With its long-established, family-run fashion houses and powerful reputation for traditional craftsmanship, Italy can be a difficult place for a young designer trying to make their mark. Yet Nicholas Julitta, with his innovative and experimental approach to womenswear, is one fresh-on-the-scene Italian designer that has caught everyone’s attention. His debut collection for A/W11, unveiled during Milan Fashion Week last September, combines strong tailoring with a diverse use of materials, from shaved fur and copper threads to raw yarns. The finished result is an array of eye-catching, sharply structured garments, including cream coats and encased fur jackets, structured trousers and loose-fitting tops.
The small collection may have a minimal aesthetic, but for Julitta, the design process is a long and experimental journey, and each piece has been resized, reshaped, deconstructed and even burnt with a blow torch to look and feel exactly the way he wants. After three years spent studying in both Milan and Helsinki and a year working at the helm of Austrian designer Carol Christian Poell, Julitta won My Own Show in 2010, a pioneering talent initiative that won him rave reviews from WWD and Vogue. Since unveiling his fall collection with a single woman stage performance at the prestigious ‘I’ theatre in Milan, for this season, Julitta showed his well-received collection in the form of a gallery installation, fully confirming his place on the Milan fashion circuit.
Dazed Digital: You redesign your materials using chemical treatments. Why have you chosen this technique?
Nicholas Julitta: At first it wasn't a real choice. I didn’t have the financial means to purchase materials with the desired features so I tried to change them according to my knowledge. The chemical treatments usually have an immediate and mathematical impact on the elements. Despite this, it took months to perfect the result.
DD: What were the ideas and inspirations behind your first collection?
Nicholas Julitta: The ideas start from a vision of how it could feel to touch the surface of the pieces, or how they might feel being worn. From there I look for the fibre or the right material and I begin to experiment. I try not to have a theme, but one step at a time, the collection grows by itself. The appearance changes in the course of the garment's realisation, and in most cases the errors in the chemical process result in another new product.
DD: How did the idea for your theatre performance come about?
Nicholas Julitta: The previous collection is a story of a woman who believed herself to be superior to others. Then, day after day, she discovered how to be human and ‘equal’ to everyone. The performance at the ‘teatro I’ attempted to represent the same person at the epiphany of this discovery, and the admission of her own nature.
DD: You debuted your first capsule collection in Milan. How much support does Italy give its young designers?
Nicholas Julitta: In Italy, the transition from the underground of the fashion world is a very lumbering process, and unfortunately not always meritocracy wins. However I was supported by ‘Annus Mirabilis’, a new project based in Milan which helps new designers develop their brand. So far I’ve had a good response from the companies that have supported me, and in Italy there is great skill and manpower available.
DD: What was it like to work with Carol Christian Poell?
Nicholas Julitta: I have a great esteem for his work. Over the years, Christian has managed to preserve his philosophy and his product. The research, the construction and the materials are the result of years of knowledge and tests. Working in his studio gave me the opportunity to enter one of the last perfect Ateliers of fashion.
DD: What can we expect next?
Nicholas Julitta: I don’t know, flowers?