Italian temptresses and jet-setting fillies will be thrilled with Frida Giannini’s offering for S/S 2013. Not content with being the designer that killed Gucci’s famed association with sex, Giannini hung up her pretty Flora print – it had one last hurrah for Resort – and last season’s inky hues and opted for a fresh palette of attention-grabbing brights, nodding to those brilliant jewel tones that characterised her smash hit S/S 2011 showcase. Hot pink, grass green and electric blue formed the basis of this collection, which drew inspiration from the long limbs and pert assets of Richard Avedon and Gian Paolo Barbieri’s best girls.
Giannini’s fascination with late sixties and early seventies silhouettes continued. Dresses came long and lithe with a plethora of retro sleeves – bishop, flute and kimono – while neat high-neck tunics were layered over matching flared trousers, accessorised with opulent coral and turquoise jewels. Ruffles were a big theme, constructed from layers of gazar and applied to shoulders, arms and necklines. Not a particularly new idea – Lanvin S/S 2008 anyone? – but suitably dramatic to catch the attention of Gucci’s moneyed shopper. At points the collection veered from ‘artistocratic purism’ to ‘Colleen Rooney at the races’ – perhaps one too many bell sleeves for my liking - but all in all the strongest pieces were the most sensual, the Gucci woman, after all, is not one to hold back. The figure-hugging column dresses, scooped low at the back and high at the thigh, and the playful mini dresses – one of which came out in a delightful mustard yellow, slashed to the navel and edged with python-like silk lame jacquard - suggested a real confidence from Giannini, reaffirmed by her bold culling of many of the commercial bells and whistles that have previously overpowered her collections.
Giannini’s decision to close the showing with a set of brilliant white full-length looks was always going to draw comparisons with the omnipresent pimp of the Gucci hey-day, Tom Ford. Anja Rubik’s closing strut in a cleavage-bearing slinky gown was an obvious homage to Georgina Grenville's finale turn at Ford’s last hurrah at the brand for A/W 2004, which in itself was a reprise of the dresses from his favourite collection from 1996 (meta!). Maybe it was the neat slicked-back hair or perhaps the towering patent stilettoes, which forced the models to trot down the runway like preened race horses, but Giannini’s girls still seemed more severe than their nineties counterparts. Despite a healthy dose of side-boob and inner thigh on show, they were somehow untouchable - loftily ‘aristocratic’ just as Giannini intended. Will her more serious approach eventually mark ‘a new aesthetic dynasty’ for the brand, as her show notes stated? Or was this merely a grown-up version of the Gucci erotic DNA? Either way, it was nice to see those old classics again.