In March 2005 Frida Giannini was charged with pushing Gucci, one of the most recognisable status labels of the late 20th century, into a new era. She is responsible for its high-profile accessories and womenswear collections, which has become synonymous with figure-hugging pencil skirts, glamorous sportswear and vixen-ish eveningwear, a look established by Gucci's former designer, Tom Ford, during the '90s.
Established in 1931 by Guccio Gucci as a saddlery shop in Florence, the company had been a traditional family-run Italian business until Guccio's grandson Maurizio sold his final share of the brand in 1993.
It was Guccio who first intertwined his initials to create the iconic logo. Yet until Tom Ford came along in the mid-'90s, the brand's image was lacklustre; from autumn/winter 1995, Ford designed full womenswear collections for Gucci, supported by slick advertising campaigns often shot by Mario Testino and a diehard following among celebrities.
In 2004, Ford exited Gucci and its parent company, the Gucci Group (which also controls brands such as Stella McCartney, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen), and new management filled Ford's position not with a single designer but with a team of three, all of whom were promoted internally: John Ray, for menswear, Alessandra Facchinetti for womenswear and Frida Giannini for accessories.
In March 2005 Facchinetti also departed Gucci, and Giannini, who lives in a 15th century apartment in Florence and owns 7000 vinyl records, is now also responsible for women's clothing collections. Born in Rome in 1972, Giannini studied at the city's Fashion Academy; in 1997 she landed a job as ready-to-wear designer at Fendi, before first joining Gucci in 2002. Her 'Flora' collection of flowery-printed accessories was the commercial hit of 2004, and, at the time of writing, her first ready-to-wear collection was scheduled for autumn/winter 2005.