During the 89th edition of Pitti Immagine the MINI space at Fortezza da Basso hosted The Latest Fashion Buzz, a selection of talented international designers committed to developing a new concept of modernity in menswear, a project that Pitti has been presenting for several seasons now, in collaboration with L'Uomo Vogue, GQ Italy and Lagente. Among the selected talents is Alexis Giannotti with his brand Omogene. A native of the Principality of Monaco, the designer presented his collection for men, with a small capsule for female customers, in which his passion for the street world and his studies in architecture combine in a wardrobe featuring quality and functionality. We interviewed Giannotti in Florence.
How did you get started in fashion?
I started with the street fashions, inspired by brands like Stüssy and generally by all those brands that you find in concept stores like Colette in Paris.
I belong to the world of street photography, of people like Henri Cartier-Bresson or Joel Meyerowitz. I've always liked to observe everyday life and create stories where the "anonyme" is the protagonist, even if it's only for a moment. This feeling started for me with the skateboard: I used to go all round the city on it, and other places too. The second stage of my journey started while I was studying Architecture in Florence in 2006.
As I see it, architects create solid, immobile structures, while artists, be they painters or sculptors, create strong, expressive beauty; but in both cases the artistic forms remain remote from our daily lives, whereas fashion enables us to link together both the emotion of creating and the functionality of the object that is developed.
The contact with the poetic world of the street, passed on through photography, led me to get to know the work of Martin Margiela, and I found in that a key to interpretation that melded with my own way of thought.
Then during my studies in industrial design, I acquired a love for curving and organic lines, first kindled by Antoine Lavoiser, who believed: “Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme”.
So fashion was the point of departure for me to express my way of thought: imparting poetry to clothes without taking away their functionality in doing so.
When did you realise that this would become your field of work?
When I realised that a fabric can contain poetry.
Can you tell us about the collection we saw in Florence?
The F/W 2016-17 collection was inspired by Bruce Davidson's subway: he was the American photo-journalist who immortalized everyday life in the New York subways in his photographs, where beauty and its anonymous essence became the protagonists. Another source of inspiration was "Au fil des pages", a series of images by a French photographer who "froze" the frenetic life of Tokyo, creating clichés fused with a palette of cold colours, with a prevalence of shades of grey, black and blue. It's the subway that encloses within it an impetuous everyday life, an impervious consciousness, a suspended movement, a place where we let ourselves gently dangle among the shades of grey and the subway "vapours".
The dampness of underground places thus becomes the romantic surface film of the observer. The faces blend into each other and the colours spread out; both mingle together in a hubbub, the kind that we would call a melting pot.
What are the cornerstones of your work, its main characteristics?
The cornerstones of my work are based on the transformation and redevelopment of objects and functionality, that is, making every collection a theme that is cross-fertilised from many other sources. It's a cross-fertilization that, ironically, I would call homogeneous!
Where do you get your inspiration?
It comes from particular moments, as I'm walking along the frenetic streets of a city, from the colours, the sounds and even from mistakes.
Who will wear your creations and who are your main icons?
I don't have any main icons, but if I were forced to name one then I would say Serge Gainsbourg. In this sense I consider myself an iconoclast. I look at the essence of things – not at the person who has made them, but rather at what they represent. The attitude of the Omogene man is that of an elegant "Flâneur" and aesthete.
How important are moments and projects such as The Latest Fashion Buzz?
The projects organized by Pitti allow comparison, and a visibility that is nowadays almost impossible to obtain on one's own. I'm grateful for the support of Pitti Discovery because of the visibility that the brand has obtained.
Do you have any special memories or anecdotes from this Pitti show?
Meeting other designers from different backgrounds, each of whom has a story to tell. It's always delightful to discover other points of view and get another vision.
Do you have any plans for the future?
To extrapolate an outfit from the men's wardrobe that's suited to Omogene woman. In fact, this winter collection has a 'femme box' of the most important pieces presented for Omogene man.
Then I'd like to find a crystal ball so I can give you a more precise answer!