The seventies were Gucci's decade - both first time round, and when revived so sensationally by Tom Ford twenty years later - so it's understandable that their ghost still haunts the house's catwalk even during its ninetieth birthday celebrations. They've been on Frida Giannini's mind for a couple of seasons now, in collections that came across as veritable paens to Yves Saint Laurent's ever-influential back-catalogue.
For spring 2012, however, Giannini took a different tack. Maybe that birthday was what got her thinking about the sleek, streamlined and ever-modern lines of the twenties: then again, that interwar period was a seventies preoccupation, fashion's first excursion into unabashed retro.
Giannini's collection was more about the themes of the twenties than its actuality - bar a few fringed Flapper dresses that could have slipped out of a stage show of Cabaret (one even came with an ostrich-plumed clutch fit for Josephine Baker). The androgynous Garconne was evoked in slicked-back hair and sharp-trousered suiting, neat-shouldered jackets cropped high on the waist and sometimes sparkling with embroidery.
This show was sharp and slick, filled with graphic lines and shiny reflective surfaces. Giannini called it 'Hard Deco'. But isn't deco hard enough already, especially when played out in a restrained - or maybe restricted - palette of ochre, acid green, gold and monochrome. That lean, mean spectrum couldn't have contrasted more sharply with the rich, saturated colour of Giannini's 2011 offerings.
It wasn't just the colour that was missing: so too was the blowsy, voluptuous sensuality that made those two womenswear outings such knock-outs. There were a few echoes left, and this collection's softer moments were its best. Whiplash riding-crop prints like fragments of Gucci silk scarves scrolled across a pair of fluid palazzo trousers and bisected an emerald shift-dress with fluttery hips and cut-out back. Unlike the rest of this collection, that had a touch of the divine decadence that once made both the twenties - and Gucci - truly roar.