February 19, 2014 6:24 pm

Milan Fashion Week: Gucci takes a new generation back to the ’60s

There was a grey cloud hanging over Milan on Wednesday as the fashion flock flew in, but in the Gucci world, all was light and candy cool.

You can understand it: though it is sheer coincidence that the Italian autumn/winter womenswear season opens with a Florentine brand, and the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, has just become prime minister-designate, it is resonant nonetheless. What better way to reflect the fresh promise of Mr Renzi than via a fresh take on a global brand rooted in Mr Renzi’s city?

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Vanessa Friedman

Indeed, the brand itself described the collection as taking “its cue from the house’s heritage while marking a turning point”. Students of politics could be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu.

“I felt a need to materialise the essence of Gucci,” said creative director Frida Giannini. “This is glamour at its purest.”

Except it was not. Not entirely. What it was, was 1960s shapes redux – shrunken single-button boy suits often worn over paper-thin nappa tuxedo shirts complete with ruffled bibs; A-line leather and silk dresses; neat back-belted coats with big silver buttons; and the same little dresses reworked in crystals (on top) and heavy silk jersey for cocktails. It was out with the blinding bling of seasons past and in with the jeans, literally, via cropped narrow denim. It was less of the luxe and the louche, python boots aside, and more of the loose ’n easy.

Some of it was good (those little dresses, especially a burgundy leather halter over little skirt); a lot of it was too heavy on the vintage vibe (shearling chubbies and long, goat-hair coats), but the colour palette – washed-out sweetie tones, like someone had popped a Gobstopper in their mouth, sucked off the top layer, and then spit it back out – was genuinely interesting. And it was undoubtedly commercial. The ’60s always are, in part because it seems every new generation that didn’t get to wear the stuff the last time around wants a part of them. You could easily picture a large chunk of young Hollywood in these clothes.

This is not necessarily a criticism; the show had a streamlined vibe, and felt as though Ms Giannini was not trying so hard, in the fashion-forward stakes. She actually called her shapes “undeniably bourgeois”, as if to say: so it is a bit banal, so what? If sales are the equivalent of consumers voting with their wallets, here’s betting Gucci will come out ahead.

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