Models on the runway at the Gucci Autumn/Winter 2012/2013 fashion show / Getty Images


It was clear at the Gucci show in Milan today which sectors are not yet feeling the pinch, with a series of red carpet dresses to tempt celebrities ahead of this weekend’s Oscars ceremony, and an autumn collection of velvet, silk and brocade separates that will play well among the label’s luxury-focussed clientele in China.

Chief executive of PPR, Gucci’s parent company, Francois Henri Pinault posed for photographs with Chinese starlet Gao Yuanyuan before the show, a week after his company’s announcement that Gucci’s sales in Asia had propped up the luxury goods conglomerate’s figures this year.

According to AFP, Chinese imports of Italian textiles went up 27 per cent in 2011 – not a figure to be disregarded while the country is mired in austerity measures and its fashion industry is predicting a five per cent drop in revenues for 2012. Such is the demand from this market, not to mention the economic necessity of addressing its consumers, that Milan Fashion Week’s governing body, the Camera Moda, has this season launched a Chinese language version of its website.

And it was clear from the clothes that this had been taken into account, with Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini incorporating some of the house’s most successful signatures into her baroque-tinged, Chinoiserie-inspired vision for the coming season.

The label’s trademark leather riding boots and tasselled cord belts were teamed with silk and velvet brocade dresses and chiffon blouses with billowing bell sleeves and upright ruffled collars that recalled Edwardian Orientalism in their side-fastening cheongsam necklines. Characteristic gold hardware came on military-derived cropped and voluminous jackets, and prim blouses were updated with pleated tie necks. Forest green, burgundy and aubergine hues added to a feel of unadulterated luxury that began in sumptuous textures such as shearling and mink inlaid on chiffon to make full, silken coats and ended in a dress, skirt and jacket all made from a pavé of shimmering midnight green feathers.

“This is modern-day romanticisim,” Giannini explained, citing the pre-Raphaelites as inspiration. “Dramatic sensuality, and dark glamour.”

For the finale, chunky crystals and sequins were embroidered onto full-length goddess gowns made from double layers of wrinkled tulle that undulated with the body so as to shift from opaque to sheer with each step.

More than 72 fashion houses will show their collections in venues across the city over the next six days, with Prada and Fendi scheduled for tomorrow and Versace and Giorgio Armani over the weekend.