BUSINESS

Giannini exits Gucci early as team scurries to redesign collection, a tribute to France

01/19/2015 11:33 EST | Updated 03/21/2015 05:59 EDT
MILAN - The fashion curtain call is part of the ritual of the runway show, with each designer's personality reflected in that final bow.

Some, like Miuccia Prada, appear in the doorway for a nanosecond. Donatella Versace walks a good 10 metres (yards) out to salute the crowd, while Giorgio Armani stands perfectly lit in the darkened stage entrance.

Monday was to be Frida Giannini's last bow as creative director at Gucci's menswear after a decade at the Florentine house — but that was not to be. The highly anticipated curtain call was cancelled without explanation. Instead, the bow went to a young design team that completely revamped the collection Giannini had prepared.

Here are some highlights from menswear previews for next autumn and winter from the third day of Milan Fashion Week on Monday:

A NEW GUCCI CHAPTER

The Gucci style team may have pulled off a fashion record. They designed and produced the menswear runway show for next winter in five days, after outgoing creative director Frida Giannini left sooner than had been announced.

Giannini's exit from the storied Florentine fashion house was announced last month by the French owners, Kering, which said she would leave after showing the men's and women's collections for autumn and winter 2016. No reason was given for the change of plans. Gucci's press team on site Monday called the decision to redesign the collection from scratch "a new chapter."

A team of young designers, led by head accessories designer Alessandro Michele, came out and took a collective bow, to sustained applause. Gucci said a successor to Giannini would be announced "in due course."

GUCCI SALUTES THE FRENCH REPUBLIC

Gucci's androgynous collection, worn by both male and female models, appeared to be a tribute to French artists, intellectuals and revolutionaries in the wake of the twin terror attacks in Paris this month that have shaken Europe and the world.

The hues of red, white and blue, the colours of the French flag, contributed to the sense of #jesuischarlie camaraderie that sprung up worldwide in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Many of the outfits suggested characters from France's rich cultural history: A white shirt with a dark ribbon tied in a bow around the neck, worn with blue trousers and capped with a red beret, was reminiscent of a French school uniform. A more elaborately tied silken bow conjured the image of a poet. A fur-trimmed cape was befitting of an artist setting up his easel in a Parisian park.

EMPORIO ARMANI

Metallic brush strokes across classic fabrics and dramatic zipper placements defined the new Emporio Armani line, aimed at youthful-minded dressers.

"I wanted to recapture some grit with a style that was not too aggressive, but with pride and refined materials and shapes," Armani told reporters.

Trousers come with a zip at the ankle, while more athletic cuts of pants carried the zip dramatically across a diagonal all the way down to the cuff. Armani continued his exploration of the jacket, creating new versions out of soft rough-cut jersey with a waistband in the back that gives it a blousy feel.

The collection opened with a line of models dressed in ski racing bodysuits, a glimpse of his EA7 line of athletic wear — which the designer said in a little over four years has grown to revenues of 100 million euros. "Nothing to laugh about," he said.

EXPO'S FASHION AMBASSADOR

Giorgio Armani, who celebrates 40 years in the fashion business this year, has been appointed to the role of Expo 2015 fashion ambassador for the six-month world's fair opening May 1.

The 80-year-old designer is planning a gala runway show at his theatre to coincide with Expo's opening. Armani said he won't necessarily create a new Expo collection, and he hasn't decided what elements of his collections he will highlight: menswear, womenswear or his highly prized Prive couture line.

Armani also has invested 50 million euros to open an exhibit space called Silos where he will show a retrospective of his 40-year career "from the first clothes, to the last," he said.

UNDERWEAR AS EVENINGWEAR

Andrea Pompilio has given thermal underwear a major upgrade.

In his second season at the 80-year-old Canali label, Pompilio created fine silk-cashmere pullovers reminiscent of thermal underwear, down to the ribbing on the cuff that peeked out form the jacket sleeve, and paired them with colorful tuxedoes in eye-popping shades of crimson and yellow. "I love it. This kind of almost underwear, but it becomes eveningwear," the designer said backstage.

Pompilio continues to put his stamp on the historic brand -- in check patterns, this season more macro, and horizontal stripes, both abstract and graphic. The collection was among the most composed on the Milan runway, with a strong focus on elegant men's suits, in keeping with the Canali DNA, combining with softer, less formal sweaters. Looks were finished with hybrid mountaineering shoes with metal rivet lace holders, meant for urban terrain.