For last year’s spring / summer collection, Gucci creative director Frida Giannini paraded a selection of monochromatic suits in eye-catching lime, mustard and sunburnt orange, sparking a trend that would dominate the street style blogs in the following season. Worn by the likes of Luca Rubinacci and Lapo Elkann, the head-to-toe bright coloured suit was undeniably ‘in’.
All this is a validation of sorts for Giannini who was derided by critics back in 2006 for being off-trend with her collection of Flora bags (inspired by the house’s 1960s Grace Kelly scarf) when she was head of women’s accessories. Despite the reviews, the colourful bags eventually found favour with consumers and became an enormous commercial success.
This season, Giannini returns to the runway with a menswear collection that couldn’t be more on the money. On a sleek ivory catwalk, stepping out in time with the heady beats of Daft Punk’s ‘Contact’ (the pulsating climactic track from the duo’s latest album), models exited with luxurious looks that combined three major trends that emerged from this season’s European shows: sportswear, floral prints, and the colour blue.
The first look immediately set the new direction for the storied brand. A silk crewneck t-shirt was paired with fitted trackpants complete with ribbed cuffs (a rethought version of the riding pant as a nod to Gucci’s equestrian tradition) and were both decked out in a moody floral print on a dark grey background. Not tropical prints a la Prada and Saint Laurent, but a romanticised floral reminiscent of the iconic house patterns found on Giannini’s Flora bag. Or as our editor-in-chief Christian Barker aptly put it, “camo-florage”.
Our favourite application of this print? Definitely the double-breasted peak-lapel suit in sumptuous silk worn by model Clement Chabernaud. And even with such a sartorial ensemble, sportswear influences weren’t far off. A collarless long sleeve top replaced a traditional turn-down shirt — effortlessly paired with a folded foulard draped around the neck and neatly tucked under the lapels — while black leather sneakers with beige rubber soles anchored the outfit.
This ‘dressing down’ of traditional pieces was counterbalanced with the ‘dressing up’ of active sportswear. Oversized anoraks and windbreakers were upgraded in laser-cut leather and neoprene, embellished with tone-on-tone panels or contrast graphic works, and occasionally, accented with citron lining or bold zip detailing. But it was the leather backpack that innovatively turns into a shopper (complete with U-shaped leather handles), a backpack-slash-shopper if you like, that really stood out from the pack (see what we did there?).
This blending of formal with the informal — a new style jacket in a lightweight shirt construction thrown over tapered floral trousers or the juxtaposition of a sporty backpack strapped over a formal suit — was the scarlet thread that tied the collection together. From a palette of deep blues accented with bordeaux, with a short detour to frosty white (not too sure about the boxy peacoat shown here) including a good dose of salmon (the cable knit cardigan in this rich hue, however, was a winner), there was an upbeat audaciousness to the entire show.
Three-piecers were thrown in the mix to keep the traditionalists happy, but the real suiting heroes were the two single-breasted numbers (one in cream, the other in purple) that took inspiration from the house’s polkadot print scarf: the double-stripe borders of the scarf were cleverly used to demarcate the blazer cuffs and trouser hems.
Remarkably on trend, fresh and daring, yet still rooted in tradition, Giannini’s latest efforts isn’t for the shy wallflower, but given its contagious confidence, it should again prove to be a hit with buyers and style mavens alike.