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August 6, 2013

Behind Chime for Change with Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini


Photo Credit: Pari Dukovic

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She has managed to intertwine her passions with her work. She's the cinephile who hired Drive's Danish art-house wunderkind Nicolas Winding Refn to direct Lively in the commercial promoting the new Gucci Première fragrance; the music fan (she owns 8,000 albums) who got her company to underwrite London's Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition "David Bowie Is"; and don't get her started on horses. "They're my escape, my real passion," she says dreamily. So much so that she designed a capsule collection inspired by the riding outfit she made for champion equestrienne Casiraghi, who appeared in Gucci's ad for its Flora silk scarves—a refashioning of the archive print the house founder's son Aldo Gucci commissioned for Casiraghi's grandmother Princess Grace of Monaco because he wanted to give her more than just a bouquet of flowers. "I've never ridden with Charlotte—her horses are too good," says Giannini. "I'm not convinced the customers who buy the collection are all riders, but jodhpurs are always chic. I really missed riding when I was pregnant. It's good exercise for the legs and posture and also for your confidence. I will love for Greta to start."

From the beginning, Giannini wasn't about having her name on a label or splashed across a billboard. After a stint designing accessories at Fendi, she was offered the same job at Gucci in 2004, then rose to creative director two years later when Tom Ford left. If Gucci under Ford was all aggressive sexuality, Giannini has softened the edges. The Flora scarves, for example, were her "breakaway from Tom's reign, my imprinting my femininity." While her motto is, "A great jacket and flat riding boots make a great wardrobe," she's being modest about how imaginative and subversive her spins on Gucci's greatest hits are—a horse-bit stiletto in jasmine python; a Jackie O. hobo in gray karung snakeskin; a jaguar-print, bamboo top-handle bag; a gold metallic GG iPad case. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the iconic horse-bit loafer this year, Gucci is doing them in pony, patent leather, and pastel suede.

With so much going on, the question for Giannini isn't about how to have it all, but how to do it all. "Frida isn't the type to give up easily or abandon a project dear to her heart," says Mariane Pearl, the managing editor of Chime for Change, who is charged with curating inspiring stories of women from around the globe. "As her connection to women in the world deepens, so will her commitment." Indeed. A few weeks later, back in Rome, Giannini e-mails that she now has a new favorite shower song: Beyoncé's "Run the World [Girls]."

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