By  on June 5, 2006

Emerging this year as Gucci's sole creative voice, Frida Giannini is leading the brand through its next incarnation.

One of Frida Giannini’s bedtime rituals is making sure that she has a notepad on her bedside table for when she wakes up in the middle of the night with a flash for a bag or heel shape.

“My husband is used to my 24/7 work attitude. He laughs when I wake up, jot down an idea and fall back asleep,” chuckled Giannini, Gucci’s creative director. “That’s why he banned my BlackBerry during our honeymoon in Capri.”

Technology aside, Giovanni Battista Guida, a Florentine Web designer with whom Giannini tied the knot last July, has grown accustomed to his wife’s nocturnal splurges due to her increased duties and responsibilities.

“Forget resting on your laurels, even in between collections,” said Giannini, who clocks 11-hour workdays. “The adrenalin rush is continuous, to the point I need to refrain in my private life because it takes me forever to unwind. On one hand, I exhaust my staff with a constant flow of ideas; on the other, they are stimulated by my energy.”

Giannini went from Gucci handbag designer in 2002 to sole creative director in March for accessories and men’s and women’s apparel, succeeding Alessandra Facchinetti, who was women’s ready-to-wear designer, and John Ray, who headed men’s design.

To complicate matters, as sole creative director, she followed in the footsteps of Tom Ford, the man whose long-term vision took Gucci from ailing company to megabrand. Despite initial concerns about Ford’s departure, Giannini’s Gucci has seen “excellent sales,” according to PPR, which reported brand sales up 18.2 percent in the first quarter ended March 31, to 508.3 million euros, or $611.2 million.

At 33, Giannini said Ford’s contribution to Gucci, and to the fashion world in general, is well engraved in her mind. “Because of my age, I associate Gucci with Tom’s glammed-out, sexy woman. I forced my parents to buy me the ruched and fringed black dress with embroidery from Ford’s spring 1999 hippie collection and I still wear it,” recalled Giannini.

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