Over a decade after joining the Italian fashion house – first as head of design for leather goods, then also ready-to-wear before becoming creative director in 2006 – Frida Giannini will leave her position end February 2015. Here, four of her most significant and memorable designs to own and keep.
1. The New Bamboo Handbag
Giannini’s strength lay in her ability to make archival designs modern, relevant and desirable. Debuted in 2010, the New Bamboo is her thoughtful update of the brand’s famous structured handbag – with a distinct bamboo handle – launched 63 years earlier. Compared to the original, it’s just as artisanal, assembled entirely by hand, but roomier (because we now carry more than just money and a compact case); more practical (cue the detachable shoulder strap); and looks current despite the vintage shape, thanks to bamboo fringe tassles and cool new finishes every season. The latest (above) comes in straw and punchy hued python skin ($5,850) out in January.
2. Horsebit-accented Shoes
The preppiest thing about Gucci also happens to be its most famous shoe: The Horsebit loafers that date back to 1953 and gets its name from the equestrian-inspired metal bar across its front. But not everyone is into preppy and Giannini knows that. Through her career at the label, she’s fashioned the hardware into jewellery as well as bag buckles, but her chicest and most modern interpretation remains in footwear. In Fall 2014, for example, she debuted the Lilian, a clever boot-loafer hybrid that comes this season in a thigh-high python skin version (above far left, $4,840) and leather bootie style (above middle, $1,530). For Resort 2015, she’s also created a leather mocassin that looks like a minimalist Horsebit (above right, $870).
3. Her Flora Updates
Giannini’s Spring/Summer 2005 revival of the brand’s elaborate floral print, originally for a scarf presented to Princess Grace of Monaco in 1966, reportedly was what led the brand to promote her to creative director. Since then, she’s regularly – and boldly – adapated it, making each version collectible-worthy. Case in point: Resort 2015’s modern romantic take co-created by Canadian artist Kris Knight and found on ready-to-wear, bags, and scarves. Above clockwise from left: Silk dress, $3,510, Bamboo leather tote, $3,090, and silk scarf, $380
4. The Soho Disco Shoulder Bag
Before small, vintage-inspired shoulder bags became trendy recently, Giannini was already onto it. In Resort 2013, she took the embossed interlocking “G” motif from the Soho line (also her creation) and put them onto party-ready bags (hence the name Disco). One of her hippest original bag designs, it’s updated in fun new hues every season.