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Gucci: Love And Diplomacy

MILAN — Retailers loved it, but editors aren’t quite smitten yet.<BR><BR>That was the immediate reaction after the debut Gucci collection by Alessandra Facchinetti, who succeeded Tom Ford as the company’s ready-to-wear...

MILAN — Retailers loved it, but editors aren’t quite smitten yet.

That was the immediate reaction after the debut Gucci collection by Alessandra Facchinetti, who succeeded Tom Ford as the company’s ready-to-wear designer.

“I could hear an audible sigh of relief in the first row,” said Robert Burke, senior vice president of fashion and public relations at Bergdorf Goodman. “It was a strong, focused collection. It showed newness, and a more feminine hand, but it still had the signature Gucci sex appeal and a modern sensibility.”

Others shared his enthusiasm.

“I thought she did a terrific job,” said Joseph Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s rtw at Saks Fifth Avenue. “She maintained the sexiness and youth of Gucci and at the same time she added a feminine, softer touch to the designs. The color sense was very sophisticated and I thought the draping of the dresses was really beautiful. You could feel the hand of a woman. And the accessories were fantastic.”

Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus, said Facchinetti kept the “Gucci spirit” alive. “It was hot and sexy,” she said. “There were certainly a lot of looks for ladies with good bodies. I would say she’s off to a good start.”

Jennifer Woo, president of Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford, said, “I thought it was beautiful. I saw a lot of Tom in it. It was a good effort. The accessories looked good.”

Fashion editors expressed more measured praise.

Anna Wintour, editor in chief of American Vogue, left immediately after the show to catch a plane for a family commitment. But she urged patience, as designers need time to adapt to new challenges. “She has to evolve and move herself away from Tom’s shadow,” Wintour said. “I think [this collection] will be a first step, but not the definitive statement.”

Hal Rubenstein, fashion director of In Style, said the collection honored the legacy of “sensuality and luxury” at Gucci — perhaps too much so. “There was a lot going on in those clothes, almost an overload of Gucci,” he said.

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Carine Roitfeld, editor in chief of French Vogue and a muse of Ford’s during his long Gucci reign, weighed her words carefully.

“There was definitely the spirit of the Gucci woman, and I think she is a Gucci woman herself and that is the force,” Roitfeld said. “It was smart not to make too big of a transition. I think she did a good job.”

Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure, said Facchinetti wisely carried forward Ford’s “Gucci language, which was a smart thing to do. She hasn’t fully identified her own signature, but that’s understandable.”

Wells drew an analogy to a restaurant, saying it’s not fair to judge it on the first day it opens. “This woman has big shoes to fill, and it’s too soon to fill them,” she said. “It’s still in formation.”