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Who Is On Next? Winners MRZ and MTF Maria Turri Are Redefining What Made in Italy Means

Fashion has changed greatly in the 14 years since Franca Sozzani, the legendary editor of Italian Vogue, established the Who Is On Next? competition with AltaRoma to foster young talents continuing the Made in Italy tradition. “Whereas before designers aimed to give a message of fashion and style, now they are more focused on talking about cultural traditions or politics. Today fashion is about community and communication,” observed Sara Sozzani Maino, deputy editor in chief of Italian Vogue and head of Vogue Talents. Five womenswear and four accessories brands participated in this iteration of the contest, whose main prize, the Franca Sozzani Award, was shared equally between Simona Marziali of MRZ and MTF Maria Turri. A special mention went to Marco Lanero, founder of Delirious Eyewear.00-who-is-on-next-2018-winners-2

Over time the phrase Made in Italy, which is a certification of origin as well as a powerful concept that connotes quality and craftsmanship, acquired the gloss associated with high-end luxury products. Marziali not only carries on that tradition of sophistication, but that of her family, who owns Maglificio Tomas, a major knitwear factory. The designer is using their technical know-how to speak to a new generation with sporty, knitwear-based pieces intended, she says, for day-to-day life. For Spring 2019 Marziali was inspired by vintage air travel and engaged with current trends—sportswear elements, bold graphics, layering—in a polished yet playful way. A check wrap dress worn over wispy knit pants, for example, unexpectedly revealed a green-and-white side stripe. A sweatshirt had finely knitted insets, and the arms were removed from a vintage-inspired trench featuring a small-check lining and big-check body. Clearly Marziali is a talent ready to take flight.

Maria Turri Ferro, in contrast, isn’t in a rush to go anywhere. This 33-year-old designer is a proponent of slow fashion who makes all her garments by hand. Through a translator she stated that she wished to remain a niche business and not take on employees. Though she was looking to the past for her Spring 2019 lineup, there was nothing dusty about her collection. Her aesthetic is homespun, and she finds beauty in imperfection, revealing the process of making through small details: using the selvedge edge of a fabric like a trim, or embellishing a dark jacket with the chicken scratch of small hand stitches in contrasting white. There is a soft, poetic quality to Ferro’s work, but it has range: While a full-skirted red midi dress might fall into the modest dressing category, a roomy pair of overalls with straps crisscrossing a low-cut bare back is sensuous. Sustainability is also part of the designer’s practice; a blue-and-white–striped ensemble was constructed out of vintage fabrics.

Marco Lanero of Delirious Eyewear is focused on handcrafting frames from materials like water buffalo horn, titanium, beta-titanium, and natural base acetate.

Who Is On Next? has Lanero’s back as well as those of Ferro and Marziali, who are expanding, in opposite directions, the definition of Made in Italy.

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