Mariacarla Boscono: Lose control

Our spring/summer cover star on nudity, insecurity and why there's nothing wrong with fighting for your difference

Fashion Feature
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Mariacarla wears sequin t-shirt and sequin leggings by stylist’s studio; sequin dress, nose rings, stud and earrings by Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci; plaid shirt and tartan kilt Photography by Willy Vanderperre, Styling by Panos Yiapanis

Taken from the spring/summer issue of Dazed:

Mariacarla Boscono is on the phone from her parents' home in Rome, mobile in one hand and her 18-month-old daughter in the other. “Say hi, Marialucas, say hi,” Boscono coos. It's past Marialucas's bedtime and Boscono is apologising that we might have to delay the interview a bit. “Unfortunately, I have a child who doesn't sleep,” she says with a little sigh. Half an hour later, Boscono's mum has offered to continue tucking in Givenchy's youngest ever campaign star so we can talk, and Boscono is waxing lyrical in her husky, soft Italian tones about Willy Vanderperre, Panos Yiapanis and shooting a Dazed cover dripping in BFF Riccardo Tisci's work. 

“I knew this was going to be a kickass story,” she says. “There's everything and everyone that I love in this cover and I love it so much that I want to have it printed, which is something I never ask for. The look – the black hair, the bleached eyebrows and the red lips with the very pale skin – goes deep inside who I am for some weird reason.” Any shoot with Givenchy is special for Boscono, who met Tisci in London at the age of 26. “We loved each other the moment we met. I ended up sleeping at his house and the next day he slept at my house and that was it, forever and ever and ever.”

With her otherworldly features, Boscono brings an immense and mesmerising presence to all her pictures. There are no cookie-cutter poses, only a strong sense of fearlessness. And yet she confesses to being painfully shy. That makes for a pretty paradoxical vocation, then? “I cover my shyness by being exactly the opposite. You know, really loud and very Italian. I am an extremely insecure and fragile person and only the people that really know me know that. But I push myself,” she says, adding that her theatre work and training at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in NYC have been part of this process. “Getting onstage was a big deal for me. But I really go for the results.”

“Growing up in Kenya, my nanny was from a tribe where she just wore a necklace and a pareo, and my mum was naked most of the time.”

She agrees there is an element of acting to her modelling. “I've always brought a lot of awareness on set. I mean, I'm not the most beautiful model in the industry but I am for sure one of the most 'fashion' creatures you can find! Bleaching my eyebrows or cutting my hair isn't a drama for me. I think that's why I have such longevity, because I really enjoy it!” Nudity has never been a problem either. “Growing up in Kenya, my nanny was from a tribe where she just wore a necklace and a pareo, and my mum was naked most of the time.” 

After living in the US, South Africa and Kenya (“Kenya was the most beautiful. I was there from nine to 14 and it really shaped me. That age for a little girl is very important”), the family returned to Rome, where Boscono went through a skinhead phase to emulate her school friends. “I remember my mum kept saying, 'Don't put yourself as a sheep with everybody in your group just because you want to look like them. There's nothing wrong with feeling different and fighting for your difference.' That really stuck in my head.” 

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Mariacarla wears chainmail jersey by Nikhil Rode, commissioned by stylist’s studio; embroidered print scarf (worn on shoulder) and embroidered print scarf  (worn as skirt) by stylist’s studio; embroidered denim dress by Balmain; stud by Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci

It is that difference that has helped keep Boscono at the top of her modelling game, and she continues to be a muse to Tisci, although she stresses that she is one of several. “But I find that a friendship has to be inspiring, so he’s my muse in a way, too. There’s never nothingness around us. There’s always a cool conversation.” Looking back on the early days of her modelling career, she says she felt like an outsider “all the time”. Does she still often feel that way? “Yeah, yeah, but if you have that feeling it’s quite exciting. If you’re too much in control you feel too secure in your shoes, and where’s the emotion to keep going in life? To keep that spark going you have to feel like an outsider.”

Hair Syd Hayes at Premier Hair & Makeup using L’Oreal Paris Studio Lint TXT Supersizing Spray; make-up Lynsey Alexander at Streeters using L’Oreal Paris; nails Anatole Rainey at Premier Hair & Makeup using Dior Vernis; model Mariacarla Boscono at Viva; photographic assistants Romain Dubus, Douglas Irvine; styling assistants Ai Kamoshita, Viola Galassi, Isabella Kavanagh, Linnéa Isabella; hair assistant Hannah-Joy Bull; make-up assistant Cassie Pollard; seamstress Michelle Warner; digital operator Henri Coutant at Dtouch; production Floriane Desperier at 4Oktober

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