Saturday, July 4, 2009
She's got sass... Gucci’s Frida Giannini understands the essence of modern sexiness so well, she’s bottled it The New York Times April 12, 2009 by Edwina Ings-Chambers It’s only the second time I’ve met Frida Giannini, creative director of Gucci, and I’m late. Oh, the horror! The mortification! It’s my own fault. I turned up at Claridge’s assuming that a designer of her standing would have taken over a fancy suite for her interviews. So I head straight to reception to ask for her, and am directed upstairs — to the wrong room. The door is answered by a bleary-eyed member of the general, non-fashion-designing, public. More mortification. It turns out that Giannini, 36, is sitting downstairs in a corner of the breakfast room being decidedly ungrand. She greets me warmly with two kisses. “How lovely to see you again!” No hint of irritation. No mention of the time. Just an open, friendly smile. This, it quickly transpires, is typical. She is the epitome of calm — so much so that I ask her if she’s a yoga devotee; she isn’t, but she does have a trainer who comes round to her home in Rome at 7.30am three times a week “to do exercises for the back, for my posture, because I’m always like that . . .” She hunches over. All her apparent calmness belies the fact that she’s a very busy woman. Her London schedule, before whizzing to China in 10 days’ time, includes interviews to talk about the new fragrance, Flora (inspired by the print she famously revived from the Gucci archives when she headed up the accessories section under Tom Ford), as well as overseeing the shoot for the new advertising campaign and hosting a party for the refurbished Gucci store in Sloane Street — gone is the black decor of the Ford era, in is a golden hue. Gold, I say, seems to be an important colour for her. “It’s warm,” she says, laughing. “I looked at the archives from the 1920s and 1930s, and there was a lot of gold, so I wanted to bring it back to life.” It is also the colour of the Gucci woman. Her catwalks, for instance, are usually strutted by models with long, wavy golden hair (her own is similar, although usually straight), sun-kissed skin and smoky eyes; it’s almost as much a part of the Gucci look as the clothes — neat trouser suits, short dresses, colourful prints. She laughs again — something she does a lot of. “Make-up and hair are definitely so important to the final look, the final story. And it’s important, from season to season, when telling a different story, that there is a link in the communication,” she explains. “It’s a reflection of a very confident woman — strong, independent — and something that is a message of our generation. That’s why I think it’s very appropriate for Gucci.” So appropriate, in fact, that she is even keen on the idea of a Gucci cosmetics line. “I would love to. We are discussing plans and we will see. I already have the packaging I want in my mind.” Dressed in black (a Giannini trademark) from her ankle boots and leggings to her draped batwing top, but topped off with a splash of colour, courtesy of a large printed shawl wrapped around her neck, she looks, as you’d expect, the epitome of the modern-day Gucci girl. Yet it is also the beloved image of almost every career woman, from here to Beijing, who juggles work with a private life (Giannini is married), travel and a love of fashion. All of which is perhaps why, under her stewardship, Gucci is booming, with a turnover of $2.2 billion (£2 billion). That ability to speak to real women means that Giannini’s fashion shows are often criticised by the fashion press for not being high impact or directional enough. It’s a state of affairs with which she’s at ease. “I’m not criticised by all the world — it is a very small niche of people. And I will never change for them. I want to stay close to my thoughts. When someone wants to offend me by saying I’m copied by the high street — well, for me, it’s a huge compliment.” Why should she feel otherwise? Giannini has become the arbiter of popular taste. She understands what women want and observes them constantly to gauge their needs. “It’s instinctive,” she says. “There is no magic word to explain it, but it’s something you feel and something that probably comes from the fact that I travel quite often, and I’m always looking at women in the street, in a restaurant, having coffee, from America to Japan. I’m curious to see what they’re wearing, what kind of bag they’re carrying, their shoes, their attitude.” More than that, though, Giannini sums up modern femininity: the perfect balance of toughness, happiness and success. Her glamour, her life, seems attainable; it’s real. So she is the figurehead of a huge brand, yet it’s not all about her —“My team is very important to me — we’re like a family.” She is phenomenally successful, but not calculating. “No, I don’t see myself as ambitious. Things just happen in my life, and the story of my career at Gucci is a consequence of very special timing. But I was very happy when I was the head of accessories, too. And I was very happy when I was at Fendi.” She is not on an ego trip either, and has no plans for her own label. “I like working for a big company or big name,” she says “It gives you the opportunity to have a 360-degree view on the world.” And children? “I’ve always seen myself as a mother one day, but not in this moment. I have other priorities, other things to do.” She is groomed, but it’s done with consummate ease — she even freely admits that her long, black lashes are partly false and coated in YSL mascara. No wonder she is so attuned to that Flora print — it is feminine but bold. The new fragrance is merely Frida distilled.
The New York Times April 14, 2009 By SUZY MENKES The Boyfriend Suit Makes a Comeback LONDON — Is it fashion’s passion for the 1980s? Or just a strong statement from women who have had enough of girly dresses? Whatever the reason, the pantsuit is back. But this time, it is a taut boyfriend jacket and slim trousers worn with hands plunged into hip pockets. International designers creating this strong trend include Stella McCartney, who has always made mannish tailoring a counterpoint to the pretty woman. Other female designers, from Hannah McGibbon at Chloé to the iconic Sonia Rykiel, have also come up with interpretations of the boy-girl thing. Male designers, too, have joined the re-vamping of the pantsuit. At Balmain, Christophe Decarnin has played with the soldier’s uniform and with wide-shouldered jackets, teaming them with super-tight jeans for a sexy, rock look. But it is the Gucci designer Frida Giannini who has rocked back to the 1980s to come up with a plausible style for day and night. When Vogue held a party in London this month to fete the designer, the look on stage said it all: a white, bold-stripe suit with a late 1980s vibe. This sharp tailoring was worn by a man: Richard Ashcroft, formerly the lead singer of The Verve, rocking with his greatest hits. The female fashion counterpoint at the event was Claudia Schiffer in a black cropped pantsuit that exuded female power. Ms. Giannini admits that she is dedicated to the androgynous ’80s — its fashion and its music. “Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet — when I was 14, listening to music was an obsession — and now I live with music morning to night,” says the designer, 36, who has a collection of 8,000 vinyl records and has brought rock chic to Gucci. Ms. Giannini was in London to celebrate the makeover of Gucci’s store on London’s upper-crust Sloane Street. “It’s about light — the old Gucci stores were so dark,” said the designer, in a veiled criticism of Tom Ford’s reign at the Italian house as fashion’s “dark knight.” “I opened the windows so that there is an interact with the city and you — the red bus in London and the yellow cab in New York,” she added. “Today, it is not only about a global world.” But globe-trotting is part of Ms. Giannini’s life. After moving Gucci’s headquarters from Florence to her native Rome, which she sees as Italy’s Bohemian, artistic and film capital, her world tour continues. Next stop is Japan, where she picks up an award; and then China, where she will open another new flagship in Shanghai. Ms. Giannini has been at Gucci since 2002, first as an accessories designer under Ford and ultimately ascending to the top job. Dressed in a tunic dress and her favorite leggings, her hair flat around a pixie face, she seemed like a prototype of a client who wants sleek, modern clothes as a backdrop to well-crafted accessories — not least those famous Gucci bags. But the image is not, the designer insists, all about her. “I never like to refer to myself — I don’t want to be my muse,” she claims, citing as inspiration strong women like the photographer Lee Miller or the fashion icon Tina Chow, whom she sees as artists and pioneers. Fashion’s power woman re-visited is a figure who is strong, confident and “always has a masculine side,” says Ms. Giannini — hence the tailoring that the designer sees as part of Gucci’s DNA. With her management-speak about “core values,” “visual merchandising” and the “huge opportunity for growth” she sees in accessories, jewelry and shoes, Ms. Giannini sounds more like a marketing director than a creative force. But she has an ability to hit on the mood of the moment, whether it is the new advertising campaign she is shooting in London with the photographic duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin or her “fetish,” thigh-high boots. Now that she is also designing the men’s collections, Ms. Giannini says that Gucci needs “the boy and girl — it’s important to create this kind of couple.” Her rock chic pantsuit is also a subtle challenge to the era of celebrity gowns. “I don’t care about the red carpet,” she says. “At this moment it is much more interesting to have a rock star wear my clothes.”
FRENCH ELLE'S NO MAKE-UP ISSUE Posted by: Catherine Strawn | posted on: thefrisky.com 6:00PM, Monday April 13th 2009 Magazine editors seem to have noticed (at last!) that women need to see models and actresses in a truer form, without the work of makeup artists and retouchers to mask their pores, cellulite, and wrinkles. The upcoming issue of French Elle, which hits newsstands this weekend, features Eva Herzigova, Monica Bellucci, Sophie Marceau, Charlotte Rampling, and four other females sans fards, which is a French idiom that literally means “without rouge/makeup,” but implies “openness.” We’re totally psyched to see beautiful women in a more natural, albeit still extremely flattering light. Photographer Peter Lindbergh snapped the women, so they’re not anything like the horribly unattractive candids our friends take of us around 1 a.m. after we’ve ingested a few cocktails, but they’re the closest a fashion magazine is going to get. Like this month’s French Elle is a step in the right direction for magazines, but once a year isn’t enough. Shouldn’t we be able to see celebs looking more like themselves every month? I don’t mean in unattractive photos like the ones tabloids shoot, showing stars’ boogers and dry skin. Natural can be beautiful and at home in a glossy magazine. In this month’s Glamour, there’s a swimsuit story that features a curvy model, and everyone at The Frisky gushed over the model’s hot bod. But the headline reads: “Not a dental-floss-thing kind of girl? Then you’ll love the new old-school Hollywood trend, meant to flatter goddesses of every shape and size.” Why can’t we just integrate natural, more realistic beauty on a regular basis, without calling out the content: This is for all of our non-skinny readers!!! It is rather wonderful, though, that unlike U.S. magazines that show celebs without makeup, these French Elle photographs make the natural look seem like a good thing. Look how good these women look, even when they let their imperfections show! Our tabloids, on the other hand, only draw attention to stars’ flaws, rather than their innate beauty.
Tanning: To Actually Sun or Just Look Like You Did? By lauracarsonmiller Posted on April 23, 2009 - 12:42pm Posted on thesparkleshelf.com May’s issue of Allure has a section called ‘Sun & Skin’ and naturally it addresses how bad tanning is for your skin. This got me to wondering how many of you plan to actually seek out a real, sun-induced tan this year and how many are going to shun the sun in favor of your natural color or using self-tanning products? I have dark brown hair and basically an olive complexion, but the parts of me that never see the sun are stark white. When my legs are showing I prefer some color so I am a big fan of self-tanning products. I apply Aveeno body lotion with SPF every day. Before going out to exercise I apply extra sunscreen to any exposed areas and to my face and I wear a hat. I love the feeling of the sun on my skin but never without sun protection! I recently went to my dermatologist for my yearly full body skin check, just to make sure I was free and clear in the ‘suspicious skin growths’ department. Glamour just had their yearly issue that focuses on cancerous melanomas, which shows graphic pics and has testimonials from readers who benefited from getting their ‘mole check’ after reading Glam’s yearly articles. This derm visit is so, so important, people, and I can’t say enough about how much you don’t want to have something go undetected that might be on your back or have some ‘different looking mole’ that you think is ‘just nothing!’ – turn out to really be something – that a doctor can help you with! The best news is that shunning tanning doesn’t have to mean looking pale if that is not a look you are fond of! Don’t forgo self tanners if you are faired skinned either, as you can get great results with Rodial Brazilian Tan Light. Fans of this fabulous concoction include Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Richie and Victoria Beckham. For those who are looking for a more intense ‘tan,’ try Xen-Tan Dark Lotion. I personally love this brand and so do Nicolette Sheridan, Joan Rivers and Jamie Lynn Sigler. Self-tanning has progressed light years from the original formulas and with a little trial and error you can easily find one that is right for your skin tone. So, wear your sunscreen daily and be sure to make time for that yearly skin check, even if you aren’t a sun worshipper. Part of being a responsible adult is taking care of your health. Proper skin care is about more than serums and facials and only you can take your skin to the doctor and get checked out. It’s well worth it. Cheers, Laura