Faceless Fashion; Top Couture Labels Were Once Defined by Their Big-Name Designers. Now Anyone Can Do the Job

By Thomas, Dana | Newsweek International, July 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

Faceless Fashion; Top Couture Labels Were Once Defined by Their Big-Name Designers. Now Anyone Can Do the Job


Thomas, Dana, Newsweek International


Byline: Dana Thomas

Quick: name the designer for Yves Saint Laurent. How about Gucci? Celine? Givenchy? Chloe? Seven or eight years ago, the answers were easy: Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, respectively. All were fashion stars who had become household names, and their stardom drew the spotlight onto their brands, increasing sales exponentially. Some of those brands grew to the point of doing more than $1 billion a year in sales. In return, the stars commanded multimillion-dollar deals, commuted on the Concorde, were ushered about town in limos and

showed up on red carpets almost as often as the celebrities they dressed. They worked large, and they lived large. They weren't just the creators of luxury fashion; they were its emblems.

But now celebrity fashion designers have gone the way of the power suit: they're so last century. Luxury brands no longer swipe stars from their competitors, as Christian Dior did in 2000 with Yves Saint Laurent's famed menswear designer Hedi Slimane. Instead, they tap young designers who have risen through the ranks of the big brands as assistants and who do their jobs quietly, well--and anonymously. "We don't have to bring in star designers because actually the stars today are the brands," says Robert Polet, who joined Gucci Group as CEO and president in 2004, after 25 years at Unilever. "This is a mind-set change we implemented. The brand is the hero, the king in all we do, and we all work for the brand."

Gucci's creative director Frida Giannini is a case in point. The 34-year-old Roman attended the city's Fashion Academy, where she won several competitions. Shortly after her graduation, she joined the Rome-based luxury brand Fendi as an assistant in the accessories department. During Giannini's tenure there, Fendi's sales exploded, thanks primarily to the wildly successful baguette bag. ("I cannot claim its maternity!" she told American Vogue, though she certainly had a hand in raising it.) After six years, Giannini moved to London to join Tom Ford's team at Gucci as handbag design director. When Ford left, Gucci promoted three in-house designers: Ford's ready-to-wear assistant Alessandra Facchinetti to do womenswear, Ford's menswear assistant John Ray to oversee that domain and Giannini to head the accessories department. After two disastrous collections, Facchinetti left. John Ray followed in January 2006, and Gucci executives asked Giannini to take over the whole shebang.

In her three seasons as Gucci's creative director, Giannini's collections of retro-glam clothes and handbags have been lauded in the press--International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes called the accessories for Fall-Winter 2007-2008 "exceptional"--and the products have sold splendidly. Giannini's Flora accessories line--built around a colorful floral print based on a 1960s Gucci scarf designed for Princess Grace that Giannini found in the archives--has been a huge success. "Since Frida took over the brand, it has had the two best years in the history of the company," Polet said. In 2006, Gucci rang up a staggering [euro]2.1 billion in sales.

Some designers--Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Stella McCartney and John Galliano, to name a few--ambitiously started their own ready-to-wear companies right out of school before going on to work for the big labels. But Giannini says, "I never thought of having my own brand. I like working for big companies. I like all the projects that you can do and seeing my designs on people around the world." She also doesn't mind designing for a brand with a strong heritage and image, instead of exploring her own inner voice. "I like history in general--at home, in art, in life--and I have under my nose the opportunity to explore this archive. Why not?" Above all, Giannini professes to like her anonymity. "I don't want to be a star," she says. "I'm very happy to be behind the scenes, doing my job in a calm and serene way. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Faceless Fashion; Top Couture Labels Were Once Defined by Their Big-Name Designers. Now Anyone Can Do the Job
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.