Frida Giannini

OUTSPOKEN FRIDA: She may have stayed away from the spotlight for a few years, but clearly Frida Giannini has been watching the fashion industry.

The former Gucci creative director, who was among the speakers on the first of the virtual five-day Milan Fashion Global Summit on Monday, during her career never tried too hard to hobnob with press — she always preferred to focus on her own role as a designer — and now that she works as a consultant is not worried about expressing her opinions on the fashion system.

“I feel a bit disoriented,” she said, referring to what she defined as epochal changes that occurred in the fashion industry over the past five years. “There are conversations going on about a new designer to choose for a brand based on the number of followers that this person has on social media,” she said. “If you are selected because of your followers, the music you listen to or the people you have seated front-row, I don’t really know what to tell you, but I wonder how long you are going to last in that position?”

Giannini also criticized the proliferation of successful brands that only succeed in selling T-shirts, sneakers and bags. “When your customers have bought your T-shirts, your sneakers, your duffel bag, what else can they buy?” she said, adding that she is noticing an excessive use of logos. “When I was at Gucci I was using the logo in a very discreet way, matching it with precious skin, they were telling me I was too commercial. And now, there is this overexposure of logos,” she said.

During the interview, Giannini said her dream job would be at Chanel or Hermès. “Especially, Hermès needs to be refreshed,” she said, adding, however, that she expected that “a French designer will [always] be selected for those French labels.”

Giannini also sees a lot of potential at Emilio Pucci, a brand she thinks can be relaunched by working on different product categories, as she explained. “However, there are issues between the main stakeholder [LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton] and the family. I worked for many years for a family brand and I know the challenges.”

The designer highlighted the unexpressed potential of another Italian brand, Salvatore Ferragamo. “It has a recognizable logo and a worldwide reputation,” Giannini said. “But it needs to be rejuvenated and get more exciting.” Surely, the designer is not trying to build a relationship with Salvatore Ferragamo’s creative director Paul Andrew.

Giannini spoke highly only of her friend, Dior artistic director of women’s Maria Grazia Chiuri, “the only woman at the helm of a huge brand in an industry that is still a male lobby” and “who is able to see luxury products,” and of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who “really believe in luxury and are investing in haute jewelry and haute couture. It’s a great example of Made in Italy.”

During the summit, other speakers took the virtual stage, including Dries Van Noten, Mugler creative director Casey Cadwallader and Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing, who said the brand will present the men’s and women’s collections together in March.