Gucci makes a show of luxury

Time, and the Milan women’s wear shows, wait for no man – especially no London man. Yesterday, as the Savile Row designers drew fashion week to a close in the UK, further south Gucci heralded the start of the Italian ready-to-wear season with a bang. David Cameron may have the edge on Silvio Berlusconi at the moment, at least as far as being taken seriously goes, but when it comes to flexing fashion power, the latter’s country still dominates.

No one demonstrates this clearer than Gucci, this season celebrating 90 years, a partnership with Fiat, and its recent results: fourth quarter 2010 sales up 23.3 per cent and annual revenues up 17.6 per cent to €2.67bn ($3.67bn). Oh, and a show that telegraphed a rich, take-no-prisoners self-confidence.

There were monkey furs and fur chubbies, fur scarves and fur collars, in fox and mink and goat, often dyed 1970s shades of purple, jade or mustard. There were hand-painted python biker jackets and flared grey flannels; and patent leather so shiny it was hard to look at straight on.

“This is a contemporary female dandy... a polished woman with a decisive personality... who is willing to dare,” said creative director Frida Giannini. It would certainly take daring to appear so in-your-face luxe in the current economic climate or wear one of the sheer evening gowns that appeared: chiffon billowing over under-rompers, sleeves bristling organza petalslike relics from a lost south sea hula dancer. But then, that was the point.

The show had none of the self-deprecating irony on view in London over the last few days – you can’t really be as big as Gucci and be ironic, just exhuberantly yourself – although someone might find a certain sardonic humour in the fact Ms Giannini said one of her collection inspirations was UK singer Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine, and at the unveiling party later on the day for the Gucci Fiat another British singer – Coco Sumner, Sting’s daughter – performed.

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