Dispatches from Milan: Gucci, Alberta Ferretti & Fausto Puglisi

Day one in Milano

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By: Rebecca Lowthorpe Follow @Rebecca_ELLE

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Gucci Autumn/Winter 2014

Unexpected colour and a plundering of the 1960s archives marked a creative turning point for Gucci. Frida Giannini steered the collection away from fierce sexiness and replaced it with a fresher, more spirited kind of glamour. It was out with steel-point stilettos and in with square-toed, low-heeled go-go boots. She had been looking at the house’s heritage icons. Picture Jackie Kennedy in her smart, short buttoned-up Gucci coats or the model Veruschka in a 1960s Gucci advertising campaign wearing a black leather shirt with sharp, hipster trousers and flat boots with a metal snaffle on the toe - Giannini wore an almost identical outfit to take her bow. But this collection didn’t reek ‘retro’. One of Giannini’s greatest strengths is herability to reproduce the familiar with a new context.

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The first hit to the senses was her unpredictable use of pretty colour: cornflower, dusty pink, pale mint, deep lemon and camel. Next up, the mix of boy-girl silhouettes – Gucci always looks great when the sexiness is filtered through a man’s sharp wardrobe. Then comes the unbridled luxury, such as panels of nappa leather stitched into precise minimal dresses, or big fur coats that came in shearling, goat or beaver. One oversized t-shirt was rendered in pink mink. No long gowns for evening, instead, a few inches above the knee cocktail dresses embroidered with glittery shards – a bid for the younger generation of red carpet walkers? Every look – like Marc Jacobs last week in New York - came with a pair of square-toed ankle or knee high boots, each sealed with a snaffle horse bit. Could this be the boot of the season?

Left to right: Alberta Ferretti, Gucci & Fausto Puglisi

Alberta Ferretti is known for her delicate ‘angel dresses’, dresses so fine and gauzy they appear to have been made from kittens’ whiskers. This season, however, she took nature as her theme – the bark on a tree, birds’ feathers, leaves on branches – and translated this into lavish opulence. Jackets were inlaid with silk and wool and glass beads, skirts and dresses were decorated with feathers, trimmings of silk, leather and wool. Everything was so incredibly richly adorned that it jarred with the season’s clean lines and stripped-back boldness. Of course there were exquisite pieces if you’re in the market for an alpaca coat, say, lined with sequins reminiscent of the ‘undergrowth’s natural camouflage’. ‘I want to convey emotions. Simple, true emotions like the ones which occur spontaneously when observing nature,’ Ferretti said. If emotions can be decoded as clothes, these were complex, multifaceted feelings alright, and right now the rest of fashion is serving up more straightforward passions.

That’s why Fausto Puglisi’s brand of glamour works a treat: straight-forward, sexy, colourful, fun and spirited. Yes, it’s brash – those Harlequin-hued triangles on leggings, skin-tight bodies, and second-skin tops; the flirty micro triangular skirts; the metalwork decoration on dresses and gold-tipped boots. But the effect is drama that doesn’t require much thought. You just have to be a Fausto girl to wear it – young, confident and with a killer body. Puglisi is smart too, by showing so many variations, he rammed home the fact that you could just take one piece – a sweatshirt featuring Lady Liberty, say, and wear it with jeans. Or for the more discerning customer, (one who rarely steps out of her safe black comfort zone) a below-knee pleat skirt in blocks of colour.

See the full Gucci A/W 2014 collection

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