If the seventies were the louche, languid stomping ground of Tom Ford's Gucci - a reclamation of sexual indulgence after the buttoned-up recession-hit and AIDS-decimated late eighties and early nineties, or so the fashion history books will say - then Frida Giannini's decade of choice seems to be the sixties. She strays from it, sometimes, but certainly her Gucci men seem perennially skinny and Modish, jackets chopped high on the hip, trousers seamed in at the calf.
The distinction between sixties and seventies, however, is interesting on levels other than merely the aesthetic. Ford experienced the seventies first-hand. There was nostalgia in his vision, but it was a nostalgia for his own misspent youth. Giannini has no such connection with the sixties - maybe that's the root of some of the issues with her appropriation of the decade. There's no real honesty behind it. For Giannini, that decade exists purely in films, vintage rags and on the pages of a few dusty fashion magazines. And, of course, on the Gucci catwalk.
Autumn/Winter 2012 was no exception. It was also nothing exceptional. The Gucci formula of taut-trousered daywear, extravagant evening and excess baggage was expounded on a midnight-blue carpet, deep and lustrous. The shades of the clothes were lotus-eater jewel-tones of amethyst, jade and sapphire in rich velvets and iridescent jacquards - Giannini saw it as 'Bohemian grunge', somehow, presumably a reference to the moneyed sixties aristocratic youths she could see getting messy in her tweeds and brocades. But grunge was inherently anti-fashion fashion, a step on from deconstruction. There was none of that on the Gucci catwalk: 'grunge' was just a buzz-word to put on a page, a sound-bite without anything to really get your teeth into.
It's churlish to complain as - besides the ill-judged and lumpy rose-strewn velvet evening jackets with slightly saggy satin trousers - there was nothing that bad on the Gucci catwalk. But it felt like a simple parade of polished, deluxe product rather than a new or exciting statement about what men should look like come next winter. Ultimately, the lack of fresh air at Gucci was slightly stifling.