There was a time, long before Tom Ford arrived to revolutionize Gucci, when the brand was part of the glamorous Roman decadence that surged up around movie stars and aristocracy from the fifties to the seventies. Not for nothing, the term paparazzo was coined in Rome, the epicenter of La Dolce Vita. At the time, Rome was seething with couturiers—the young Valentino, Capucci, Simonetta, Princess Galitzine, and many others—and Gucci supplied the stars with handmade bags, luggage, and equestrian equipment. Rome became the place that defined an opulent, privileged summertime lifestyle after the deprivation of World War II—a fantasy of yachts, nightclubs, and beaches that was often shot (on aristocratic models like Marisa Berenson and Veruschka) in the fashion photography of Richard Avedon and Gian Paolo Barbieri.
Not for nothing, either, is Frida Giannini a Roman-born designer. She lives in the contemporary world, of course, but for spring she was referencing those photographers and filtering a long-lost memory of late-sixties and early-seventies couturelike principessa glamour into her collection. In Giannini’s front row sat a modern aristocrat, the equestrian show-jumper Charlotte Casiraghi, who Gucci kits out for her sport. She was wearing a tailored denim pantsuit.
All this background might suffice to explain where Giannini’s looks are rooted—in a time when sporty-chic Italian women wore tailored crepe tunics over pants for day, and changed (for the endless parties in palazzi) into dramatic couture dresses (on which great, upstanding frills at the shoulder were a feature) extravagantly accessorized with ever-more opulent jewelry. In our twenty-first-century culture, the ritual of showing dresses like this, constrained to a darkened runway, with models walking up and down, is one we’ve become accustomed to. But, really, in order to look their best, these clothes need to live in the sun; they should be shown in the sybaritic context of wherever wealthy girls take their vacations next year.
Photos: Photo: Yannis Vlamos/GoRunway.com