Tomboy tailoring adds to Gucci's serious sex appeal

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The Independent Online

For next spring, Giannini has replaced the brand's signature skin-tight pencil skirts and skimpy evening gowns with tomboy tailoring and girlish dresses scattered with floral prints.

It was a positive start for Giannini, 32, who is the third designer in less than two years to head up the glitzy brand. An opening sequence of boxy black jackets, worn with colourfully striped rugby shirts and tight, boyish trousers looked youthful yet still body-conscious. The floral-printed, puff-sleeved dresses that followed, although repetitive in this show, also balanced sex appeal with freshness, a sprinkling of sequins or flashes of flesh adding glamour to some of the flowery looks.

The night before her debut show, Giannini said: "I want to put the joy back into the brand", adding that sex appeal would not be sacrificed in the process. "Sexy is in the DNA of Gucci. But I want to make it less aggressive," she said.

Meanwhile, Jil Sander is a fashion house currently in a state of interregnum. The eponymous designer exited her Prada Group-owned company, for the second time, a year ago, and although the Belgian menswear designer Raf Simons has already been named as her successor, his first collection is slated for next January. In the meantime, the Jil Sander "team" - the low-profile studio designers - have taken up the slack.

They did this with great elegance and respect for Sander's sober aesthetic. A pristine white shirt with rolled sleeves and a smoky grey skirt with a utility belt opened the show, which had a gently sporty theme. Hoods were the common factor that united shirt dresses, an egg-yolk yellow silk jumpsuit and silvery crochet dresses. A Grecian mood prevailed at Missoni, where the brand's signature bold stripes and delicate knitwear as ever took centre stage. The designer Angela Missoni, daughter of founders Rosita and Ottavio, has brought glamour and femininity, and her evening dresses in particular are strong for 2006.

Giorgio Armani entitled his signature collection "Today" and yet its neutral colour palette recalled his Eighties glory days. The man the Italians call "Il Signor Beige" for spring stuck to shades of grey for his tailoring, where trousers were full and fluid and short jackets nipped in at the waist.