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New Dada, New Menswear: Leitmotiv

Fabio Sasso and Juan Caro got an honorary mention at the “Who’s On Next?” menswear competition.

The panel members hailed them as a modern version of Fornasetti and in a way you can’t deny that Fabio Sasso and Juan Caro’s prints are more about art than about fashion.

The two designers behind the Leitmotiv duo were both studying in Bologna when they met by chance. Sasso was studying art and following private tailoring classes, Caro had moved to Italy from his native Bogotá to study art. Realising they shared many interests they started collaborating together, using Caro’s prints on garments made by Sasso.

In just two years they were admitted to the Fashion Incubator project launched by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion, then they were invited to present their womenswear collection to the previous edition of Pitti W_Woman and were recently chosen as finalists of the first “Who’s On Next?” award dedicated to menswear.
Both their men and women’s collections have one thing in common: they combine art and fashion and often display a healthy dose of surreal irony.

Inspired by artist Joseph Cornell, Leitmotiv’s S/S 2010 menswear line features brightly coloured shirts, a series of little cropped ties that has the potential of becoming a must come next season, a collection of brooches inspired by the theme of memory and accessories such as hats and helmets created in collaboration with historical Italian brand Borsalino.           

Dazed Digital: How do you feel at having achieved such a successful result at the first menswear edition of “Who’s On Next”?
Fabio Sasso: It has definitely been an exciting time for us. We were already happy since we had previously been selected for “Who’s On Next?” for our womenswear collection. We are particularly satisfied about the results we achieved for what regards menswear since we feel men’s clothes and accessories have a special place in our hearts.

Dazed Digital: Do you conceive your colourful prints as a way to inject a bit of fun in the world of menswear?
Fabio Sasso: Yes, in a way we do. We usually start from classic garments and try to innovate them, reinterpreting particular periods of times such as the Gothic or the Baroque periods that we consider as our personal historical and costume landmarks. We like giving a new and refreshing look to staple, yet at times boring, parts of a man’s wardrobe, such as shirts.

Dazed Digital: You also design small accessories, do you conceive them as an integral part of a man’s wardrobe?    
Juan Caro: Yes, we do. Many menswear designers do not dare much, but I think that menswear is a huge universe made of little details all worthy of being explored and analysed. I feel that as designers we must work on these little details and accessories that, once mixed together, can help creating a total look.

Dazed Digital: What’s the inspiration behind the S/S 2010 collection?
Juan Caro: The collection we presented at “Who’s On Next?” is inspired by the works of Joseph Cornell, an American artist from the 50s. He created these works that he would call “memory boxes” and used to work a lot with the idea of memory. Our collection is mainly dedicated to memories and mementos and if you carefully analyse our designs you will be able to discover little universes that we conceive as parts of our memories printed in the graphic motifs on shirts or incorporated in the brooches and in the hats.
Fabio Sasso: In this collection we filtered Cornell through our New Dada and surreal souls, so we created a mix of aesthetic and formal inspirations. We started our research from the 1700s analysing the possibilities cropped ties and tail jackets could offer us and then moved onto reinterpreting these items through artistic inspirations from the 40s-50s. In this collection we continuously bounced back and forth between history of art and history of costume. 

Dazed Digital: Do you find it easy working as a design duo?
Juan Caro: Our creative souls are quite different, but I think it’s exactly from this juxtaposition and from the contradictions generated by our different tastes that the most interesting ideas are born.
Fabio Sasso: I agree, it’s definitely a very good collaboration, but we have very different identities: I have more Baroque tastes, while Juan likes Gothic a lot and in many cases he’s much more minimalist than me. Yet it’s exactly these tensions that help us creating our distinctive collections.