Like a cancer, the recession is growing faster, stronger, and wider. Department stores are screaming in frantic desperation as (potential) customers become less sensitive to what’s new in fashion and even less sensitive to their own look. People in the middle and lower class barely have any budget for the hottest jackets, or shoes, or bags. All they can think about today is how to keep their stomach fed.
Hard time, indeed, especially for those who merely operate the engines. But creators, inventors, and designers see trouble and poverty as another source of inspiration to ignite their creative capacity. Fashion designers quickly adapted and translate this choking time into collections that might have never been seen before.
While some other, more intellectual designers realize their vision in the crudest way possible (malevolent-looking females in all-business coats at PRADA, for instance), Frida Giannini of GUCCI has another opinion.
Her Fall/Winter 2009 collection has an edge and a certain dose of seriousness in it. There’s nothing sweet or girly amongst the parade of leather, sequin, and form-hugging mini dresses in flashy fabrics at GUCCI runway. But the women didn’t look mannish or stiff either. You could easily picture them hitting the clubs, tossing their briefcases and contracts aside as the office hour comes to an end.
Giannini’s personality is, as always, strongly present in the collection. She still plays with print, this time geometric ones like stripes and circles that might seem out-of-proportion sometime, but she didn’t let it dominate this glam rock cum disco collection. Monochrome and sexiness was all over, as if Tom Ford was back for a while. What set Giannini apart were less skin exposure and, surprisingly, less number of red carpet evening dresses that have always been GUCCI’s territory (unless you consider midnight clubbing an “evening occasion”).
The “Frida” pantsuit, that has been present since Giannini took over Alessandra Facchinetti’s job as GUCCI’s Creative Director, was also there. Its incessant display throughout Giannini’s era might bore some critics at this point, who have impatiently waited for something unexpected and out of the GUCCI box. But what’s realistic is destined to survive, and at least it can be considered as a new GUCCI signature besides the bamboo-handled bags and the GG Monograms that now have lost its force of authenticity due to much counterfeiting. Why else would GUCCI keep selling the pantsuit?
I still hold the believe that Giannini has pinned down her formula for Spring/Summer: colorful prints and lady-like shapes. Look back at her last four Spring/Summer collections and you can almost accurately predict what’s going to come for 2010. But such predictability doesn’t seem to apply when the clothes had to go thicker.
In Fall/Winter 2006 there were disco 70’s women at the GUCCI runway, then jetsetters in 2007 with a very clean and polished look. In 2008 Giannini took GUCCI to an unexpected, almost idiosyncratic direction towards a luxurious, much upgraded version of folk and country. Now it’s as if she got off her saddle, drives a high-speed sports car, and heads to the hottest club. Not a stable for horses and hippies. Perhaps Giannini has reserved Fall/Winter for her time to be playful, but notwithstanding commercialism.
True, everyone is squeezed by the economic crisis, even the so-called recession-proof superrich around the world to a certain degree. “Sale” is now a very popular scene, yet tragic for the luxury industry who is unwilling to get off its exclusive throne. So how does Giannini keep GUCCI’s margin positive without resorting to the “S” word? Being realistic, of course, and never forgetting that “luxury” literally means all that emit radiance.
GUCCI’s Fall/Winter 2009 collection is exactly that: confident, radiant looks that put women in a sexy and happy mood. The message of this collection is clear: just because we live in a depressive time we don’t have to feel or, even worse, look depressed. Disentangling the threads of multiple trouble can be done in a way that keeps everything fun and everyone in a good mood. However dark the clouds, there’s always a silver lining. This collection just might be it.
– Adhi Putra Tawakal –