

The Flora collection revisits Gucci’s iconic bags: the hobo, the Jackie and the bamboo. The bags come in small, medium or large sizes in cotton canvas, some with embroidery. For an evening look, there is a clutch bag in silk satin with a closure made with Swarovski crystals. Retail prices range from $695 to $3,450.

There are also two silk satin sandals in the line: an open-toe style with Gucci’s signature bit decoration and a platform with wraparound ribbons on the ankles.

Giannini said she felt “really lucky” to be able to remake Gucci classics.

“It has an exceptional evocative strength but at the same time it is very modern,” she said, adding this is not an exact replica of the past, but a contemporary interpretation.

The spokeswoman said the “worldwide reaction to the Flora collection has been extremely positive, and in particular in the U.S. and Europe. [Buyers] have loved the idea of having a pattern that belongs to the Gucci tradition, reinterpreted in a fresh and young way.”

In the U.S. and Europe, wholesale sales of cruise handbags have grown by 70 percent compared with 2004. The footwear division grew 25 percent in the U.S. and 40 percent in Europe.

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