Gucci celebrates 90 years with opulence

Gucci provided the first major show of Milan Fashion Week on Tuesday and given that this year is Gucci’s 90th anniversary, the Italian brand was always going to show a collection to fit its reputation for maximum gloss and glamour.

Later this week, Gucci’s anniversary celebrations will culminate with the opening of the “Gucci Museo” in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, housing items from Gucci’s archive, a book shop and a café. But before the brand extension, the clothes.

The Gucci woman is not someone who likes to slip into a room unnoticed, she wants heads to turn and jaws to drop when she makes her entrance, so designer Frida Giannini used plenty of classic tricks to guarantee her collection made a statement. These ranged from plunging necklines to the liberal use of beading and sequins, but she also considered the subtle tricks that make an outfit memorable. The Gucci woman probably doesn’t subscribe to the adage that you should remember the dress not the woman – she would prefer both.

The collection was dubbed “Hard Deco” and had strong elements of Art Deco running through it, from the graphic lines, the gold and black colour scheme for most of the outfits, to the gleaming surfaces, but harder edges and an unapologetic brashness, which made it Art Deco via the 1980s.

Giannini said she was inspired by “the opulence of an era of hedonism” and there was certainly no token aesthetic obeisance paid to the debt crisis.

The first looks focused on tailored, high-waisted black trousers featuring slashes and gold buttons at the ankle, with short, boxy and embellished jackets. These came in strong optical patterns, such as gold and green diagonal stripes and thin horizontal rows of short fringes in black, white and gold. In addition to gold and black, monochrome was a recurrent theme, on tuxedo jackets and an animal print blouse that seemed to blur leopard with giraffe – or was it cow?.

The high point of the show was the flapper-style gold and black dresses at the end, inspired by the Chrysler building, dropped waists, hems made from strips of beaded fabric or chains that moved like a luxe grass skirt. It was the movement that will ensure these dresses get the Gucci customer noticed, whether it was the swish of the suspended chains, or the quiver of beaded strips running from shoulder to hip. After all clothes are meant to be worn.

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