MFW: GENNY F/W 2014

Through the years, I’ve seen many models try to make the transition from runway to designer. Victoria Beckham is probably the name most familiar, but her brand still has yet to catch on and see the retail success necessary. Mulberry pinned its fall/winter stakes on a set of handbags designed by model Cara Delevigne, a bit of a risky move perhaps, but one which gives them a lot of name recognition that could yet backfire on them when they’re looking for high sales volumes this fall. When looking long-term at model success stories, has anyone ever really made that leap successfully?

Sara Facchini wants to be the answer for which we are looking. Discovered by photographer Oliviero Toscani when she was 16, Sara enjoyed a long run as a cover and runway model before marrying the CEO of Swinger International, a Verona-based company invested heavily in Made In Italy brands. Joining the company in 2004, after obtaining a masters degree in journalism, Sara initially worked with managing model and celebrity endorsements. When the company bought the Genny brand in 2011, though, Sara’s creativity and design skills seemed to be the best fit and they named her creative director for the brand. Almost immediately, sales took off.

Mrs. Facchini prides herself on designing clothes that match her own busy lifestyle.  Often, I view such a statement with skepticism and anticipate loose-fitting, earth-toned day wear that is rather lacking in style. The mother of two seems to understand that, as much as anything, moms need to look pretty, too, and pretty is exactly what she delivers with this fall/winter collection. The question, though, is whether it is too pretty to be practical for the average housewife?

There’s no question that this is an attractive collection. Silhouettes are very feminine, with carefully tailored waists, generous cuts at the hips, peplum and shoulder pads to enhance that hourglass figure. Fabrics are light and flowing, with plenty of chiffon in skirts and delicate prints and well-folded pleats. All of those aspects result in pieces that look absolutely wonderful in a store window or catalog.

Unfortunately, all that prettiness translates to easy wrinkles and dry cleaning bills, neither of which are especially desirable for busy moms. While this collection may look good, it falls short of being practical for anyone who does not have an assistant to handle the steaming and fetching from the dry cleaners.

I like the look of practically everything in this collection. The only curious addition is short one piece that I would assume was meant as an exercise outfit if it weren’t for the chiffon sleeves that make it totally impractical. Perhaps there was supposed to be a skirt to go with this look? There is plenty of variety with some items appropriate for office wear and others more formal for after 5. What there’s not, though, are pieces that can handle the messy hand prints of small children or an after school stop at the playground.

All this brings us back to my original question: do former models make for successful designers? Genny’s sales have remained strong across Europe, but there still seems to be a disconnect between what works for someone with high income versus everyone else in the world. Mrs. Facchini’s clothes may fit her lifestyle, but are hardly practical for a mom who does everything by herself.

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