Still, Giannini was determined to keep the Gucci design office in Italy. She chose Rome over Milan because in the latter, she imagined herself stuck in a dead-end fashion alley. “I didn’t like the idea of going out at night and running into this and that designer or assistant with inevitable fashion conversations,” she says. As for the competition, the Rome houses of Valentino and Fendi aren’t exactly neighbors, as they sit close, respectively, to the touristy landmarks of Piazza di Spagna and Via dei Condotti. Giannini instead opted for a quainter district where traditional trattorias, tiny antiques stores and workshops share the sidewalk.
Luckily for the designer, what she describes as the current “mega-galactic economic crisis” exploded after her bosses—PPR CEO François-Henri Pinault and Mark Lee, Gucci’s then CEO—had greenlighted the relocation. “It’s not like they jumped for joy when I told them my idea, but they understood my reasons,” Giannini explains. “It would be an entirely different story today.”