Art and fashion talk Talent as a discipline. Interview with Maria Luisa Frisa

Fashion / Design by Sara Pizzi

Fashion curator, editor, Head of the Degree Course in Fashion at the IUAV University in Venice and Treviso, we can say that you are the perfect incarnation of the very concept of the great culture of costume, with an important role in the Italian fashion system.

We met here and we talked about talent, the future of Italian fashion and not only, inspired by the succes of the exhbition "The Glamour of Italian Fashion" at the V&A Museum in London. 

What do you think makes Italian fashion unique and glamorous?
Italian fashion is unique because of the extraordinary qualities that it has managed to bring to a head by uniting the talent of creative minds and designers with the inventive bursts that characterise our industrial fabric. I don’t think I would call it glamorous. I would rather use the word virtuous in its ability to combine innovative visions with industrial precision.

We often talk about talent, but what does being talented in fashion today mean for you?
Flexible, able to capture weak signals, willing to work in a team, taking on roles that may even be very different. Talent as a discipline.
What do you think should be done to gain greater recognition for Italian excellence? Do you think that our fashion system offers enough support for our talents?
I think that the Italian institutions linked to fashion tend to be non-existent, as promoting a talent does not mean making him or her to win a competition, it means guaranteeing him or her the possibility to produce their project and market it. Or at least insert them properly into a style office, in an environment that allows them to put their knowledge into practice.

The exhibition at the V&A tells the long story of ‘Made in Italy’, from after the war and the Sala Bianca period through to the 2000s; a tale studded with successes, economic crises, icons, designers and ‘invasions’ by foreign markets. What will be the future of Italian fashion? Do you think that there is still a lot we can learn from the style and craftsmanship of the ‘Bel Paese’?
The future of Italian fashion is in the hands of our universities, those that are educating the designers and visionaries of tomorrow. Universities that have to increasingly look for the complicity of Italian businesses and labels, which very often prefer to look abroad instead of investing here in Italy. Our future is our responsibility. The cultural policies needed are those that we of academia must strategically decide to put in place, personally.
When you set up the Degree Course in Fashion, what were the main objectives? How do you manage to compete with international universities? 
We want to train up designers able to dialogue with today’s visual culture and with new production landscapes in global production and communication. Competition from international universities is something we prefer to treat as cooperation and exchange. Between professors, students, projects and ideas.
How do you think that the Italian fashion scene is seen on an international level?
Undergoing restructuring. Italians cover creative management roles with the most important international labels. The talent is there. Italy needs to rethink itself as a creative laboratory, not just with regards to fashion.