Few items of clothing have the stature or symbolism to warrant a 60th anniversary celebration.
But that’s the star treatment that Gucci’s horsebit loafer received, with the launch of a dedicated exhibition at the brand’s museum in Florence.
That horsebit, along with the interlocking Gs and a dual stripe of red and green, form a direct link back to founder Guccio Gucci and the days when the label was solely a Florentine purveyor of leather goods.
Gucci, and the other celebrated Italian houses – Prada, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Etro, Missoni, Pucci – that will show their new collections in Milan over the next seven days are built on strong foundations of technical expertise. Leather goods, textiles, knitwear and scarf prints, all prove that clothing can be developed as an extension of the brand and be no less creative for that. This is a lesson that has begun to be learnt in London too, judging by the way the commercial head was seen to be leading the creative heart of the capital’s bright young things over the last few days.
Frida Giannini, Gucci creative director, continued a theme of overt sexuality that has been picking up pace during this round of the international collections. If sex does indeed sell, autumn/winter is certainly going to be a profitable season for the fashion industry.
Although at times it has been difficult to imagine the woman who would be able to brazen out the level of kink seen so far this season, Giannini has had no such trouble. “The Gucci woman seduces with her dangerous femininity,” she said, describing a collection that shunned any more delicate interpretations of that particular F word.
The opening segment featured egg-shaped shouldered jackets worn with pencil skirts – slit up the back as far as propriety would allow, and a little further for good measure – in wool, leather and pony skin. Worn with leather gloves, seamed fishnets and patent laced booties and knee high boots, these were a new interpretation of the classic two-piece skirt suit.
Where there was structure, it was counter-balanced by body-consciousness, with nipped-in waists, skin-tight leather and diaphanous silk separates. When talking about a collection as noir-ish as this, a strong use of black goes without saying, but it was saturated with deep colours too – purple, rust, moss green and cerulean blue.
“She is steely yet sexy – defining her discipline with femme fatale vices,” said Giannini of her woman. “She wears sculpted dresses with pure graphics, all the while alluding to devious touches.” Although there was less a sense of allusion in the closing sequence – where evening wear was shown off. These were pieces designed for the red carpet: elegant satin skirts counter-balanced with embroidered tops, with sequins, studding and feathers piled on to netting. The final blue dress seemed to depict a phoenix rising from the ashes, but it is the peacocks of the red carpet that will best strut their stuff in these designs.