India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Luxury & Brands
May 18, 2011

The G Factor

Text by Sohiny Das

Right now, Gucci is Frida, and Frida is Gucci. Whatever Ms Giannini does, the world considers gospel. The creative director of the Italian luxury giant has been piloting the brand since 2005, steadily reasserting the Gucci stamp, digging into its legendary archives and reinterpreting classics, but always keeping things contemporary. Presently in its 90th year, the company ranks as one of the most coveted luxury brands in the world, and there are no questions regarding how instrumental Frida Giannini has been in this ascent to the top. Verve quizzes the powerhouse about celebration plans and things to look forward to

The current Gucci woman – is she more sexual or sensual? Assertive or assured?
Sensual, because she is self-aware. Assured, because she is a high-impact achiever who is recognised for her intellect.

Men designing for women have their muses. Women designers are their own muses. Does this hold true in your case?
I never look to myself for inspiration when I create something, because I think it really limits a designer. You have to think about an idea, a world, a journey. When you finish a collection, there is a large part of yourself in that collection because of the time and the passion spent on it. In the end it does become a reflection of you and your personality but I think that is something unconscious rather than premeditated.

You have always been something of a ’70s child…..
My designs reflect my interest in contrasts. I like the mix of soft and hard. That is probably why I have always loved the ’70s and the sensuality and the glamour of that era.

After Tom Ford’s supremely sexy and successful reign at Gucci, did you find it daunting to put in your own ethos?
Gucci has always been greater than just one person. The heritage of the house and its longevity have been built over its 90-year history. When I came on board, it was important for me to establish my own point of view while always respecting Gucci’s codes and its heritage. I felt that it was essential to tap into Gucci’s own remarkable archive and to celebrate the quality and craftsmanship for which the house has come to be known since its founding by Guccio Gucci in 1921. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with this incredible patronage.

Iconic women who inspire your design…
Strong, independent women – those who know what they want and where they are going – are my inspiration. Two women who come to my mind are Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy because each had such a timeless, feminine style that I find very relevant today. Women should celebrate their femininity.

Jackie Kennedy was the epitome of chic. Her effortless style left an imprint on the house of Gucci – she carried a particular handbag throughout the years and it eventually was named after her. The Jackie bag holds a very special place within our storied past, and with the New Jackie, I wanted to tap into that glamour of the past while also creating something that would work for today – larger, roomier, softer and with modern details. I think the New Jackie has become an example of Gucci’s ‘forever now’ duality.

Another female icon, Grace Kelly, was the original inspiration when Gucci designed the Flora scarf especially for her in 1966 – this in turn inspired my first collection as creative director in the summer of 2005 and the print has remained close to my heart ever since.

Any favourite models from the advertising campaigns?
I really do not play favourites – every season I am looking for models who exude confidence, energy and optimism. Sometimes I work with the same models on more than one occasion – women who turn heads. But I also like including new faces who have never been seen before.

If one Gucci product were to be renamed ‘Frida’, which would it be?
Don’t ask me to choose! However, if I had to pick one, it would be the New Bamboo bag – the perfect accessory for a sophisticated, seductive woman. It’s here to stay.

What guides you more – study or instinct?
I always trust my instincts. You have to believe in yourself, no matter what.

Are you a dragon lady at work?
I try not to be a perfectionist but I can’t help it. I am a tough boss in that I expect a lot, but I’m also fair. I also know when it’s time to stop work and start having fun.

How do you switch off and unwind?
I travel so much for work that when it’s time to unwind, I prefer to stay in my house by the beach and do all the things that I never have time for, like horseback riding, cooking, sleeping and reading. I usually spend my free time with friends, just hanging out, listening to music and having great dinners.

You are a self-confessed music junkie….
Music is a huge part of my life and it certainly plays a role while I’m working. There’s always music playing in the office, just to set the creative tone and to get everyone in a good mood. There is a huge amount of creativity and originality coming from the music world and I find it very stimulating. There is never a set play list – it really depends on my mood. I am fond of the ’70s and the ’80s and enjoy the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Depeche Mode as well as new music. You can find many of my favourites on the Gucci App.

90 is a grand figure. How grand are Gucci’s celebrations going to be?
This is an extremely special year for us. We have many new projects on the horizon. We recently launched our two lifestyle projects – Aquariva by Gucci, a made-to-order yacht, and the 500 by Gucci, a special edition of the iconic Fiat 500.

As we celebrate the legacy of the house we are also affirming our commitment to the cultural heritage of the arts, with partnerships with The Film Foundation and the Recording Academy to preserve and restore film and music for future generations.

In September, we are opening a Gucci museum, in Piazza della Signoria, accompanied by a new book which will retrace the entire history of the brand.

Anything special to be released for the hallmark anniversary?
In June we are introducing the 1921 collection, a special commemorative collection that I designed to pay homage to the icons, craftsmanship and luxury materials for which the house has become renowned since its founding by Guccio Gucci in 1921. Each item in the collection tells a story, representing a chapter within the house’s rich narrative history.

Where do the Indian woman and Gucci click, regardless of the logo?
India is a vibrant country that is a big source of creative inspiration for the world. I love how the traditional and the modern coexist so well, especially in the way women dress. The Indian woman, like the Gucci woman, is fashionable and confident, elegant and self-assured. She knows what she wants. She’s a woman with a strong personality and a good head on her shoulders. I also think she’s a woman who cares about quality, workmanship and owning things that will last a lifetime.

Do you keep a note of Indian celebrities who influence fashion in the country?
I find Aishwarya Rai very beautiful and we were excited to dress her last year in our new couture collection called Gucci Premiere. I have also been following the careers of some other Bollywood actresses – one who I admire is Priyanka Chopra.

Is it important for a global brand to have a local face for a stronger connect with the audience?
Above all, I feel that Gucci’s ‘forever now’ values resonate regardless of location – the thought of investing in an evergreen design that will last a lifetime, transcends borders. That said, I do feel it is important for a global brand to always have a local connection, whether it is a celebrity ambassador, special product collections, a link with a local charity, or my personal involvement in an event.

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