The finale at the Gucci spring/summer 2015 show / GETTY

Our fashion editor sees how creative director Frida Giannini presents spring/summer 2015 collection, inspired by the luxury fashion house's past

One of the enduring images of Gucci’s past is of Jackie Kennedy Onassis on a New York street in 1970 lugging a squishy tote she had become so attached to, Gucci rechristened it the “Jackie”.

That bag has been a Gucci goldmine - they reworked it for Winter 2014, loosened it up and christened it the Jackie Soft - but the rest of the outfit was pretty good too. It certainly reflects a period the house has turned to again and again for inspiration. Take spring/summer 2015, for example, particularly as it was shown today, the opening day of the Milan season.

Rather than committing all-out to sixties flower children or seventies decadence, Gucci’s creative head Frida Giannini has dithered, toeing the line between the two. That was why you saw, in quick succession, models sporting whip-smart topstitched suits with A-line skirts hovering below the knee, and blowsy georgette smock-dresses coiled with serpentine prints. Those were the polar extremes, but there were plenty of similarly jarring moments in between, like oversized openwork foliate lace, blown up safari-style eyelet lacing, python, denim-on-denim studded with giant brass buttons, and a couple of Sergeant Pepper braid-bedecked jackets. 

They added up to an odd, fractured whole. Sometimes, Giannini tried to reconcile the disparate parts, by running lace and lacing simultaneously through a leather dress, say, or frogging the top of a chiffon evening dress like an officer’s jacket (it looked as ungainly as it sounds).

The silhouettes - mostly short, mostly lean - were hangovers from Giannini’s winter collection, and earlier still. She’s done them often. They felt old. Maybe Giannini has decided this is what Gucci stands for, this retrograde retro kick. The trouble is that Gucci as a house has no stamp of ownership over these clothes, the way they do over those ubiquitous bags. To British eyes, the knotted scarves and A-line silhouettes read as Sloaney Poney, Princess Anne in her tack-shop best. Italians would probably see someone chicer, like Maria Agnelli. But neither reinforced the contemporary identity of the label, nor of Giannini as a designer.

A model presents a creation from the Gucci collection during Milan Fashion Week spring/summer 2015

The former is the bigger issue for the label. Designers can be replaced, but as Gucci launches a comprehensive new cosmetics venture, they need to stop relying on the past to define their present. I’m betting hippy won’t sell lippy.