ANGELES — On a recent afternoon at Gucci’s newly
remodeled Rodeo Drive flagship, creative director Frida
Giannini is looking very at home in L.A.
wearing a colorful patchwork print silk blouse from the
label’s forthcoming spring collection, a pair of
perfectly faded Gucci boyfriend jeans and metallic
platform sandals that hint at her love of all things
David Bowie and 1970s.
is the look of Giannini’s Gucci now: everyday luxe.
gowns are an incredible market for us," she says
during an interview in the store’s lush new
third-floor VIP suite, built for celebrity dressing,
with crystal-embroidered gala gowns hanging nearby.
"But for me, it’s important to have special items
in each collection that you can keep in your closet for
years. I call them essentials, but they are still
objects of desire."
construction for two years, the remodeled boutique at
347 Rodeo Drive announces itself in gold and crystal,
with a sparkling façade.
in, the first thing a visitor notices in the center
atrium is a massive two-story LED screen, used to
display a variety of content, including runway show
footage and an animated film that features Gucci’s
newly reworked Flora print, updated with moodier blooms
by Toronto-based visual artist Kris Knight.
screen represents the way luxury brands have evolved
from makers of finely crafted goods to multimedia
companies with hands in filmmaking, visual art,
philanthropy and more.
remember 10 years ago when we were working on the
fashion campaigns, it was just (photos), that’s
it," says Giannini, 41, who joined Gucci as a
handbag designer in 2002 and was elevated to creative
director of the entire brand in 2006. "Now, we
spend many days doing videos, banners, something for
Facebook and Instagram. This LED screen in the store
symbolizes the modernity of the technology we’re
working with; we’re all communicating in a new
has embraced the role of cultural curator and content
creator around the world. In 2012, the brand tapped
"Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn to make
a short film with Blake Lively for its Gucci Premiere
fragrance, and premiered it at the Venice Film Festival.
In 2013, it supported Martin Scorsese’s Film
Foundation to help restore the classic "Rebel
Without a Cause." Also last year, Giannini created
Chime for Change, a global philanthropic campaign for
female empowerment that was launched with a televised
concert in London headlined by Beyonce and Jennifer
Lopez, among others.
addition to celebrating the Rodeo store’s reopening,
Giannini was in L.A. to host the recent LACMA Art + Film
Gala, which Gucci has sponsored for four years,
alongside Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of
Gucci parent company Kering Group, his wife, Salma Hayek
Pinault, and other notables including socialite and
model Charlotte Casiraghi and Italian industrialist Lapo
Elkann, who are both Gucci collaborators.
like that (LACMA Museum Director) Michael Govan’s main
idea was to put fine arts and film together,"
Giannini says of the event, which this year honored
Barbara Kruger and Quentin Tarantino. "It’s nice
to have an opportunity to celebrate one director and one
artist, and to see all the communities coming together
with mutual admiration."
being a retail entertainment center, the remodeled
boutique features the full range of Gucci goods for men,
women and children in an environment that’s full of
natural light and polished gold, smoked mirrors and
black marble, giving the space an Art Deco feel.
the ground floor are handbags and accessories, including
the limited-edition new Jackie bag, based on the one
originally made famous by Jacqueline Onassis, created in
citrus suede for the opening. There’s also the new,
soft-sided Jackie flap shoulder bag that Giannini is
carrying, an appealingly understated style with very
little noticeable stitching or hardware and no logo.
also a corner featuring the new Gucci Beauty collection,
created in partnership with makeup artist Pat McGrath.
brand as big as Gucci has to be a lot of things to a lot
of people, in different kinds of markets all over the
world. It has to be old — as in reverent to its
heritage as a made-in-Italy leather goods brand founded
in 1921 — but also new, to keep us all interested. It
has to be luxe, as in aspirational, but also attainable,
with enough affordable little luxuries to pad the
that formula right has been challenging for Gucci.
released third-quarter sales results were disappointing.
And some press coverage of the brand has suggested that
Gucci is too overexposed for today’s exclusive-leaning
luxury consumer. There have even been rumors that
Giannini and her life partner, Gucci President, Chairman
and Chief Executive Patrizio di Marco, are leaving,
which they deny.
Giannini’s work has never been better or more
wearable. In recent collections, she’s been drawing
heavily on the brand’s heyday in the jet-setting 1960s
and ’70s, when Onassis was photographed on the street
carrying her Jackie bag and wearing flared pants and
slim coats. "Gucci is a lot about living the good
life," Giannini says.
great-looking faded denim, in boyfriend and sailor
silhouettes, the resort collection that’s about to hit
stores features striped sweaters with crystal embroidery
or tie-dye effects, crisp shorts, capri pants and
raincoats in soft pastels and the new Flora print on
silk dresses, blouses and pleated skirts. Prices run
$395 for a pair of boyfriend jeans, $5,600 for a silk
column gown with crystal knot embroidery, $6,500 for a
fun, baby blue shearling jacket.
to Gucci’s global market takes Giannini all over. In a
single week, she’s gone from her base in Rome to Japan
— to host a charity gala with UNESCO and donate 25
million yen to scholarship programs there — and to
L.A., where she hopes to find time amid her official
duties to go to the Griffith Observatory and have lunch
by the ocean in Malibu.
the year is over, she’ll travel back to Rome, to
Moscow, back to Rome, then to Art Basel in Miami, where
Gucci will sponsor an exhibition of Knight’s artwork.
between, she has to carve out personal time to spend
with daughter Greta, just a year old, and Di Marco. When
asked about how they manage, she says, "The only
way to survive is to stop talking about work. Since we
had the baby, it’s changed because the short time we
have to spend with her, we want to be fully dedicated.
In the past few months, we’ve also started planning
meetings where we sit with thousands of sheets of paper
on the table and talk about everything at once.
it’s a world and work that takes a lot of time and a
lot of oneself. When you’re responsible for a big
brand you feel all the pressure on your shoulders. You
need to be well balanced. At the moment, it’s