Giannini studied fashion design at Rome's Fashion Academy. In 1997, she worked for Fendi to design ready-to-wear. After three seasons, she was promoted to designer of leather goods. In 2002, she joined Gucci as design director of handbags.
In 2004, Giannini was appointed to head women's accessories when Tom Ford departed the company. At the time, Gucci stores focused its inventory on the "GG" monogram canvas bag. Giannini attempted to change Gucci's style from Tom Ford's designs by drawing from Gucci's heritage. Based on the 1960s Grace Kelly scarf, she developed the "Flora" collection of colorful bags. The collection was not well received by critics. In 2006, Women's Wear Daily commented: "Trends do not start here." However, Flora proved to be Giannini's first commercial success and she applied the style to other accessories including ballet shoes. In 2006, Giannini was promoted to Creative Director for the entire Gucci label.
Giannini continues to design from heritage. For example, the 2010 Winter Men's line was noted for influences from Gucci's equestrian history. However, Giannini says, "I don't think it is a nostalgic collection, but heritage is good for me—going back to the archives, but looking forward to the future."
In 2011 she created, in collaboration with Lapo Elkann, the Fiat 500 by Gucci, a special edition of the iconic Italian car. In 2013 she designed costumes for Olivia Wilde and Chris Hemsworth in the film Rush. She collects vinyl records, with her collection currently at 8,000.
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- Passariello, Christina (September 21, 2010). "Gucci Unpacks 'La Dolce Vita'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- Menkes, Suzy (January 18, 2010). "The Calm After the Storm". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- Gahan, Dave. "Frida Giannini". Interview Magazine. Retrieved October 24, 2011.