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Creative Director of Gucci
Frida Giannini’s unique talent and distinctive contemporary vision, which combines the values of traditional artisanal skills with the very latest developments in fashion technology, have underpinned her rise as the creative force behind one of the world’s most celebrated fashion Houses.
Born in Rome in 1972 into a creative household – her father was an architect and her mother a professor of art history – Giannini studied fashion design at Rome’s Fashion Academy before apprenticing in a small ready-to-wear company. In 1997, she was hired by Fendi, where she worked as a ready-to-wear designer for three seasons before being named designer for Fendi leather goods.
Two years later, she was appointed to a newly created post, Creative Director of Accessories, where she assumed unprecedented control of the design of bags, shoes, luggage, small leather goods, silks, fine jewellery, gifts, watches and eyewear.
Giannini flourished in this expanded role, and brought a powerful new perspective to Gucci’s accessories collections. Using the Gucci archive for inspiration, she transformed House classics such as the Flora scarf pattern into novel and hugely successful designs. She says now that her first visit to the archive was one of the most significant revelations in her career, and over the years she has adapted and redefined many iconic Gucci designs and motifs – from the use of bamboo to the development of equestrian iconography, and from reinterpreting the look of the famous horsebit loafer to modernising the equally celebrated Jackie bag.
Giannini accepted this significant responsibility with aplomb, quickly establishing her individual stamp on the House. Her design approach and focused management style are informed by sharp confidence and decisiveness, as well as her uniquely feminine and distinctly Italian point of view.
The combination of her skills has proven to be a powerful asset for Gucci, as is witnessed by her consistent ability to design collections that not only influence global fashion trends, but also are highly successful at retail.
Giannini has also been instrumental in repositioning the universe of Gucci beyond design, bringing a truly 21st-century spirit to bear. Not only has she developed the architectural and interior environments for Gucci’s store concept – paving the way for the House’s contemporary look in its boutiques across the world – she also conceived the Gucci Museo, a destination in the House’s birthplace, Florence, that opened during Gucci’s 90th anniversary in 2011 and fulfilled her desire to narrate the evolution behind the House’s icons. Additionally, she is responsible for the creative direction of all advertising campaigns and has worked with such illustrious directors as David Lynch, Frank Miller, Chris Cunningham and Nicolas Winding Refn.
In collaboration with the Venice International Film Festival, the Gucci Award for Women in Cinema made its debut in 2010 with the aim of spotlighting the unique contributions that women make to the film industry in a wide range of disciplines. Most recently, Gucci partnered with the Biennale di Venezia on the Biennale College – Cinema, a program aimed at promoting new talents and offering them the opportunity to work closely with well-known professionals in order to make micro-budget films.
Gucci annually presents the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art Film Gala, which honours film alongside fine art and deepens Gucci’s longstanding commitment to the preservation and celebration of the arts.
Giannini’s broadening profile has also allowed for increased activity for Gucci in the area of social responsibility, a personal commitment that the designer has turned into a passion for the company.
It was Giannini’s work with UNICEF that became the inspiration for her ambitious CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign for girls’ and women’s rights, which she co-founded in 2013 with Salma Hayek Pinault and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Through its crowd-funding partner Catapult, to date CHIME FOR CHANGE has raised over 5 million US dollars, fully funding 310 projects in nearly 80 countries through 101 non-profit partners.
The year prior, Giannini was honored in Madrid by Marie Claire Spain and in Tokyo, where she accepted the award for International Designer of the Year from The Fashion Editors Club of Japan – marking the first time that the award was given to a woman.
Photo Courtesy of Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott