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Insider: Ilaria Nistri

Hong Kong blurs Italian fashion in a sci-fi vortex for Ilaria Nistri's photographic project

Designer Ilaria Nistri admits there are no immediate similarities between Italian and oriental fashion. Yet in the Italian brand’s photographic project, shot in Hong Kong by Monika Bielskyte for the Ilaria Nistri AW14 campaign, refined cut and luxurious pairings of silk and fur imitate the form of their sartorial surroundings: funnel necks, shrunken sleeves, and kimono wrap. Lit by the synthetic city light, the Ilaria Nistri pieces are locked in a sci fi vortex, eerily tranquil. Ilaria Nistri cites the modern oriental shift between reality and science fiction, past and present, as a constant inspiration.

Dazed Digital: What were your initial impressions of Hong Kong?

Ilaria Nistri: Chaos. Alienating streams of people in motion. Millions of lights surrounded by fog. I first visited Hong Kong in 2007, and my initial impression was that it was extremely modern, almost in an uncontrolled, unconstrained way. I find tranquility in the hills that overlook the city, where nature is imposing.

DD: How have you fused Oriental and Italian fashion here?

Ilaria Nistri: It was not an entirely conscious thing, that is, it was not a borrowing or revival of any specific style, but a constant attraction. One of my collections was once inspired entirely by kimonos. The kimono for me is the perfect garment: minimal, essential, abstract, pure – so pure it remains suspended between masculine and feminine.

DD: What inspires you about Hong Kong?

Ilaria Nistri: The continuous interplay of references, between the past and the future, reality and science fiction: a shifting between a past which is still so recent, and a future which is already so forcibly asserted. This enchants me; the quest for balance between such distant and apparently incompatible elements.

DD: Are you inspired by science fiction?

Ilaria Nistri: Hong Kong, and its continual transformation, is strongly connected to science fiction imagery. Like Blade Runner: the Hong Kong of 1982 inspired the Los Angeles of 2019 for the film, a ‘concrete extension’ of Philip K. Dick’s vision.

DD: What mood have you created in these images?

Ilaria Nistri: The atmosphere is rare and sensual. It echoes Wong Kar-Wai’s film, In the Mood For Love. The women in the images embody this concept of delicacy, suspended in a subtle weft of light and shade. It’s a gesture enveloped in the notes of “Yumeji’s Theme”, the first song on the soundtrack of In the Mood For Love, and the title of this photographic project.

DD: Where does Hong Kong lie in your future?

Ilaria Nistri: This city, with its logic of contrast and change, will always be a source of inspiration.