Federico D'Angelo's Cinematic Opera

By Georgia Gifford

Deux sub-editor Georgia Gifford sits down with the Italian-Danish Maestro Federico D'Angelo.

- When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer?

I was born in Milan as the grandson of a tailor specializing in fur.  I still distinctly remember playing in her studio between the mannequins and going around picking up trims of fur and silk lining laying around wondering about what could be made out of them. So I guess I was exposed to and surrounded by fashion since a young age, and that undoubtedly created an subconscious if not underlying interest towards fashion design and the making of fashion. I grew up in Milan in the 1990s’, when designers like Gianfranco Ferre’, Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani become immensely popular for their innovative and creative design work, and it was at that point that I realized I wanted to be a Fashion designer.

- You have a long family history in fashion design, how much does this influence your designs?

My designs are often described as structured with a focus on details, and often references are made to my academic training in Architecture as a possible influence, but I would say that spending time at a young age in a tailors studio, and witnessing how patterns are cut and different materials are sawn together equally influenced me, as it created awareness. And eventually this awareness developed into a professional curiosity, or an interest in the making of Fashion that is directly visible in my creations.

- What inspires you as a designer? Do you have a muse or a typical ‘Federico D’Angelo’ woman?

In an age of profound socio-economic transformation my fashion does not limit itself to being a display focusing on mere aestheticism, but rather act as a generator of ideas, and creates a forum instigating and provoking discussions on wider global themes that are relevant to society. In that sense society and its dynamics interest and inspire me. At the beginning of every collection we develop a strong cinematic concept based on global converging themes and that concept is carried through to the show. If you for example look at my AW16-17 runway show you will see the themes of inequality, a polarised world, and a struggle for supremacy cinematically expressed in an open conflict between two different groups. It’s about minorities and oppression as much as tailored and structured silhouettes.

The D’Angelo woman is critical, opinionated, appreciates quality and handcraft and, foremost, wants to project her confident personality and strong attitude through my designs., so I tend not to focus on a single type of woman but rather create to empower all women, as I believe that every woman is a D’Angelo woman.

- Describe your personal style, do your designs reflect this?

My designs and the D’Angelo woman are about critical expression and empowerment. They are a clear reflection of my personality and the strong women that influenced my early life, rather than my personal style, which by contrast, is often reduced to a uniform-like combination of denim and elegant white shirt, accompanied by a nice leather accessory. The focus is on the D’Angelo woman.

- What is the most challenging thing about being a designer in 2016?

Keeping the focus on quality and design in a world that for the last fifteen years seem to focus too much on speed and not on quality and craftsmanship.

- How do you stay ahead of the competition in the constantly changing and increasingly competitive fashion industry?

By immersing myself and my team in a continuous process of self-development, and by allowing myself to explore my imagination.

- Technology in fashion is a significant talking point in the fashion industry at the moment, what is your opinion on innovations like 3D printing and sustainable textiles?

Innovation through technological advance has always been important for an industry that relies on novelty to constantly provide excitement. As a designer I embrace advance in manufacturing processes inasmuch it provides me with new tools to create, and adds means of expression to my design vocabulary, but I respect that my collections have an emotional content and are based on a concept, and the vision must take precedence, otherwise you risk to create sterile work with no emotional content and no relevance to your audience. And that is when technology risks to become an end in itself and lose its meaning.

- What is your take on the importance of quality and craftsmanship in today’s 'fast fashion’ climate?

In the last few years consumers have learnt a great deal about the impact of fast fashion on societies and global resources and this is starting to shape their choices. The climate is changing as part of the public is developing more awareness and is now becoming more interested in investing in designs they can relate to on more levels than just aesthetics. I promote an idea of fashion based on quality and craftsmanship because I think that giving importance to them is key to sustainable economic development and the preservation of artisanal know-how and cultural identity.

- What is one piece of advice you would give a young designer looking to break into the industry?

There is no magic formula, but remember that being a designer is a continuous process of self-development and exploration, and that developing an understanding of how you can be relevant and contribute with your talent and skills to the larger discourse that is taking place in the Fashion world around you is key o find your place in the Fashion system.

- What are you most excited about for future of the fashion industry and what are your plans for the Federico D’Angelo brand?

I think it would be exciting for the Fashion system to realize it has a unique position and the ability to observe, capture, appropriate processes and generate ideas in a way that makes society foster critical thinking. Federico D’Angelo does exactly that, and that in itself is going to be a source of tremendous novelty and excitement for the brand in the years to come.