IUAV Venice University Twin Fashion Graduates
Fashion lovers know why they love fashion. Their motivations to get involved with fashion are easily explained. They are for more intricate when ‘anti-fashion’ militants commit to design garments.
Seeking the reason why “socially ‘slash’ culturally ‘slash’ politically committed” characters get involved with fashion – an activity commonly considered as superficial – is both enthralling and revealing. Twins Gregorio and Giovanni Nordio enrolled into the fashion Design course at IUAV University almost by accident. Their fates seem driven by a je-ne-sais-quoi, an inexplicable force towing them toward clothes. Their BA final collection was entitled: Cipputi – after the iconic character of a 1970s Italian graphic novel series. Presented during Fashion at IUAV 2014, the collection clearly demonstrated that while remaining steady on the surface fashion can be given depth.
Giovanni and Gregorio did dig deep into their immediate heritage, not into archives but in their memories: left-wing comics, iconic movies, avant-garde music and the uniforms of the working class. Their references are exquisitely Italian, ‘partigiane’ – partisan, anti-fascists – as the duo would say; they managed however to design a collection reaching far beyond national borders.
Cipputi pays tribute to the eponymous 1970s comic books by Francesco Tullio Altan and to Elio Pedri’s 1971 movie ‘La classe operaia va in paradise,’ that translates as: The working class goes to heaven. The main character of the film – who is played by Italian actor Gian Maria Volonté – is a Stakhanovite factory worker who, realising he is being exploited, turns communist agitator.
The collection applies the language of street style to workwear. The lines are straightforward and show their provenance. The garments material such as the washed cottons of renowned Italian factory Bonotto, refer a well-defined background. Patches and prints stand out and carry the meaning of the collection: stitch your message on the surface of things; they will gain depth as a result.
Gregorio, Giovanni, what did inspire this collection?
Giovanni: Our class was asked to base its final collections on individual interpretations of ‘heritage’. When you think about the heritage the risk is to stop to family traditions, pictures of grandmothers and grandfathers. We tried to avoid the found-in-a-drawer-by-accident syndrome, and instead focused on what we had experienced first-hand. We wanted something close to us, something that we had metabolized, at least visually. Andrea Pazienza’s comics and blue-collars seemed a good compromise. The strength lays in the fact that the “engine” of the collection is very personal. Aesthetic and technical choices are a consequence.
Gregorio: I do not believe in ‘inspiration’ or rather the formal ‘Inspiration’ stage is not part of my design process. We have developed the idea of an ‘heritage’ through an accumulation of images, words, songs that have accompanied us since childhood. We just spent sometimes creating some order into things that have been around us all our life.
Does your interpretation of ‘heritage’ as a personal history, allow for your collection to ever be complete or completed?
Giovanni: I never think our work can be “complete”. It is not a theorem, a mathematical equation.
Every technique, every stitch, every model could be reviewed and reworked. The idea that a product has a beginning and an end scares me. Anyway, if we had the opportunity to create a new collection, we would change neither the theme nor the techniques. But we’d start by studying again a jacket of this collection for example, and move forward from there.
Gregorio: When designing this collection we have discarded many thoughts and ideas because we felt they were off topic. In the end I was sorry we did. A collection with something to tell even if dissonant and uncomfortable is for me, more interesting than an academic or commercial exercise, often apparently more consistent. Sometimes, the most interesting things that we can bring to fashion are to be found outside the world of fashion. Nothing is more boring than self-referential fashion. … Consistency can be boring, too.
What kind of knowledge do you have of the market? Do you consider it when you design?
Gregorio: During the three years of the IUAV course we have had experiences in the industry. The gained and understanding of the realities of fashion and also of specific shops, and customers for our collection. I did an internship at Carol Christian Poell in Milan, and Giovanni worked for Barbara I Gongini’s design office in Copenhagen.
We are quite sure of our tastes and directions, in terms of product. But we never lost sight that this was a degree collection and that it did not presume production. We saw our final collection as the last opportunity to be free and included strictly personal elements into it. Only guided by market logic, we might have avoided doing this.
As far as methodology is concerned, how different is the design of a final collection compared with a course project?
Gregorio: This is the first collection we designed explicitly ‘open’ to an audience. This changes ‘the cards on the table’. We were used to work on collections conceived as academic exercises; the process was slow, reflective. Our ultimate goal with the final collection was to be invited to show it on the Fashion at IUAV 2014 catwalk.
This affected our creative process. We had to make faster decisions and couldn’t afford to spend three weeks figuring out a jacket’s lapel.
What’s next for you?
Giovanni: We have been quite lucky; we have received several job offers, and in the coming months we will advise different brands. We also have to write our dissertation, which will be based on our graduation collection, and in October we will start studying for the IUAV MA.
Gregorio: We still have to learn how to make a ‘real’ collection, discover the possible strategies. ‘Know how’ is not limited to technical knowledge, or drawing and designing. It has to do with how to interact and successfully collaborate with all those companies and laboratories that enable the effective creation of a collection.
Imagine you are not into fashion. What would you be doing?
Giovanni: I would be arguing with colleagues in a university classroom, Sociology or Political Science, I guess.
Gregory: Most probably, architecture, cutting contours.
What you remember of the first months studying fashion?
Giovanni: The perpetual indecision.
Gregorio: The nights spent sewing.
What would you say to someone about to start studying fashion?
Giovanni: Fashion is never just fashion.
Gregorio: If you have always loved “Fashion” maybe you should try to hate it first and pay attention to the negatives. And only then start: this will be you chance to bring something new.
What is your idea of the future of fashion?
Gregorio: Companies and designers who prefer slow to fast and ‘easy’ are what motivate us, even in this rather hostile economic environment in which we all wonder who will be the next slaughtered by the crisis!
What is the aspect of fashion that fascinates you most?
Gregorio: Materiality. There are designers who can easily be understood simply by opening a jacket, looking on the inside, touching the seams. In such cases the image, the blogger, the article, the cover are of little use.
Video that inspired Giovanni and Gregorio Nordio’s collection