I am glad to introduce you Mr Antonio Bandini, consultant senior designer for womenswear. He used to work for Salvatore Ferragamo, Guy Laroche, Valentino Garavani, Alberta Ferretti, Dolce&Gabbana, Ilaria and MSGM.
“FASHION FOR FEW, CLOTHES FOR ALL”
1) Before starting with the core of the interview, I would say what is luxury for you and how it appears in fashion?
My definition of luxury matches the freedom of movement and complete independence. In fashion, luxury lies in the value of the brand, in low-profile and discrete brands, not showing off. Nowadays the word luxury should be rethought to back to the original concept when luxury was reserved, for a few, not because unaffordable but for conception. When fashion was not democratic.
2) I guess you have received many questions about your experience at Valentino’s, Which was the added value you got professionally speaking?
Be the right hand of Mr Valentino made me feel lucky and privileged because I really saw what Haute Couture means. Before I had experience only in the prét-à-porter and at Valentino’s it even sounded like Haute Couture. We addressed a niche within the niche, and this was a problem for the merchandising. I tasted everything, from the high quality of products to clients. I learned a lot, to become perfectionist up to the point of hearing: “Antonio stop it, you’re getting worse than me”
3) Do you have a funny anecdote to tell?
Yes, just to give you an idea of the atmophere you could breathe at Valentino’s and to understand the environment in which I worked. I wanted to present an idea that I had to Mr. Valentino and I started with, “I thought”. No time to finish the spelling and the answer was: “Antonio here I am the only one who has the right to think!”.
4) What do you think of the work that Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli are carrying out?
They have been able to shape the concept of Valentino’s femininity. From a seductive, elegant and never rude sensuality to an ethereal, demure and less “décolleté” one. They succeeded without distorting the brand, not losing its DNA.
5) What is essential in your collections? What do you want to bring out?
Everything comes out from a pure idea that slowly evolves into a moodboard, being influenced by marketing and merchandising to fit into their needs. I get the inspiration from everything around me such as art exhibitions, magazines, street style, groups of colors and nature. There is always a trigger that turns into connections like circles in the water. A common element is definitely harmony and proportions, a real obsession. Because everything that has proportions can become beautiful and elegant. The type of woman I like to present has always a masculine side, not provocative in a blatant and obvious way. I love a femininity to be discovered and interpreted.
6) Who is the most revolutionary creative director in breaking fashion rules?
Tom Ford has changed the system in a completely innovative way. He made up the figure of creative director, a manager of the whole image. In fact he introduced the American concept – focused on marketing – to create an image, an atmosphere and then come the products. In the sense that novelty was not on the products of the collection that were very simple but in the concept behind. He has been able to sell a movie taking care of the music, make-up, style, posture, lights thus giving a unique touch. If I think of his first catwalk, garments had nothing special, in fact they were very common but the innovation was in making a man’s shirt with flared trousers and a jacket with two buttons appealing thanks to models’ image. In addition from one collection to another, Tom Ford woman dramatically changed, becoming the opposite of the previous one. You see this is a brilliant strategy to boost sales.
7) What barriers may hamper designer’s creativity?
The real problem to design a collection, is that fashion is not a pure art but it has an economic side, one must sell. Therefore it is not free to express itself. This affects the collection because when you have to rely on trends, numbers of past collections then problems arise. The repetition of trends limits the creativity and is counterproductive. Another serious problem is the standardization as result of globalization. Let me give an example: Tom Ford introduced this concept in the windows of Gucci, You could find in Paris, Milan and Beijing the same showcase. Conversely other brands have applied the opposite strategy: different stores, close to the local culture while keeping a common fil rouge.
8) As a student, I ask you: is there a real interest towards young Italian designers? And what would you suggest?
The interest is very low but mostly driven by the duty to make the Italian fashion system less old and more up-to-date. It looks like a corporate social responsibility activity to be modern and fresh. Perhaps this is because great designers fear the comparison and do not want to share the stage. Nowadays, young people need to show, be present, build a network, be social, “sell theirselves”. So I recommend you backing to fashion, studying with method and working with passion and authenticity. This will be the future.
9) You worked for many brands, which was the more formative experience?
Actually all of them supported my professionalism step by step. I was young, talented and enthusiast. At Ferragamo’s they planted a tree in a land that was already well-fertilized. Someone has believed in a young resource! Then all the experiences allowed to grow up and make me what I am.
10) Plans for the future?
Superstition aside, I’m about to start a project (capsule collection) for a big Chinese brand that has 400 stores in China and 3500 employees. The thing that struck me was the change it wants to implement. It has achieved success by selling mass-market products and now it is determined to become a totally Made in Italy brand. Everything will be Italian and exclusive, the designer, fabrics and realization.