Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crash and Burn...


I knew it couldn't last. The restraint she showed, the optimism I felt. They were temporary, erased by the new. Logically I knew that I'd probably be feeling let down, but I still hoped I wouldn't. This is my way of saying that the Spring Summer 2011 collection that Frida Giannini presented was such a drastic departure from the positively good collection she put out last fall and which won me over, despite my distaste for the woman's prior work. With this new collection she reverted back to her former tactics faster than you can say "stiletto", and it's killing me. Watching the show, which seemed to unintentionally be broken up into three separate collections, was upsetting because after last season I've seen what Frida is capable of. She's still no Tom Ford, and she never will be, but she can do luxurious, sexy, grown up clothes that positively reek of Gucci's essence. Why she decided to shoot herself in the foot instead of going 2 for 2 is beyond my comprehension.

The collection started out with jewel tone silk separates, tapered trousers, blazers, blouses, and tulip skirts and in their clashing shades of orange, jade, purple and cerulean accented with gold accessories and red lips it would be nearly impossible not to think of Yves Saint Laurent. He was the master of these kinds of lurid mixes of color. I wish I could say that Giannini's homage did the originator justice, but instead of looking artistic, beautiful and unusual Giannini's mix of colors just looked cheap. There was zero sophistication which, mean as it sounds, is a testament to her eye for color. She may like using it but in this case anyway it wasn't used well. Ignoring the color the pieces are no great shakes with their slight 70s vibe. Compared to Marc Jacobs collection, which went there and back, it's no wonder I find these looks completely forgettable. I do like the black blouse on Natasha though. Apparently the back was cut out.

The next section, which was significantly larger, was done in shades of beige, tan and black and had a vague "safari" flavor. You know what that means, harem pants, neat jackets in exotic skins detailed with lots of junk like tassels, fringe, and braiding, and a bit of ethnic beading to finish things off. Again this section recalled Yves Saint Laurent, though an entirely different side of his work. If the opening looks harked back to his vibrant disco days then this section was pure, unadulterated, mid-60s Saharienne with just a hint of Marrakesh thrown in to cover all the bases. It's a look that's been done countless times, and honestly Frida isn't adding anything remotely new to the theme. Save for the overload of details this was textbook fashion, the kind of ready-made go-to inspiration that designers latch on to like flies to a zebra carcass. While this was the largest section of the collection it was also the most uneven. There were some beautiful pieces, but between the over-styling and the over-embellishing that went on they got a little lost in the shuffle.

The third and final section was, unsurprisingly, eveningwear and for evening Frida referenced yet another moment in Saint Laurent's career, his African collection of 67/68, in all it's tribal beaded, feathered and fringed glory. After sending out three black jumpsuits with gold detailing that, were it not for the extremely dropped crotches would have been kind of pretty, Giannini sent out what were no doubt meant to be her "drama" pieces, the ones that end a show with a bang. It's unfortunate that, for me at least, the obvious work that went into making them is overshadowed by the fact that they are both overdone and unflattering. Watching the live stream, with the size 0 and 2 models walking down the runway in their fringed, beaded, and feathered dresses, hands thrust into side pockets, I couldn't help but think of how insane it is to make a dress that is already wide around the hips appear even wider by adding pockets. Frida's a woman, and if a woman is making dresses that look kind of bulky on a too-thin model (forget about a woman who actually has a waist and hips) there is seriously something wrong.

Besides feeling like a completely unfocused collection it also feels like a giant step backwards for Giannini. I've always felt that she has relied way too heavily on special effects and not enough on the basics of designing clothes such as cut, shape and fit. There are times when it feels as though she's thinking of the embellishments first and simply applying them to whatever garment will accommodate them, and there are others when it seems like she thinks she needs to work a piece to the nth degree for it to be luxurious or special. I don't understand why she'd revert back to this comfort zone after showing that she can in fact restrain herself and produce results that are better looking than when she goes for the glue gun. I also can't help but criticize the lack of continuity in this collection. namechecked Guy Bourdin and Chris von Wangenheim as two sources of inspiration, and while I could maybe grant that the bold colors that opened the show have a vaguely Bourdin kind of feel (and I do mean vaguely) I don't see much of Wangenheim's twisted sexuality here. I also don't see how photographers who helped define the look of the mid-to-late 70s relate to Marrakesh, safari or tribalism via YSL. Fact is those references come from an entirely different decade than Bourdin and Wangenheim. There's no real connection between them and Frida didn't succeed at creating one, which is why this one collection of 44 looks is broken up so jaggedly. There's no flow from those colored disco silks to the beige harem pants and leather jackets that came next, just like there's no flow from the desert tinged safari section to the glitzed up sub-Saharan tribalism that closed the show. Weird thing is I don't all out hate this collection. It's certainly not the worst that Giannini has done and some of the pieces, like those black jumpsuits which are really the only pieces that successfully merge all of the references, are kind of nice. But I can't say that I think the collection is very good. It's not. Like I said, I knew that last season would turn out to be a fluke, I really did, but I still hoped that it might be the start of a new chapter at Gucci. It was nice while it lasted I guess.

all images from

1 comment:

LOla said...

I think this collection is a stepback too.
In France, everybody says "this collection is quite's the from frida" but, i find this collection boring to death. It's a mix between LOUIS VUITTON S/S09 & LANVIN S/S08 mix with Ysl from the past..Ahh HORRIBLE!
I don't like the idea of pocket everywhere and particulary on dresses.
I Like the shoes, they remind me the spring 2002 one.. the bags & belts screams LV S/S09.

Spike, i've found 2 videos of the fall 2001 Tom Ford's collection at YSL ( ; Can ou tell me which songs where used in this show please.