Tra natura e artificio

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Un articolo che ho scritto per #MClikes, in edicola con Marie Claire di ottobre 2016

PROVIAMO A IMMAGINARE un mondo in cui la natura si contrappone al progresso tecnologico, un tempo nel quale il partito della plastica va in direzione opposta rispetto a chi vuole solo materiali natural-eco-bio, una fase che vede da una parte chi vuole un progresso fantascientifico e dall’altra gli amanti del “si stava meglio quando si stava peggio”. Stiamo ovviamente parlando degli anni 60, quando PACO RABANNE sorprendeva con abiti fatti di dischi di acetato e alluminio e Joe Colombo arredava le case con mobili di plastica bianca. Gli stessi anni in cui i figli dei fiori volevano solo fiori di campo e non fiori usciti da uno stampo, pensavano solo a fare l’amore, possibilmente dopo essersi sfilati larghi abiti di cotone, scarpe di canapa e cappelli di paglia. La storia si ripete, ma non torna mai uguale a se stessa. Anche oggi nutriamo fiducia nel futuro tecnologico, ma ne temiamo le conseguenze e calibriamo le nostre scelte con cibi biologici e auto ecologiche. Forse stiamo diventando tutti animisti, come i giapponesi, e stiamo iniziando a percepire che dentro tutte le cose c’è una piccola parte vivente, un’anima che esprime la natura stessa di quello che tocchiamo. E non importa se sia fatto dall’uomo o da Madre Natura, se sia artificiale o naturale: la vita dei materiali è diventata un argomento via via più interessante.

Oggi la materia delle cose diventa ricca di storie da scoprire e da raccontare, a partire dal cibo per arrivare agli oggetti di design e di moda. Non è solo una questione di salute, intolleranze o allergie, ma di conoscenza e rassicurazione. In Italia il mercato del cibo biologico cresce senza sosta, ma possiamo anche trovare facilmente capi in cotone bio, persino da ZARA e H&M. Il legno FSC (quello raccolto senza danneggiare le foreste) è ormai alla base di moltissimi progetti di design di qualità, dai mobili ai pavimenti in parquet. Abbiamo fatto tanti passi avanti dai tempi della canapa grezza e ruvida dei frequentatori dell’isola di Wight: oggi buono e bello vanno a braccetto, e sarà sempre più vero nei materiali del futuro. Il cortocircuito tra cibo bio e moda bio porta nuova consapevolezza, ma crea anche qualche situazione al limite del surreale. Come per esempio quando si va da Stella McCartney e si scopre che le sue scarpe sono «per vegetariani». Vuol dire che ce le possiamo mangiare anche nei venerdì di quaresima? Ovviamente no, ma possiamo stare certi che nessun animale è stato toccato per la loro realizzazione. Stella sarà sicuramente felice se MODERN MEADOW riuscirà nell’intento di mettere in produzione i suoi pellami coltivati in laboratorio. Infatti la start up inglese sta sviluppando molti materiali ecologici partendo da cellule bovine e ovine. La somiglianza con la pelle reale è impressionante e sono arrivati addirittura ad avere un’innovativa pelle trasparente. La soia fermentata è considerata un superfood, ma al MIT DI BOSTON sono riusciti a trasformarla in un alleato per il design. BIOLOGIC è un processo di stampa 3D che consente ai tessuti di diventare vivi. I batteri derivati dalla fermentazione della soia sono sensibili a calore e umidità e possono reagire di conseguenza. Con una speciale stampante, sottili strisce di batteri vengono depositate su lamelle di tessuto, che si possono così aprire quando il nostro corpo è caldo o chiudere quando è freddo. Ed ecco che l’abbigliamento diventa tecnologico e biologico allo stesso tempo, grazie a bio-trigger che funzionano con la rapidità e l’efficacia di un microchip. O di un Bifidus Regularis.

La vita degli oggetti non è fatta solo di materiali, ma anche di idee, di hardware e software. GOOGLE è forse l’azienda più immateriale al mondo, ma sperimenta parecchio con la dimensione fisica. Il progetto “Jacquard”, sviluppato con LEVI’S, è da togliere il fiato: i tessuti più classici sono integrati con fili sensibili e invisibili, che in sostanza trasformano ogni superficie tessile in un touch screen. Le applicazioni sono varie: dal bracciolo del divano che diventa un telecomando al polsino della camicia che toccheremo per aprire la porta di casa. Basta solo immaginare. Vita, morte, ma anche miracoli. Miracoli laici, per carità, quelli della scienza e della tecnologia, che oggi ci indicano abitudini che con tutta probabilità avremo in futuro. Molto spesso è una questione di contesto, di materiali che esistono già, che vengono perfezionati, e messi in un posto che mai ci saremmo aspettati. Quando abbiamo avuto per le mani i primi dispositivi mobili (pc portatili, ma anche databank, scacciapensieri e Tamagotchi vari) ci saremmo immaginati un futuro fatto solo di plastica e un po’ di metallo. Nella sua autobiografia, Steve Jobs racconta che senza lo schermo in vetro l’iPhone non sarebbe mai nato. Pensiamoci: portiamo in tasca un grosso pezzo di vetro. Pericoloso? No, perché non è vetro comune, ma un vetro reinventato e ipertecnologico. Chi immagina gli aggeggi mobili di domani prefigura la scomparsa dei materiali di contorno, a favore di un semplice rettangolone di vetro robustissimo e flessibile, sul quale comparirà per magia tutto il nostro mondo digitale. E dove potremo magari scaricare il file per stampare le nostre scarpe. UNITED NUDE vende sul suo sito non solo scarpe fatte e finite, ma anche i file per le “Float Shoes”, da acquistare proprio come facciamo per musica e film. Serve poi una stampante 3D per trasformarli in oggetti indossabili.

Non si tratta di un fenomeno di massa, ma se torniamo per un attimo in Giappone vedremo che le utopie tecnovisionarie sono spesso già parte della vita quotidiana. Andiamo per esempio a osservare i materiali che usa UNIQLO, il gigante del retail che ha recentemente dichiarato di voler diventare il più grande produttore di abbigliamento al mondo. E ci vuole arrivare unendo moda e tecnologia. Infatti le sue linee di maggior successo sono fatte di colori vivaci, capi semplici da indossare, ma anche di materiali hi-tech e performanti, come i capi “AIRism” e “HeatTech”, freschissimi per l’estate e caldissimi per l’inverno. Non hanno bisogno di manutenzione particolare e possono essere sbattuti in lavatrice. Ma sta già accadendo ben altro. La luce negli abiti e negli oggetti è ormai una realtà, soprattutto grazie all’evoluzione della tecnologia a led. Abbiamo visto sulla passerella di VERSACE aitanti runner in abiti luminescenti con fibre ottiche. Non è difficile immaginare che tra un po’ tutti gli appassionati di running indosseranno abiti e accessori dotati di luce propria, per rendersi più visibili (autisti e ciclisti urbani sanno essere pericolosi) ma anche per farsi notare (lo stile prima di tutto, anche nello sport). Se gli adolescenti italiani sono già impazziti per le suole psichedeliche delle scarpe WIZE & OPE, NIKE ha annunciato la messa in commercio delle HYPERADAPT, scarpe da running con luci segnaletiche che si allacciano da sole, proprio come quelle di Marty McFly in Ritorno al futuro. Sempre parlando di scarpe, ma passando ai prototipi, vale la pena di citare le VIXOLE SHOES. Sneakers dal design contemporaneo e pulito, le Vixole sono dotate di un monitor fatto di microscopici led e possono cambiar pelle, come un tecnocamaleonte. Si può cambiare il colore, ma anche trasmettere immagini, persino video. Che ovviamente si possono collegare anche con le notifiche di POKÉMON GO, per vedere – letteralmente – i mostriciattoli nei dintorni e prenderli. Realtà virtuale? Realtà aumentata? Forse, ma quello che sicuramente troveremo nel futuro saranno materiali a sensibilità aumentata, piacevoli per il corpo e la mente.

Annunci

Pal Zileri and the Future of Tailoring

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My latest article for Cool Hunting.

What is the difference between tailored and factory menswear? Often we consider these two categories as distant or even conflicting. However, there are many who actually know how to combine these both, companies that use industrial processes to achieve quality products, in which the experience of the hand and the precision of the machine operate on the same wavelength. This is what happens at Pal Zileri, a historic Italian menswear brand.

At Quinto Vicentino, in north-east of Italy, the Forall Confezioni factory was founded in 1970 by Gianfranco Barizza and Aronne Miola. Here, the Pal Zileri collection was launched in 1980 and since it has targeted the contemporary man, in love with sartorial tradition and modern lifestyle. During a recent factory visit, we witnessed the production process of men’s formal suits, and in particular of jackets. Here, hundreds of skilled artisans make clothes, for which quality is the ultimate obsession. Each jacket is made in 140 to 180 single step, which include cutting, assembling, sewing, ironing, adding linings, pockets and shoulders, but also spare parts such as buttons, zippers and labels. The front part of the jacket dictates the entire process and the amount of hidden details is impressive. Most phases are industrially executed using laser cutting, sewing machines, presses, conveyor belts; nevertheless, some steps are still completely handmade, like in an old tailor workshop.

Since July 2014, Mauro Ravizza Krieger has been the artistic director at Pal Zileri. After plentiful experience with many prestigious national and international menswear brands, Ravizza Krieger is now successfully working on the next chapters of the brand. Pal Ziler has a very long tradition of formal menswear. A few years ago new investors joined the company. Qatar-based Mayhoola for Investments (also owner of Valentino) and Arafa for Investments and Consultancies from Egypt, helped define this new course for Pal Zileri. Ravizza Krieger plays a very important role in this delicate passage.

“First of all, I tried to understand how the company works. The concept of creativity is far more difficult to apply to an industry. We are making a path of transformation from an industry to a brand, fostering a closer bond with the creative process,” Ravizza Krieger explains to CH. Today men’s tailoring is undergoing a renaissance, but it is necessary to update its codes and logistics. As Ravizza Krieger says, “It is important to rekindle an interest in the world of tailoring, without distorting its canons, evolving them without revolutionizing, focusing on the contemporary world, on updates that do not lose the previous values of the company.”

Vicenza, where the factory is located, is a land of art and excellent crafts, characterized by the magnificent architecture of Andrea Palladio and a centenary tradition of jewelry and fine leather-making. And Ravizza Krieger loves to find his inspirations in arts. “My references are very tied to the art world. Our previous collection was inspired by Joseph Albers, who has spent his life calibrating colors on a square shape, something not banal,” he says. “His vibrations, his color combinations create always different moods. And when I work on an artistic period, I always try to bring it to the Italian references.”

As a matter of facts, at Pal Zileri they do not want to rely on a stereotypical vision of Italy, a postcard-like view of something that does not exist anymore. They focus on a less obvious Italy, like that of abstract, optical and kinetic art of the 20th Century. “Creativity should not be sought after at all costs and simply glued to a collection, it should be a thing that belongs to you in each step,” he continues. “For example the inspiration linked to kinetic and Italian optical art gave origin to a capsule collection with optical prints, as well as a variety of fabrics for the evening all in black and white. From abstract Italian art we originated the research on the color palette. The color range definition is an important step because it kicks off the creation of fabrics. In fact 80% of the fabrics that are seen in the catwalk and in the collection are exclusive.”

The evolutionary process of traditional men’s fashion has to be constant, organic and slow. “[We proceed] slowly, without exaggerating. We must not forget that we are in menswear, where there is also a deep need for culture. We do not want to create some weird things and force change. I focus on the contemporary tailoring, where I want to evolve established codes, until they become usable. The continuity of tailoring will only be guaranteed by a continuous updating of its historical values, through the easing of a number of values,” says Ravizza Krieger.

As the technicians explained the difference between the types of construction, we realized that they often used the term “sports jacket.” As many know (at least in the States), in the world of tailoring, the very concept of “sport” takes on many meanings, here being an inherently comfortable suit jacket for more casual events. “Formal classic style is struggling today,” Ravizza Krieger observes, “because the world is less formal, relationships are less formal. Social networks and mobility have made us more informal, so we need to give our clothes different connotations.”

Ravizza Krieger’s ideas are very clear on this contemporary balance of formal and informal. “I believe that the dream of many people is to have a profession that lets them free, where they can be themselves. [For this reason] I think a lot more about freelancers rather than managers, because they are self-determining. They dress themselves, it’s not us who dress them. I think of a style for non-homologated people, who know how to interpret clothes.”

Milan Design Week 2016: interview with Sou Fujimoto

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My latest article for Cool Hunting.

Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto (perhaps best-known for his Serpentine Gallery Pavilion) joined forces with Swedish fashion retailer COS for Salone de Mobileduring this year’s Milan Design Week 2016. The result is quite spectacular. The installation “Forest of Light” is a fascinating and immersive exploration of light and perspective. In a completely dark space, towering cones of light seem to respond magically to the presence of people in attendance. Sounds, mirrors and a subtle fog unite to create an imaginary forest which is nothing short of a feast for the senses. After spending time in the space, we met with Fujimoto and talked about how the installation was born, its meaning and the technology behind it.

“We were requested by COS to interpret the deep philosophy of the brand,” Fujimoto tells us. “We had to give the shape of an experience to that, to translate it into a space. That was, of course, a big challenge because we are architects and they are fashion. In a sense it all relates to our daily life—to human behavior and interactions. Both fashion and architecture are about sharing something, but at the same time they’re quite far, since materials are different, softness is different, heaviness is different.” In order to create a through-line between architecture and fashion, Fujimoto decided on light, “Light is essential for architecture and using light as a material is quite a beautiful challenge, I think. At the same time, a spotlight is a fashion thing. Light as a material is quite simple, but it helps us with creating an interesting complexity.”

After deciding on light as a material, the installation began to take form as a forest—thanks to Fujimoto’s memories and the city of Tokyo. He says, while it relates to his childhood self playing in a forest literally, the Japanese capital also has the sense of being one. He explains, “Tokyo is artificial, but the feeling is like a forest in a sense—an artificial forest, where you can feel really cozy, since you are surrounded by such small artificial pieces. Through that kind of thinking, of forest and light, we connected the elements and we created the experience.”

Technology, of course, is a key (albeit invisible) factor in the installation, as sensors placed around the space mean that visitors can change the installation in various ways. Depending on where one stands, the space gets lighter or darker; the more people present, the more changes. The same goes for the sounds: there is a constant soundtrack of real forest sounds, but when a sensor picks up movement in the space, “artificial sounds react together with the change of the brightness.” The outcome is enchanting, and because it changes constantly, entirely enthralling.

Fujimoto tells us, ultimately, the installation was intended to surprise and intrigue visitors. It was a subtle experience not overly tied to a brand, but rather was about creating a special experience. “We’ve tried to create an unexpected feeling,” he says. “You feel like your movement is causing something, but you do not precisely understand what it is.”

MIDO Eyewear Show

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My latest article for Cool Hunting.

While you might not have heard of it, Italy’s Mido Eyewear Show is the leading event for eyewear professionals. It’s an exhibition during which major international brands present their new styles and innovations for prescription specs and sunglasses—and, while it might sound like it’s purely for industry members, it’s fascinating for anybody interested in fashion and design.

The show saw some 1200 exhibitors last year—two-thirds of which were international. Mido president Cirillo Marcolin says of the 2016 event, “We’ve been working hard to renew the traditional concept of a trade fair. For this reason we have abandoned the classic idea of ‘trend area’ and we have created The Design Lab and More. The first focuses on niche brands and independent productions, while the second will be animated by seminars and conventions about the evolution of the markets.” Of the many designs and designers Marcolin is excited about, he tells us, “Recently we’ve discovered a young producer who uses old vinyls to make eyewear, and in Munich we have spotted spectacles made of real leather… It is not just about pure creativity and prototypes, since what you’ll see there are actual production pieces, maybe handcrafted, but ready for the market.”

Marcolin offered us a sneak preview of Mido, and there were many stand-outs worth mentioning. Of the most notable, Lapo Elkann’s Italia Independent will unveil the next designs to come of their collaboration with Adidas Originals. Color is the main event—with ’80s vibes and tropical patterns featuring heavily—while retro shapes match. Another favorite hailed from Boston Club, whose spectacles are completely made in Sabae, Japan, despite the misleading name. Their designs are vintage-tinged, yet their use of innovative materials (like Japanese acetate Takiron) and unexpected colorways keep them current.

“Storm,” the debut collection from the brand Gabe, is made up of wooden frames that boast a screw-less horn hinge the brand calls a “snap-joint”. There’s a delightful blend of natural materials and structural development at play here. As for Fakoshima, designed by Konstantin Shilyaev, their offerings are purely conceptual and utterly extreme. Their “Kabuki” collection reveals a theatrical edge—sunglasses become a mask. Influenced by art and avant-garde, Shilyaev will also unveil a collaboration with Indian-born fashion designer Manish Arora at Mido.

Finally, Movitra‘s mission is simple: to protect lenses from shocks and scratches. With this in mind, Filippo Pagliacci and his team have developed and patented a special system that allows the sunglasses’ arms to rotate and become a barrier for the lenses. Not only is it a logical yet innovative concept, the designs are ultimately wearable.

The 2016 Mido Eyewear Show is on this weekend, 27-29 February, at the Fiera Milano Convention Center, Strada Statale del Sempione 28, Milan.

Costume National FW 2016/2017

Costume National is synonym with black, New Wave, rock’n’roll darkness. Until now.

The show we saw a few days ago in was Milan truly a surprise. Despite  it felt undoubtedly “Costume”, this time around Ennio Capasa painted his dark canvas with sporadic touches of flashy colors like fire engine red, cobalt blue and chlorophyll green. Not to mention the artisanal “couture” touches, intricate embroidery as well as an elaborate use of studs.

Like in a rock show, the colors acted as spotlights, and spotlights make you discover something that was hidden, underlining once again the mysterious power of darkness.

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Paula Cademartori SS 2016

With the current SS collection Paula Cademartori is showing that she’s not just an “emerging designer” anymore, but a full grown-up creative and entrepreneurial mind.

Bags, shoes and small leather accessories are slowly and inexorably creating a real fashion world, ready to be expanded in several directions. Her vision is clear and her approach is that of an established brand.

It’s not anymore just about color and fun, but here we’re seeing style, class, elegance, irony, something pretty rare and unusual in the landscape of young fashion.

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Lucio Vanotti FW 2016/2017

“Detachment, introspection, distance” are the keywords of the new collection of Lucio Vanotti. And those are also the anti-keywords of the social media age, the perfect antonyms of “sharing, visibility, contact”.

Is this the antidote to the overexposure that fashion is experiencing these days? Probably this is what Giorgio Armani thought when he had to chose one young designer for his initiative in supporting young talents.

Vanotti’s collection is mature and down to earth, perfectly fine-tuned with the contemporary world but courageous and experimental when it comes to shapes, cuts and proportions. After the catwalk, many people in the theatre thought that Lucio would make a very good heir to the design legacy of Gorgeous Giorgio.

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