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Photography by Marcio Madeira

Francesco Scognamiglio S/S 09

“I would leave for Paris tomorrow. Milan is a business and financial capital, but Paris is the ideal place to develop as a fashion designer.”

Born in 1975 in Pompeii, near Naples, Francesco Scognamiglio opened his first atelier when he was 23. Since then his career has been constantly on the rise thanks to his designs often characterised by a strange dichotomy between research, experimentation and avant-garde inspirations on one side and the traditional principles of the Neapolitan tailoring school on the other. This perennial dichotomy came back in Scognamiglio’s Spring/Summer 09 collection: perfectly tailored cropped jackets were paired with black plastic see-through trousers; there was an emphasis on sleeves, shoulders and shoulder-pads, often decorated with ethereal feathers; sculpted ruffles appeared on necklines, skirts and dresses, alternated to cascades of roses. Soft and light fabrics were juxtaposed to stiffer fabrics used to create more structured volumes and silhouettes. This bi-dimensionality allowed the outfits to acquire a new form as the fabrics created chiaroscuro effects and a tactile experience exalted by the body’s movement. Scognamiglio’s ivory silky suits and his signature organza blouses were impeccable, while his rigid coat dresses mirrored the personality of the muse the young designer had in mind when he designed this collection, a self-confident and warrior-like, though highly sensual and sexy, woman.

Dazed Digital: Where did the inspiration for your Spring/Summer 09 collection come from?
Francesco Scognamiglio: It came from a deep desire of communicating a modern allure and a new sense of elegance. Birds of paradise were they main theme behind this collection. These rare birds inspired the feather details and the collection palette, if you think about the blue zircon of some of the outfits. The fabrics used in this collection went from the softest and lightest silks, almost transparent and impalpable, to silk gazar woven on ancient looms that was employed to give more structure to some garments.  

DD: Is there one of the outfits from the S/S 09 collection that was particularly difficult to make?  
FS: The last one. Behind it there is all my experience but also the highest craftsmanship since to make this outfit I used crystal mesh, chiffon and lace. Working with three different materials that also have very different weights was very challenging but also highly rewarding.       

DD: In one of your previous collections there were little hidden details on some of the outfits, such as golden buttons with heraldic symbols and stylised bagpipes. Are there any special hidden details in this collection?
FS: The sartorial construction of this season’s dresses is the real hidden detail. Though from the outside the dresses look very simple, inside they have a complicated structure built with whalebone sticks.
DD: When you begin working on a new collection, where do you start from?    
FS: I usually start from a feeling, a perception, which I then transfer onto the paper. That original feeling then allows me to develop a mood for the collection and form in my mind an ideal woman I will represent during my catwalk show.

DD: And who is Francesco Scognamiglio’s ideal woman?
FS: She’s definitely a strong woman and I have represented her even better at my catwalk show in Milan with famous top models from the ‘90s such as Hannelore Knuts and Ann Catherine Lacroix. I would say that my ideal woman is a modern icon of strength, such as Italian actress Valerina Golino or French Charlotte Gainsbourg, amazing women who do not incarnate the most commercial images of beauty. I see my ideal woman as someone who has a niche image that can only be appreciated by those people who are able to discover the most unique side in all things.

DD: Who has been the greatest influence on your career?
FS: My mother. She’s definitely the person I admire the most in my life. She died a year ago, but she has influenced and will keep on influencing my designs and my work in an obsessive way. She was a very elegant woman, she wanted my evolution and my success and I feel that now she is directing it from somewhere else.

DD: Did you get a lot of feedback from the fashion media after your catwalk in Milan?
FS: Many critics saw a strong evolution in my style and I received positive comments both from the Italian and foreign press and from important fashion editors. Being complimented by style gurus such as Jefferson Hack was a great honour for me.

DD: A black chiffon blouse from your Autumn/Winter 2008-09 collection was worn by Madonna in her “Give It 2 Me” video. Would you like to collaborate with a film director and work also for the big screen?
FS: I would absolutely love it and would be honoured to be working for the cinema. Making costumes for a film is actually one of my future ambitions.

DD: Would you ever leave Milan for Paris?
FS: If it were possible, I would leave for Paris tomorrow. Milan is a business and financial capital, but Paris is the ideal place to develop as a fashion designer. The French capital is more open to creative people who often struggle to emerge in other countries. Paris is much more modern than other capitals and between Milan, New York and Paris, it’s the latter that has a stronger image. Besides, once you are accepted in Paris as a fashion designer, you receive your final consecration. This is why I’m very happy for all those Italian designers who live and work in France, I see this as an honour for me as well. I admire all those colleagues of mine who represent Italy abroad in other maisons such as Riccardo Tisci and Stefano Pilati. I’m really happy for them and proud of their position. Riccardo is my same age while Stefano is just a few years older than me. I hope one day I will be able to follow in their steps as I think Paris perfectly embodies the spirit of my work.