Gucci Seeks to Swap Gaudy for Glam in Lavish Trip to China

Gucci Seeks to Swap Gaudy for Glam in Lavish Trip to China
Frida Giannini and Patrizio di Marco attend Gucci's first Fashion Show in China
(Getty Images for Gucci)

Gucci creative director Frida Giannini stormed into Shanghai this past weekend for the label’s historic first fashion show in the city, and in case you want to know every detail of her goings-on, she wrote a diary for the Daily Beast.

She doesn’t scrimp on the small stuff. The rugs on the runway were burgundy and the bouquets were gardenias and orchids — items lifted directly from the Gucci fall/winter show in Milan last February. Hilary Swank sat front row, and her dress from the 2011 Academy Awards was on display in a Gucci exhibition alongside other items from the company’s historical archives. Giannini goes on to speak breathlessly of China’s gleaming jade butterfly brooches, its no-nonsense starlets, and the blowout party they threw at the Gucci Club. This temporary venue, she writes, was “a 360-degree experience that melds Italian heritage with the vibrancy of Shanghai.”

But while the diary is entertaining, there’s more at stake than a creative director’s adventures in jewelry shopping and late-night partying.  

In today’s WWD, a report from Shanghai focuses on the brand’s current struggles with the changing style mores and spending habits of young Chinese women. The Gucci look known to the country for the past 10 years — over-sexed outfits and gaudy “G” emblems — is apparently no longer in tune with the times.

Patrizio di Marco, Gucci’s president and CEO, told WWD that he hoped the sophistication and elegance of the new collection will “stress the glamour side, the fashion side, our being modern and contemporary.” The scene at a Gucci party, however, suggested there’s a long way to go until the brand reaches that ideal. The report goes on to note: “There were lots of logocentric Gucci handbags and shoes, while young women wore mishmashes of animal prints and skintight dresses reminiscent of promwear from the Eighties ... A couple of women wore track suits paired with platform heels.” 

Not exactly Hilary Swank at the Oscars.

So, can Gucci alter its identity, push aside the mountains of knock-offs and become hip in Shanghai? It’s unclear, but maybe it’s chosen the right city to focus on. Rumor has it Andre Saraiva, the L’Officiel Hommes creative director with an inner eye for hot spots, is opening the next branch of his Le Baron nightclub in Shanghai. From New York’s Chinatown to China itself.