News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Frida Giannini

Gucci Designer Frida Giannini, Image: IMAXtree

Gucci Designer Frida Giannini, Image: IMAXtree

Designer Frida Giannini has a 15-year career span that's landed her one of the most coveted roles in the high fashion kingdom: The creative director of Gucci. According to interviewers and the director of the new documentary about her busy life, she's a self-made woman, working her way through the ranks with talent and an old fashioned work ethic. If you want to see a woman who "has it all" you've no further to look. 

She began at Fendi, designing ready-to-wear and then leather goods. She moved over to Gucci in 2002 as a handbag designer. Years later, in 2004, she was promoted to head of accessories when Tom Ford left. And in 2006, she was appointed as his full replacement. But it hasn't always been roses and sunshine. There were bumps along the way. For her first handbag collection, Giannini dug into Gucci's heritage archives, taking inspiration from floral scarves Grace Kelly was fond of. She created a floral motif collection to the dismay of critics who claimed these were not bags that would set trends, the hope of a big name like Gucci when presenting design deviations. But Giannini stuck to her commitment to heritage then, as she does now. That collection turned out to be a commercial, if not critical, success. Speaking about her men's Fall 2010 collection, she told Suze Menkes, "I don't think it is a nostalgic collection, but heritage is good for me — going back to the archives, but looking forward to the future." 

Giannini herself is a woman who has one foot in the past and present. She told Interview Magazine that she has an 8,000-strong vintage vinyl record collection, a love that was started by her DJ uncle. In fact, when she talks about how she became interested in fashion, her earliest style-love memories are entwined with an admiration for rock stars who she says, "didn't need a stylist." While Tom Ford created an overtly sexy powerhouse persona out of an ailing brand in the Nineties, Giannini has created a decidedly more feminine (even bohemian tinged) Gucci woman who's reminiscent of the house's storied past, and who does set trends for today's modern woman (thank you very much!). 

A new documentary aptly titled The Director follows her for 18 months as she travels the world showing collections, balancing promotional duties and her family life, as well as giving us insight into her childhood, her Italian residence and her commitment to her craft. Because I love the story of Gucci (from beginning to end, it reads like the best historical family drama), because I loved Ford's woman and love Giannini's just as much, I've pulled together some of my favorite looks from the past few seasons. See if you can't pick out those 70s-era influences and au currant flapper styles brought back just in time for our love of Gatsby-inspired fashion.