09 Jun 2015

Art and fashion talk “The power of passion and patience”. Interview with Arthur Arbesser

Fashion / Design by Sara Pizzi

Being a designer is like being a writer. It is not just a matter of having the indispensable creative ability and inherent artistic skills – it is also fundamental that you have something to say. It is telling a story day after day, whether through a collection or in the pages of a novel, with the decisive slant of someone who knows the career they have chosen is difficult, yet the only they want to pursue. The only one that makes their heart beat. 

Fashion, like writing, or art in general, is a passion. It all revolves around this. And around patience, knowing how to wait and a desire for self-improvement. Around choosing your personal path. When you write about an emerging designer, very often you find yourself caught up in his or her story, you find similarities with your life and relate to theirs. But not always that lucidity and clarity that are fundamental in this profession. It is difficult to find someone like Arthur Arbesser, able to combine a solid desire, ideas and objectives with continually evolving creativity. Discipline and flair. Style and formality. His work is passion and patience and he likes to underline this fact.
We met him a few days before the start of Pitti Uomo and his participation as Pitti Italics (the programme through which the Pitti Discovery Foundation promotes and supports the new generations of the most interesting fashion designers who design and produce in Italy, -Ed.). This is what he told us.
I read that your experience with Armani was one of your biggest learning curves… What was the greatest lesson you learnt working alongside Giorgio Armani? How did this change your perspectives and the way you work?

Working at Armani taught me that in fashion everything is based on human and social relationships. A never-ending exchange of ideas. It is such a huge company that it is almost inevitable that your hone all your social skills, collaborating and relating with colleagues and suppliers. From Giorgio Armani I learnt what creating a structured collection means, what it must have and how to realise what is superfluous. I learnt to know and love fabrics, the raw material and its quality. And without doubt the biggest lesson was learning that if something bears your name you must check it down to the smallest detail. Every single item that leaves your company. I was absolutely amazed by the painstaking care with which he, at his level, still controlled everything personally.

When did you realise you wanted to be a designer? And what do you like most about your work?

At the age of 13 I already knew that this was what I wanted to do in life. I have always been greatly fascinated by the world of fashion and I wanted to go to Saint Martins. At that time, my parents were not very keen on the idea, like anyone they imagined for us children a career as a lawyer, but then they realised that this was a true passion of mine. And passion is the only thing that urges you to find the force you need within yourself, able to overcome obstacles that would otherwise be unsurmountable. What do I love about my work? I would say everything. But if I had to choose, I definitely adore the initial stage of creating a collection. The embryonic phase, when it is all in my head, and I carry out a sort of synthesis between all the sources of inspiration and the ideas, looking for a single theme. It is then that shapes, colours, music appear before my eyes and I imagine the models walking down the runway. Even when the first models come back from production it is very exciting. 

What are you expecting from your participation in Pitti Uomo 88 as Pitti Italics?

I have always had a very clear idea in my head of what Pitti Uomo represented. And when I was contacted by the Pitti team, I was very happy and honoured. Because I know that behind the choices at Pitti there is a huge amount of serious scouting. No guest, no participation is ever by chance; it is always the result of painstaking research. It is a wonderful opportunity for me. It means that my professional career is developing as it should and I am doing good work. And then the freedom I have been assigned for the creation of my event and presentation of the collection is a very important factor.

Tell us about the collection you will be taking to Florence... how would you describe your style? And what are your greatest sources of inspiration?

It will be a real runway show, to break up the series of presentations that have so far characterised my work in Milan. At Pitti I will be showcasing a collection that I could call almost unisex, womenswear with masculine incursions. And this is a first for me. The colour – also going with the theme of the show, That’s Pitticolor! – and the prints will be the key elements. And, as usual, there will be plenty of references to the world of art. A project that is a fusion of inspiration, such as seventies ceramics by Bitossi, and references to my artistic heroes, like Ettore Sottsass.

There is no doubt you have skill and talent, but what does it mean today to be an emerging talent? What expectations and responsibilities does all this bring?

Fashion gives us the opportunity to tell a story. I have always seen this as a private path, an expression of your personality more than a question of business. Even if, obviously, I am aware that the commercial side of things is fundamental. My creations translate memories, conversations, meetings, people, and music and even the stories of certain artists who have struck me more with their life than their works. It is obviously a very personal path, but today there are too many points of view, too many visions and if you do not reveal your world, you have no way of standing out.

What has been your most important milestone? And which, on the other hand, are your future objectives?

I deem myself to be very lucky to have what I have and to have been brave enough to step up to the plate with my company. Being self-financed has been fundamental for my growth. A great sacrifice, I admit, but this has given me the chance and the right spirit to succeed. When you are called upon to make great sacrifices, you become very creative, you collaborate with your friends, you find ways to creatively overcome any obstacle. And this, at the beginning of a career, is very useful. The most important today is to have your own identity, something to say and not to spend too much time thinking about numbers! First you need to establish and make people understand who you are, even if some of your creations will not be suitable for wearing by the masses. You need to have a strong character, but never be selfish or be in a hurry. For the future I hope to continue doing what I have always done, step by step, at a human pace, every season achieving a greater goal. I would like to sell my creations, selecting retailers and finding places that represent me and understand me. And, should it happen, a good consultancy service...