In an obvious so there to those critical of her last collection, the program notes for Frida Giannini’s spring show made a reference to fall’s “trend-setting bohemian collection.” And so it was; Gucci looks are all over Zara. The argument that they seem more appropriate to such a venue than to the upper echelons of luxury fashion hasn’t put a damper on sales of the real thing, even in the United States, where everyone knows that almost nothing is selling. Given that background, the collection Giannini showed on Wednesday, dubbed “Gucci Exotica,” looks like another commercial winner.
The notes went on to say the lineup targets “the pleasure-seeking Gucci adventurer who wants to escape, and explore.” But not too far; these clothes bore all the exotica of a piñata party in Portsmouth. That, however, might be their genius. Ample anecdotal evidence suggests that most people aren’t interested in stylistic risk-taking, while many fall into the antisobriety camp. Gucci is right up the sartorial alley of such gals. By day, Giannini offered them three key ideas: lean, snappy suits with low-slung pants, fedoras adding that certain je ne sais gangster; lively, leggy micro caftans in bold prints and tricked-out safari looks. Save for the last category, everything came in vivid color — turquoise, purple, bright green. So, too, did the eveningwear, floating visions in silk jersey and chiffon, some of which seemed mired in an identity crisis: Am I Talitha Getty or Eydie Gormé?
And oh, yes. The extras. Gucci’s roots are in accessories, as are those of its designer, and neither fact could have been more apparent. Giannini piled on the merch with gusto, piece after piece that shouted, “Buy me!”: hats; the New Jackie bags, bigger, softer with giant whipstitching; python backpacks; chokers, long chains, and terrific, earthy jewelry flashing multiple big, flat-cut agate and amethyst stones.
As she took her bow, Giannini graciously stopped to acknowledge a front-row occupant. Her partner in the house’s wild ride has been Mark Lee, who leaves his post as president in December. Giannini kissed him and allowed him to share in the applause. “In 12 years, it’s the first time I’ve sat for a show,” he said, noting that Giannini had asked him to do so. “I spent all night thinking about it and finally decided, yes. It was very sweet. But remember,” he added, modestly and definitively, “Gucci will always be Gucci.”