My trip to Milan this season – Spring/Summer 2017 was indeed one of a kind. Although I hadn’t attended mainstream shows much an amazing opportunity came my way where I was selected to be a UK delegate on the programme It’s Time To South – a fashion showcase of emerging designers from Southern Italy: Calabria, Campania, Apulia, and Sicily. It’s Time To South is in its second edition having developed from the partnership between contemporary fashion trade show WHITE via Tortona and ICE Agency. The latter helps to promote upcoming Italian designers internationally.
From the 24th to 26th September 2016 the WHITE Lounge hosted 12 brands ranging from clothing to accessories produced in Italy and I had the pleasure of interviewing each designer about their emerging brand. Having received a personal guide through each collection and provided with an informative insight into the creative vision from which each brand was born increased my awareness of unrecognised worldwide talent that simply needs the right supportive platform to be seen and heard.
Prior to the initial day of interviews, I settled into NHOW hotel where delegates stayed as part of the sponsored program. This hotel was a perfect choice; situated rather conveniently next to the WHITE trade show. It’s Time To South kicked off with a launch event during the evening in association with JINNNN and WHITE at their Superstudio.
On the morning of the official opening of WHITE trade show, I met the creative innovators behind the brand JADISE – www.jadise.it Their stand of colourful leather bags caught my eye initially. I think the entire world knows that Italy is the go-to destination for high-quality leather. Art is the key player in the JADISE collection which is evident in the brand’s use of vibrant prints. In fact, the current collection showcases a range of bags embellished with prints by three contemporary artists Favaloro, Sirelli and Collura; an idea initiated by designer Massimiliano D’Angelo of the JADISE brand. I enjoyed talking to Emilio Lombardo, PR director of JADISE who describes the collection as dynamic and for the “woman who loves something special” I couldn’t agree more as the collection is bold and beautiful in design suitable for the assertive woman with an unapologetic sense of style. One of my favourite brands from the exhibition, I can see these bags selling like hot cakes in Matches or Leggera Nell’Aria in London.
For those of us who love classic literature will also appreciate the work of Marseglia Italo – the designer who has named his clothing brand after himself Italo Marseglia. His current spring/summer collection “Melymbrosia” also the name of Virgina Woolf’s first novel consists of strongly structured garments with an impeccable finish having been inspired by the depiction of traditional landscapes in the countryside of England in the novel. I noticed a strong colour palette showcasing hues of green, sunshine yellow and sky blue. I found the collection relatively symbolic with strong references to the era of modernism rooted in English tradition hence the unconventional approach Marseglia adopts towards his collection. In an uninformed way, he applies mathematical theories and logic to his creative process where his passion “finds shape in structured and perfectly tailored garments” Further to this, Marseglia says his work reflects a “dream-like journey in space and time in England” resembling his own journey in life. The signature style of Melymbrosia is the travel jacket which comes with a neat travel bag along with a gentle mix of feminine fabrics complimenting other fabrics more suited to masculinity such as chantilly lace and “tela vela” cotton or multicoloured tweed and laminated “pelleovo”
Next in my line-up of interviews was with Rocco Adriano Galluccio – the designer of Alcoolique. I found Adriano charismatic in addition to being very open as to how his brand came about. According to Adriano “after a series of fun nights with friends I was inspired to create my own collection” As the name of his collection suggests, the positive effects of alcohol came into play during his time with friends i.e. lighthearted fun and banter which led to an ingenious idea on the spur of the moment equivalent to the light-bulb effect of accomplishing a unique idea during a brainstorming session. Alcoolique fashion was founded in 2011 appealing to the Neapolitan sartorial craftsmanship which compliments contemporary fashion. I felt this brand in particular would do well in London as it has a bohemian twist encompassing femininity and a somewhat carefree innocence. As Adriano says “I like a woman to dress like a woman” meaning a woman should not forget her innate feminine qualities even if she prefers to dress more masculine at times. Most of the fabrics Adriano sources are from Italy, France and Belgium hence why each garment is of high quality with an extremely clean finish.
As I glanced over to another area in the It’s Time To South exhibition space, the letters NHVR caught my eye! Eager to learn more, I introduced myself to Giuseppe Turco brand manager of the NHVR collection. Thinking each letter stood for something, I learned that NHVR is short for Nhivuru meaning black. Giuseppe passionately revealed the latter term as a reflection of the soul of Sicilian culture – “black like Lava, Etna, and Magma from the bottom of a volcano” generating a powerful energy. With this in mind, the collection being eclectic in nature, is a good fit for someone who plays with fashion, different styles or colours energetically as a form of self-expression. The NHVR collection has a strong Asian/Japanese following with a sense of street style to it that oozes a vibe of effortless cool. Overall “NHVR is influenced by a mix of cultures” says Giuseppe. Fabrics used to formulate the collection are sourced in Italy and New York. I can see this collection fitting in well with other brands stocked in Dover Street Market or Wolf and Badger, London.
I met the lovely Maria Teresa Calogiuri, the designer of Sucrette who presented me with a beautiful range of beach couture garments. At the core of the brand remains a touch of Puglia with signature colours of white, yellow and blue representing hot summers of Southern Italy, white stone farm houses, sunny vineyards, and crystal clear blue seas. Maria shared her passion for ballet and was once a ballerina which is why she wanted to produce a collection of clothing sourced in Italy and made from soft jersey which feels comfortable to move around in. Freedom of movement is imperative to any dancer so it’s no wonder Sucrette is simplistic in design focusing their attention on using high-quality and durable fabrics. Ultimately, the collection represents a reacquaintance with the emotion of feeling at ease with oneself while looking stylish without the need to succumb to fashion conformity. There is a touch of 70s glamour in the collection showcasing shiny fabrics which glitter beautifully in the light. Sucrette is 100% made in Italy.
There is nothing like a classic, statement handbag hence why I could not wait to interview designer Barbara Benzi from B.Ben.Bags. Barbara used to be an architect so her appetite for producing a handbag collection stemmed from her architectural background. I noticed each bag is well structured. She also offers a bespoke service whereby you can select your colour preferences and the leather composition resulting in the production of your very own custom-made handbag. Everybody likes exclusivity which this brand offers. Barabara’s bags range from £260-£400 which is an affordable price point for a high-quality bag that is timeless in style. I noticed signature colours of red, navy blue and beige within the collection that tend to compliment any outfit choice. I believe this brand would do very well in John Lewis or House of Fraser in London as it suits the sophisticated lady who is the epitome of “less meaning more”
Stay tuned for It’s Time to South Part 2 featuring more designers from Southern Italy!