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AC9 AW20

AC9 is the new Italian brand making dresses you’ll want to wear

We speak with the founder of one the latest womenswear labels to emerge from Milan

Last year, Sicily-born designer Alfredo Cortese left his job in public relations and ventured out to begin a new chapter of his career. Taking a leap directly into the other side of the fashion industry, Cortese launched his very own ready-to-wear womenswear brand, AC9, which focusses on creating clothes with wearable, paired back silhouttes.

Based in Milan, the label debuted its first collection online during the SS20 season – and for its sophomore collection, Cortese has channelled an element of “opulent simplicity”, by creating 18 dresses which reinterpret staple garments through a sophisticated lens. “To make something contemporary, I always want to start with the basic elements of both male and female wardrobes – like a T-shirt or a tank top – inflated with unexpected volume, and tainted by architectural exaggerations,” Cortese tells Dazed of his design process. 

Prior to working in public relations, Cortese studied chemistry at university during his early 20s. “I was always attracted to the reactions between solvents – for example, the mixture of oil and water,” he explains, discussing how his studies helped inform his choice of material for AC9’s AW20 collection. “I started by looking at different fabrics with different consistencies – one soft, and one with a more structured volume. I then used these elements to help build the collection’s aesthetic.” 

The collection continues to establish the brand’s DNA, and features a series of asymmetrical, colour blocked garments, and the lookbook rejects styling the clothes entirely. Instead, it features a model wearing the garments in completely stripped back setting – an element which was important to Cortese, in order to allow customers to interpret the garments in their own unique way. “I always try to make all my creations with a blank canvas. In my lookbook, I shot the model without shoes because I don’t want to add a certain attitude to the clothes,” he said. 

Cortese has high hopes for the future of his brand: “One day, I hope that you will be able to see a dress, and recognise it’s AC9 without even seeing the label.” With the preparation for AC9’s next collection already underway, you can take a first look at the brand’s latest offering in the gallery above, and in the short film below.