There’s something of sixties London in the pipeline right now, which probably means David Bailey is about to have another moment. Frida Giannini caught an early whiff of it with her latest collection of menswear for Gucci. Bailey’s classic portraits of the era have always helped nourish Giannini’s fantasies of London. There and then, London’s la dolce vita was mod. Here and now, on the Gucci catwalk, mod was embodied again by skinny, speedy boys in turtlenecks and drainpipes paired with hyper-tailored bum-freezers and shrunken peacoats, and topped off with the sort of fisherman’s cap John Lennon once favored. In fact, the cap-peacoat-and-black-leather-pants combo felt a little like something the Beatles would have worn in their Hamburg days.
But this was no mere retro-vision on Giannini’s part. Neoprene bonding mutated classics. The monochrome of mod was alleviated by creamy pastels lifted from the palette of rising young Canadian art star Kris Knight. They added a subtle energy, particularly in leather, to pieces like the powder-pink blazer and the pale blue military shirt. If the artificiality made you think of sugary pop, it also had a slightly fetishistic kink (maybe that’s a bullet a leather shirt will never really be able to dodge).
Back at the beginning of her reign at Gucci, Giannini showed a men’s collection that was fizzing with the fun of the ragazzi on Rome’s Via Veneto in its dolce heyday. Today’s outing may have been darker in tone—King Krule (neu-Morrissey) and Smiths (alt-Morrissey) on the soundtrack—but it was a reminder that Giannini still knows where the boys are.
The ninth-floor penthouse once belonged to the Gucci who was gunned down by his wife. It was bare bones when the Cavallis came across it, but Daniele Cavalli instantly felt its rightness for his vision. He thought it essential to create an environment that spoke about style, not fashion, to launch the new men’s collection. In 15 days, the huge apartment was transformed
into the Cavalli version of a traditional gentlemen’s club. There was a lot of purple and pony skin, and a view of the Duomo for which people would sell their firstborn.
Daniele Cavalli is 26. He has been directing the menswear arm of his family’s business for two years. Tonight, Dad was laid up at home with the flu, and as Daniele walked guests through his playland, his enthusiasm was barely contained. Total control! Still, he sounded like a chip off Roberto’s block when he talked about making his own prints using an instrument called a
teleidoscope. Unlike a kaleidoscope, it fractures reality into a thousand glittery fragments. Everywhere, there were teleidoscopic prints: feathers, snakeskin, flowers, on jackets, matching shirts and ties. They contributed to the uniquely Cavalli-esque quality of the daywear, though it was already there in spades in a crocodile-printed pony coat, or another one in leather with bejeweled buttons and buckles.
But Daniele didn’t really give the impression that daywear was where his heart lay. He became positively electric as he entered the salons where the eveningwear was displayed. “I want the Cavalli man to be the equal of the Cavalli woman,” he proclaimed; considering her wanton allure, that will be a tall order. But Daniele gave it a shot with a full range of evening jackets, from basic black tux to Vegas-beaded extravaganza. There were shoes and bow ties in every texture from feather to croc, and cufflinks that ran a gamut from semiprecious bees to small, discreet squares of white python. (Nice, those.) The photographer Rankin produced a
portfolio of images and videos to illuminate the collection. All in all, it was an ambitious leap into the future from a young someone whose strands of DNA are twisted with glitz. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so they say. Anyway, everything looks better with a view.