“Identity, sensibility, culture and imagination.” This is how Simonetta Gianfelici starts her answer to our question about the meaning of talent in the fashion system. Four indispensable characteristics that interpret the contemporary concept of creativity, according to a woman who has turned eclecticism, great experience and intuition into the cornerstone of her work.
Internationally famous top model, the muse of maestros like Valentino and Thierry Mugler, actress and Chevalier de l'Ordre des Art et Des Lettres, Gianfelici has for a while now been a fashion and talent scout, through competitions and research projects and a number of initiatives that promote ethical, sustainable fashion, like Ethical Fashion, promoted by the UN agency International Trade Centre (ITC) for cooperation between artisans from different nations in western Africa with famous luxury brands.
Since 2005 Simonetta Gianfelici has been scouting manager for Altaroma for the Who Is On Next? competition, in collaboration with Vogue Italia and since 2009, together with Pitti Immagine, in the search for new talents in male fashion.
Simonetta, what is the meaning of “talent” today in the fashion system? How do you manage to evaluate the creative potential of a designer?
Identity, sensibility, culture and imagination. These are the core aspects of my search. But so are ethical sense and recuperating artisanship. Other no less important aspects are innovative communication and sales strategies, after the advent of social networks and e-commerce. In other words, a contemporaneity that considers the past but with a careful eye on the future.
How important is risking investment into youngsters today for a business on the fashion scene (company, magazine....)?
I would say it is decisive. Investing in the future calls for debate, dialogue, daring and farsightedness. We have managed to build an important story and earn ourselves an important place in fashion and the world. It would be a mistake to consider the past as a weight dragging us down. If anything, we should be stimulated by the idea that we can forge a no less determining path.
We often talk about London, Paris and New York, but what value does Italy add in creating and supporting fashion talents?
Institutions like Pitti and Altaroma are investing heavily into the search for young talents and following through their commitment by offering spaces and tangible opportunities, also through prominent partners like Vogue Italia and Uomo Vogue. They involve international buyers and, above all, reiterate their long-term intentions, putting work by youngsters centre-stage. In brief, they are investing where profit is still intangible. But another considerable aspect is also that of giving back, in this way, drive to our manufacturing industry, to the excellence of a production Made in Italy that is surviving despite the logics of the mass market, restoring identity and quality to our goods.
How much important do you think a competition like "Who Is On Next?" has on an international level?
A lot I would say. Suffice to look at the presence of our designers on calendars, their visibility in the international press, the increase in sales points and distribution, after participation in Who is on next?, and the attention that big multinationals specialising in fashion and luxury products offer them.
Who is on next?, Pitti Italics, The Latest Fashion Buzz ... How do you see the role of Pitti in promotion of the creative fashion talents? Can we speak of a community that rotates around Florence?
The quality of proposals, constant attention to all that is new, worldwide scouting, the creativity of the events organised, the presence of an expert international public and involvement of the whole city that Pitti manages to pull off season after season definitely makes this fashion week one of the most exciting and appealing on the international fashion scene.
What suggestions would you make for the next candidates in the competition? And the finalists who will soon be presenting their collection at the trunk show?
Be yourselves. Have fun and seize opportunities with enthusiasm. Elegance is also gratitude.