Taking risks is what all serious, admirable and gutsy designers are obliged, indeed designed to do.
Which is what Gucci's creative director Frida Giannini did this season with an aristocratic vision of next season, a technically complicated display of triple layered chiffon and long-necked highborn style. Though Gucci was founded with the goal of creating beautiful novel products for the Grand Hotel frequenting class of pre-war Europe, ultimately what also separates it from its Italian rivals is sizzle, panache and a charming sense of decadence. Which, we're afraid, is what was lacking in this polished show staged Wednesday, Sept. 19, in Milan, the opening day of the Italian spring 2013 collections.
Giannini has been a truly expert hand when it comes to accessorizing and "blinging" out a look. Her shows are always as much about the bag, the scarves, the shoes, and the sunglasses as they are about the clothes. For next spring, Giannini opted to zero in on a demanding blown up silhouette with puff sleeves, endless ruffles cascading around the neckline and deep armpits. All this came in a nostalgic palette of pinks, canary yellows and mustards - all reminiscent the show's inspiration, the super well dressed aristos captured by Richard Avedon, most notably the portrait of Mariella Agnelli, defiant with a hyper trophous neck.
However, the very fact that these clothes did not work on some of the world's most beautiful girls led by Anja Rubik and Karmen Pedaru was telling. There was also a certain costume vibe to the show, explained by Gucci's proximity to classic Hollywood cinema and the use of top notch stars in the house's ad campaigns, notably newlywed Blake Lively in the current ads.
However, none of this seemed in synch with the current mood of sporty fashion, where designers are celebrating health rather than self-indulgence.
That's not to say that this was a weak collection, since it did bring Gucci into new territory with its grand dame cutting of tulip sleeves, lasso collars and Flamenco dancer open back verve. Moreover, a trio of lizard print dresses and matching clutches in real snakeskin had tremendous pep. What woman could ever refuse one of the rather divine bunch of grapes precious necklaces, destined to be Red Carpet hits. A terrain where Gucci has brilliantly re-written the rules, with its laudable and spectacular soirees to celebrate the restoration of classic movies, all paid for generously by the Tuscan brand.
And yet, this Portico poised chic while smartly done was not an important fashion moment. Merely, an admirable attempt.