Gucci: Alessandra Facchinetti did what she had to do. Whatever nerves the newly ascended Gucci designer may have felt in the days and weeks leading up to her maiden performance for the house, backstage on Thursday she seemed utterly cool and in control. But she must have felt the eyes of the fashion world upon her. After all the speculation, hype and dust-settling, she was about to publicly assume the mantle of one of the most successful designers of the last decade, whose final show was his best ever.

Facchinetti’s mandate was clear and specific from the start: to carry on at Gucci along the course established by Tom Ford. She started in the circular foyer of the show space at the hotel Diana Majestic where, instead of filling colossal urns with flowers, she had myriad orchids dripping from the center chandelier. Inside, the high-polish runway also looked very Fordian.

“I believe in [the Gucci look],” Facchinetti said during a visit to New York this summer. “I love Gucci. I love how it was before.” And while acknowledging the likelihood of a natural seasonal progression, she added, “that doesn’t mean that the woman is someone else. She’s still the same.”

The customer is the same, but the designer is not. Before the show, Facchinetti said her aim was to continue the deeply ingrained Gucci attitude established by Ford while making her first collection “less schematic, with a more real element.” Certainly the clothes retained that essential take-no-prisoners sexuality, as well as some familiar silhouettes. Facchinetti took very specific house standards and worked them her way — a move that should please retailers who may have worried about a sea change unsettling to consumers. Thus, the small jackets, low-slung pants and corseted constructions all got ample play. There were also super sexed-up, barely-there swimsuits, and even a sprinkle from above — tiny sparkles rather than rose petals — to announce the arrival of the racy evening section. Throughout, many of the clothes looked quite strong, and they clearly sent the message that, for now, at least, an aesthetic revolution is not part of the Gucci game plan. As for the accessories, while none of Frida Giannini’s newly softened shoulder bags leapt off the runway, they were lovely enough, as were the gold sandals with pebbled heels.

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