Let's talk about talent and the new generation of creatives in menswear with Antonio Mancinelli. An exclusive interview for Pitti Discovery.
What does “talent” mean to you?
The word ‘talent’ for me means balancing knowledge of the market and its seesawing desires and a personal vision of the world. It is in this magic point of encounter between the two elements, one external, the other internal, that you can develop an aesthetic perspective that goes beyond simply following the latest trends. But which also leaves behind certain sterile, forced experiments in amazement that have nothing to do with the world of fashion (and also the concept of ‘art for art’s sake’ to me would seem to be decidedly outdated).
Does the Italian fashion system support our talents enough?
I would say absolutely not. Praise and glory should go to those who, like Giorgio Armani, offering his theatre, or Dolce & Gabbana, creating a sales area for new names, look to inject life into an Italian fashion scene that for too many years now has been the mere reflection of its own landscape, albeit a wonderful one. But we refer to exquisitely private businesses and the Chamber of Fashion can no longer entrust itself to certain ‘kind’ initiatives by big-name brands. It is up to the institutions to find solutions for presenting to the press and trade a new wave of creative minds that exists, is making headway and is extremely interesting. Perhaps we could draw inspiration from the French model, which inserts a lesser-known designer on its calendar every day, or copy the Film Festivals, from Cannes to Venice, with a section of the calendar just for them, like ‘Un certain regard’....
Who has the biggest potential on the Italian scene, in your opinion?
There are many interesting Italian names. Like coordinates on a graph, I would give four key-names as the drivers for new fashion, conceived and produced in Italy. The first is Luca Larenza, young in years but extremely respectful of tradition: he is carrying out innovative study into knits and men’s outerwear, bringing about a metamorphosis of the classic style in models that are contemporary, desirable, very carefully designed and reasoned.
Another name I am keeping an eye on is Gabriele Pasini, with his tailored line produced by Lardini, for whom he designs the collection that bears his name. Pasini, an expert in men's tailoring for over 25 years, gives an idea of formal elegance that seems to follow all the canons of more traditional ateliers, step by step, but at the same time he manages to insert between the folds of his impeccable suits a certain rebel feel, almost sophisticatedly subversive. Like in the two overlapping double-breasts on blazer and waistcoat of the three-piece suit and the Flemish floral tapestry fabric, ‘reworked’ in a military bush jacket.
On the other hand, I would shine the limelight on the ethical-ethnic mood of Stella Jean who, in a deliberate con-fusion of geographic influence, mixes western shapes with African patterns, Japanese influences and 18th century French crinolines. She works in an extremely intellectual manner, comparable to the work of an artist like Yinka Shonibare, but softening the political contestation aspect.
Finally, a real youngster, Francesco Ferrari, who, with his ‘Soul Skin’ collection, creates new strategies in dressing that rummage around in the themes of sexual genders, with clever use of leather and lighter fabrics, interpreted in wearable structures of elaborate simplicity, the result of exploration into a suit that is also a means of contrasting the individual’s personality. I adore Ferrari’s sensibility to new ways of communication, be they videos or unscrupulous use of social networks to get across a style that has more to do with experimentation that with déjà-vu, déjà-heard, déjà-worn. These are my four cardinal points.
What advice would you give to a talent wanting to emerge?
It’s too easy to say, “Don’t give up, follow your dreams”. But that would be really obvious and false. On the contrary, perhaps I would advise some very harsh, very aware self-analysis before starting this job, which in the end is creating a wardrobe for society, for the times in which we live. Therefore, no advice, just a recommendation: never copy, even if it is fair to have great masters. You can pay tribute to them by reproducing their ‘method’, never their clothes.