Frida Giannini. A soli 35 anni, una delle donne più potenti del mondo
An office overlooking Piazza della Signoria within an ancient palace full of history. Frida Giannini, the creative director of all Gucci’s collections and lines, works there. Alongside a staff of about fifty people, as young as her and equally devoted to reinventing the style of a worldwide brand that has been breaking all sales records lately.
Frida. As delicate as a petal, long, straight blond hair, only a touch of lipstick and mascara, tapering fingers with wedding ring, a frank smile, she looks down to the piazza below, to Florence that has adopted her and treats her like a queen. The queen of “the made in Italy”, say her admirers. This strong and determined yet very reserved young lady has been able to do, in a handful of years, what usually takes an entire career and without connections nor recommendations, only her parent’s loving words.
She is blessed with a resolute nature that makes her design twelve collections the year and supported by the love of her husband, the Florentine Giovan Battista Guidi, a web designer with whom she lives in a villa on the hills of Florence designed by her father, furnished by Frida herself with pieces and objects of the ’40s and ‘50s found all over the world and an indoor pool. At 35 years of age, she is one of the world’s most powerful women (according to the Wall Street Journal’s list), she is at the head of a €2 billion luxury house and, in the space of two years, through hard work and persistence, she has put to rest once and for all her former boss Tom Ford’s glamorous-fetish style.
However, success has not gone to her head. She is still moved by her girlhood memories, when she was in high school in Rome and then attended the Fashion Academy and she dreamed of becoming famous. And famous she became, by landing a job at Fendi where she designed handbags, then jumping to Gucci where she was appointed director of accessories and eventually, in the post-Ford era, creative director, directly by the company, as Frida proudly points out.
Frida, you have completely changed the Gucci woman’s image over three years time, from sexy to sensuous. How do you see women changing in the next ten years?
“It’s true, my creative direction is a turning point in Gucci’s life: a fresh, optimistic and determined direction without forgetting about this historic brand’s tradition and artisan nature. I believe-says Frida in her big office inundated with light- that we can stay at the top only if we keep our mind on this and safeguard the made in Italy products. I believe that in the next coming years women will do the same”.
If you were not a designer, what would you most like to do?
“I have always dreamed of being a designer, but I would have also enjoyed working with flowers or designing sceneries and interiors”.
How important is it, in creativity, to focus on saleable products?
“Creativity has to be supported by good sales”.
How do to you define contemporary elegance?
“I think being modern and elegant at the same time means combining taste and sensuousness, accuracy and attention to details”.
Who are the icons of style and charm, past and present, you draw inspiration from?
“In the past, Alston, a niche designer of the ‘70s, and Jackie Kennedy who is closely tied to Gucci’s history. Today, I would say Roisin Murphy, former Moloko singer and Madonna. We are preparing with Madonna a huge event in New York, in February, for the opening of our store on Fifth Avenue, the biggest in the world”.
Womenswear, menswear, accessories, jewellery, perfumes: what is Frida’s next challenge?
“....perhaps having children”.
Lovely. Did it take more courage, luck or irresponsibility to take over Gucci?
“This job is like a high-speed moving train, you have to catch it in the nick of time and keep your balance, there are no certainties. I am a very determined and well-organized person, a no-nonsense type. If not, how could I daily face such a huge amount of work? I do not plan too much in the long-term, I focus on medium-term projects. I try to keep stress under control”.
How does a Roman live in Florence?
“I miss Rome very much, but Florence is a charming city. It is also the cradle of artisan skill, the place where Gucci was born. That is why I brought the stylistic department back to the town’s center, in the heart of Piazza della Signoria. I like Florence because it is on a human scale, you can easily reach any place on foot. It is unique, because you can live in the hills immersed in the green of Tuscan countryside and reach the center in only ten minutes time”.