When Guccio Gucci founded his little suit and baggage shop in Florence, Italy in 1921, he had just returned from London and was strong on the idea of applying Tuscan artistry to the refined British styles of the day. How could he have known then that his commitment to style, refinement, and unmistakable quality would result in a fashion empire that demands respect for the name Gucci? Never mind the insignificant street thugs who would turn his name into urban slang. Gucci is a fashion label that sets standards only a handful can ever hope to reach. In recent years, creative director Frida Giannini has taken the brand even further with handbags, shoes, fragrances, and even children’s wear. Gucci is an unquestionable powerhouse that even those outside fashion must recognize.

Watching this afternoon’s fall/winter 2014 collection was in many ways a trip back to the 1960s, a trend we saw in London and which apparently plans to continue in Milan. So strong was the 60s vibe, I would not have been the least bit surprised had Sophia Loren come sauntering down the runway. Everything from the severely tapered cigarette pants to the double-breasted jackets, A-line skirts, boots, and sunglasses yanked us strongly back to the decade of my earliest memories.

What one noticed first in this collection are the boots. Someone cue Nancy Sinatra, please. Knee-high, zip up the inside seem, and bl0ck heels are probably the strongest and most consistent element throughout this collection. While offered in a variety of colors, the style most likely to make a splash in stores this fall is the snake print that not only adorns the boots but several of the ensembles as well. Frida dramatically enlarges the print for the clothing so that the overall head-to-toe look is daunting as it comes down the runway.

Almost as strong are the modified aviator-style sunglasses. Gone are the mirrored lenses and wire frames, though. In their place are broad colored frames with shaded translucent lenses of the same  color. Those who are real Gucci fans will need multiple pairs to match whatever color scheme one is wearing.

Clothes are fitted and sexy, especially with those pants, most of which are leather. Leather pants can be a difficult fit under any circumstances, but to squeeze your flesh into these not only is one going to have to back off the Big Macs and hit the gym, but a little bit of petroleum jelly on the legs probably isn’t going to hurt, either. Those whose feet are a little broad may not survive getting through a leg so tapered as to hug the ankle. If you want to wear these pants, one is really going to have to work at doing so.

Dresses fare a little better. Though bodices are form fitting, the leather here doesn’t suck itself to the body as it does with the slacks. A-line skirts help the look a lot and hem lines are kept well above the knee so those boots really look their best.

Heavy on leather, which isn’t terribly unusual for this brand, Frida gives the last few looks some futuristic sparkle with the addition of appliqued glass tiles applied to  the bodice of dresses so that they sparkle and catch even the faintest glimmer of light. There’s no hiding in the dark with these looks, and wearing them out in bright sunlight could very well cause blindness for those caught in the glare. Perhaps these pieces should come with a warning sticker?

Beautiful, refined, and tailored to the highest quality, Frida has produced yet another uncompromising collection destined to sell out of stores quickly. Pretenders can take a seat in the ally. This is Gucci.

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