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August 6, 2013

Behind Chime for Change with Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini

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Photo Credit: Pari Dukovic

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The concert will end up drawing 1 billion viewers and raising more than $4 million for nonprofit organizations. Giannini's "speech" is more of a brief welcome. "Tonight we come together for every woman, every girl, everywhere," she says to the crowd of more than 50,000, before introducing Beyoncé with Salma Hayek Pinault. Now she makes good on her promise to kick back and enjoy the show. "Having an infant doesn't impact my everyday life," says Giannini, who left the baby at home this evening. "I've never been a big sleeper anyway. Greta doesn't affect my daily routine—I've never had one. We always have so much going on, every day is different." Much has been made of the fact that Beyoncé and Hayek Pinault—her friends and Chime for Change cofounders—have young daughters, too. "We didn't plan that," Giannini says, laughing. "And, no, we haven't set up playdates yet. Chime was in my mind before Greta was. But I certainly feel closer to the cause now."

"Frida's addicted to charity—you can feel the energy she puts into it," says James Franco, who produced the documentary The Director, which followed Giannini over the course of a year and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring. It took that long for his famously private subject to open up enough to have something to film. In between professional duties (presenting Gucci's first show in Shanghai, coaching a Mick Jagger–look-alike model for the spring 2013 men's collection), there are personal moments: cooking pasta and clams for her art historian mother and architect father at "The Cube," her ultramodern white beach house in the coastal town of Sabaudia, an hour south of Rome, once owned by film director Pier Paolo Pasolini. Running on the beach with her German shepherd, Gunner the IV. Talking about her relationship. "My love life is very good," she says on camera. "I don't always want to discuss business with Patrizio—I'd rather talk about dinner or a movie. But it's difficult. Sometimes I have to call his assistant to make an appointment with him. He does the same."

FRANCO, THE FACE OF two Gucci fragrances and Gucci sunglasses and something of the designer's Dauphin, sits ringside with a beaming Giannini as she holds court in the skybox, buzzing with the likes of Blake Lively, Jessica Chastain, Christopher Kane, Peaches Geldof (whose father, Bob Geldof, cofounded Band Aid), and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York. Charlotte Casiraghi sings along to "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + the Machine, whose lead singer, Welch, stops by after the rollicking performance. Over the deafening din, Net-a-Porter's Natalie Massenet shouts, "Frida rocks, doesn't she?" When Jennifer Lopez and Mary J. Blige electrify the house with a sexy rendition of "Come Together," Giannini gets up to dance, joining the rest of the audience already on their feet.

"There's a Greek word, kalokagathia, which combines two words, beauty and good," explains Giannini, a reminder that she studied the classics at the Italian equivalent of high school, Liceo Classico Luciana Manara, before taking up fashion at Rome's Accademia di Costume e di Moda. The ancient philosophers endlessly debated beauty's ability to contribute to the highest good and, she says, "That's what I'm after. I design beautiful products, but there has to be empowerment behind them." The unapologetic classicist is quick to identify as a Roman snob. "I adore traveling, but after a certain point, I'm missing Rome. I'm rooted there. I still have the same friends for 20 years, and that's who I want to have dinner with."


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