While most Italian women exude a certain level of confidence and an enviable amount of innate style, Frida Giannini, the Creative Director of Gucci, is the epitome of European chic. The Rome-born beauty was raised by an architect father and a mother who was a professor of art history. After studying fashion design at Rome’s Fashion Academy, she began her career as a designer at Fendi. In 2002, Frida became the Handbag Design Director of Gucci and after only two years was appointed to the Creative Director of Accessories. In 2005, she was named the house’s Creative Director, overseeing womenswear and soon after also took over menswear. Frida has often looked to Gucci’s extensive archive as a source of inspiration, which can be clearly seen in the label’s beautiful collections. In addition to being a fashion force, Frida is also an extremely active philanthropist, aligning Gucci with several nonprofits including Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation—which works to protect motion-picture history—and UNICEF. In 2013 Frida cofounded (along with Beyoncé and Salma Hayek) Chime For Change, a campaign for girls’ and women’s rights. We get to know this powerful and inspiring leader of the fashion industry in our latest Women of Style interview.
Get to Know The Woman at the Helm of Gucci
On What Drew Her to the Fashion Industry
Frida in Moscow for the recent opening of a Gucci boutique there. Photo: Victor Boyko for Getty Images
"Growing up in Rome, my creativity and interest in design came from my family. My father was an architect, my mother taught art history and my grandmother owned a boutique. I quickly learned the skill of sketching and drawing, but it wasn’t until my teenage years—during the height of Italian fashion in the 1980s—that I realized I wanted to be a designer."
On The Key to her Success
An image of German model Veruschka von Lehndorff wearing Gucci pants in Rome in 1971. Photo: Corbis/Gucci
"I work with a talented team with a strong commitment to my vision for Gucci. Together we understand the importance of the house’s iconography, and we work to create trendsetting collections with a sense of innovation. Drawing from Gucci’s powerful heritage is part of my inspiration as I evolve and write my own chapter in this story. It's not about nostalgia but instead a perspective on how the past informs fashion’s future."
Her Goal As Creative Director
Photo: Gucci Spring 2015
"When I came on board it was important to establish a strong, personal point of view that distinguished my own work from the past. I set out to bring a new sensibility."
Her Advice to Someone Wanting to Pursue a Career In Fashion
Photo: Line 8 Photography.
"Trust your instincts and fight for your ideas. Never underestimate your work. There is no perfect equation to achieve success as a designer in the industry today. That said, one needs strong instincts, innate creativity, a clear point of view and the ability to make decisions. I would say it’s also important to keep an open mind and know who your customer is across different markets. And you must surround yourself with the right people and know to trust your team."
The Best Career Advice She’s Received
Photo: Getty Images for Gucci
"Someone once told me, 'Express yourself in a personal, effortless way and you will succeed.' I think about this often and always remember to be confident and elegant in my career."
The Items Every Woman Should Own
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis carrying Gucci's iconic Jackie bag in New York City in 1970. Photo: Ron Galella/Gucci
"An iconic handbag, a great pant and a day-to-night dress."
On Her Personal Style
Photo: Courtesy of Gucci
"Every woman should interpret fashion in her own way, creating her own personal style. I like to mix items from current collections with vintage pieces. Fashion is exciting when you can be creative and personalize things."
What She Wears When She Wants to Feel Glamorous
Photo: Courtesy of Gucci
"I think makeup is necessary to really define a woman’s look. This is why it was important to me to add cosmetics to the Gucci world. To feel glamorous, I feel women should draw attention to their eyes. A woman’s eyes are magnetic and can really exude confidence. Lipstick can also be very transforming and add glamour to even the most classic look."
What She Is the Most Proud Of
Photo: BFA NYC
"My daughter, Greta. Motherhood has changed me—my life is now more balanced and complete."
On Balancing Work and Personal Life
Frida with her boyfriend Patrizio di Marco, Gucci President and CEO. Photo: BFA NYC for Gucci
"Fortunately, having a daughter has really made me understand the importance of a work-life balance. Being so passionate about your job makes it hard to step away, but having Greta has taught me how important it is to keep that balance."
What She Loves Most About Living In Rome
Rome at night. Photo: iStock
"It was a wonderful place to grow up because there was so much to do and see. The city never sleeps, and that energy is infectious. I think my personality reflects a lot of Rome’s characteristics—the openness, excitement and warmth."
On Why She Started Chime For Change with Salma Hayek and Beyoncé
Beyoncé and Frida at the 2014 Chime for Change event. Photo: BFA NYC for Gucci
"Chime For Change was started as a global campaign to raise funds and awareness for girls’ and women’s empowerment. Discrimination and violence against women are still happening everywhere around the world. At Gucci, we are proud to put the weight of our name behind worthy causes. Both Salma and Beyoncé are talented individuals who share my commitment to philanthropy. I always strive to work with people who also want to share their stories to empower other women."
On Why Supporting the Film Industry and the Preservation Of Film Is Important to Gucci
Frida and Rachel at this year's LACMA Art + Film Gala.
"Gucci has a longstanding relationship with cinema and Hollywood, dating back to the 1940s. There's a history of the house's association with Hollywood and with the world of film that I feel is important to carry forward in a meaningful way. We have worked closely for many years with important art and film-industry leaders including Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation, LACMA and the Tribeca Film Institute. Restoring cinematic treasures is an achievement I am very proud of."
What’s Next For Gucci
The two-story LED wall in the newly renovated Beverly Hills store. Photo: Getty Images for Gucci
"Something I am very excited about is my collaboration with Kris Knight, an extremely talented artist from Canada. For the Cruise 2015 collections, he reinterpreted the iconic Gucci Flora print, which has always been a strong source of inspiration for me. We wanted to showcase this partnership in a unique way so we created an animation of his print coming to life. This was unveiled on a two-story LED wall at the newly renovated Beverly Hills store that just opened."