Only in Italy can you find young designers so fixated on fabric — because handcraft is still alive for experimental forays in threads and cloth
Gabrielle Colangelo: the touch of human hands
Up the scarlet carpeted stairs at the Palazzo Visconti we went, past a gilded carriage and into a room with a domed ceiling, smothered with baroque frescoes, stucco and decoration. By the time I reached the small backstage area where Gabriele Colangelo was prepping his show, I was drunk on Italian artistry.
But the first piece I saw was not some elaborate, overwrought and highly decorated creation of a designer for whom too much is never enough. The opposite was true: Gabriele had based his collection on a theme of “decomposition”, using handwork to reduce fabric to strips and re-assemble them by hand. So the final effect was of a gentle streamlining.
“I usually start with a vision — an artistic reference — and then I go to my suppliers and show them my idea,” said Gabriele. “This season it is a contemporary artist called Dianna Molzen. She takes off one vertical and one horizontal thread so they fall down. I try to express this feeling.”
In the show, the silhouettes were long and lean and the outfits apparently simple. But on closer inspection, a dress, cut away on one side to reveal narrow trousers, was a marvel of lace compressed to silhouette the body; while a black tunic was made up of strips, as one would find in a car wash, woven into a wearable top. The same craft was used for a sleek blue top with a pieced-together skirt.
This concept of intense craftsmanship creating wearable clothes was a master class from Colangelo, delivered via a streamlined wardrobe of clothes touched by human hands.
Marco de Vincenzo: for the material girl
Fringes, pleats, ruching and flouncing are the basis of Marco de Vincenzo's work and he laid out his look from the start: a black chiffon dress covered with fringes of white silk. That opened the sewing box for threads of spidery white feathers decorating black or sunny yellow outfits.
The designer said that he was inspired by a postcard of the Riviera in the 1950s — hence a beach-scape printed around the hem of a sleeveless coat and, for a nocturnal version, a bird flying across a skirt above a wave made with fringing.
However happy the holiday, these elaborate decorations on simple, sporty clothes seemed out of synch. Remove these creations from the beach — but perhaps not the transparent chiffon shirt with built-in black bra — and there was some magnificent workmanship. But horses for courses, or, in this case, a simple question: who would wear such sumptuous, beautifully made outfits to the beach?