3 posts tagged "Who Is On Next"
Each July, fashion—the made-in-Italy kind, at least—moves south to Rome. The destination? Altaroma fashion week, Italy’s answer to haute couture, where acting President Silvia Venturini Fendi and Vogue Italia‘s Franca Sozzani pick the womenswear winners of Italy’s annual Who is On Next young designer competition. (The men’s half of Who’s Next was held last month at Pitti in Florence.)
The prestigious international jury, including Suzy Menkes, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Terron Schaefer and Harvey Nichols’ Averyl Oates, spent last Saturday in a sizzling-hot Rome reviewing the work of seven ready-to-wear labels and four accessories lines for the seventh edition of the prize, which rewards winners with a feature shoot by one of Vogue Italia‘s photographers and a fashion-show slot during Milan fashion week in late September. (Yoox.com, Mercedes-Benz, and Alcantara offered their own supplemental prize.)
Angelos Bratis (left), a Greek designer producing his collection in Italy, won first prize for his sleek, bias scarf-cut pieces inset with stars, while second prize went to Stella Jean, a Caribbean-Italian designer born in Rome, who created Euro-African mix of crisp pinstripe shirts and wax prints in modernized fifties hourglass shapes. Alessio Spinelli, whose eponymous shoe collection debuted in Rome this year, won the accessories prize for the innovative details of his Neon, collection like stiletto sandals with glow-in-the-dark-edged soles, or interchangeable shocking satin laces. Marta Ferri, who did a bright, floral-filled remix of fifties glamour, received the jury’s special mention.
“It’s really amazing to participate in a competition like this,” said Bratis, who spoke during a private evening tour of the Vatican with the jury and journalists assembled for the prize, a rare treat negotiated by Silvia Fendi using all her intra-Roman connections. “All of a sudden you’re in a room with some of the people who you have always dreamed of showing your collection to. So there’s 15 minutes to explain what you’re doing. And then you realize that they understand everything and that an explanation really isn’t necessary.”
Three new names to know: Erkan Coruh, Jerome C. Rousseau, and Claudio Montias. The trio of designers—Coruh for ready-to-wear and Rousseau and Montias for accessories—were just named winners of Vogue Italia‘s annual Who Is On Next awards. The victors were announced at Rome’s AltaRomaAltaModa haute couture week, which just kicked off in the Italian capital.
Coruh’s Spring collection, Radical Beauty, took the top prize. Inspired by the work of Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, it charts, in the Turkish designer’s words, the “dramatic journey from the rigid world of Islam to a vision of feminine beauty.” (In practice, that means everything from head-covering tops paired with mini bustle skirts to a patchwork dress fashioned from raw-edged chamois suede—all made in Italy, one of the contest’s prerequisites. A look from his Fall collection, The Women of Allah, is pictured, left.)
The Canadian footwear designer Jerome C. Rousseau and the Argentine footwear designer Claudio Montias shared the second prize. Rousseau said he was inspired by “glam and disco” for his winning collection; he honed his shoe skills working for Matthew Williamson (who knows a thing or two about both), before launching his own brand in London in 2008. (He now sells to Barneys, Dover Street Market, and Harvey Nichols.)
Winning comes with a plum reward—a slot on September’s show calendar at Milan fashion week and a shoot with one of Vogue Italia‘s star photographers. Last year’s winner, ready-to-wear designer Marco de Vincenzo, says the prize made “all the difference” for his fledgling business. His namesake collection now sells to 26 stores worldwide, and in September, his slinky dresses will be available at Paris’ Colette.
The huge machinery that is the Italian luxury fashion and textile industry is facing a threat on three fronts: its own complacency in not developing homegrown talent, the migration of manufacturing to low-cost countries, and now the economic downturn. In a way, though, though, the horrible realization that there’s a perfect storm brewing might be just what’s needed to compel backers and fashion employers to recognize and hire young designers in order to shore up the future.
After winning this year’s Who Is on Next? competition (an initiative set up by Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani), Marco de Vincenzo might be a contender. His debut show in Milan, based on ideas about sportswear and classical Greek draping, looked technically accomplished for a relative beginner. Neoprene strips fused onto stretch tulle in geometric patterns were the main feature of his 35-look collection, a technique he said he’d learned from his day job as a bag designer at Fendi.
But why take the risk of starting his own collection at such a down period? “I’ve been working in this area for nine years, since I graduated from design school,” de Vincenzo explained. “I’ve always had a passion to do ready-to-wear. Last March, I realized I didn’t want to wait any longer.” What’s slowly shifting, he says, is the attitude of factory owners toward independent designers whose orders would once have been turned away on the grounds of being too insignificant with which to bother. Now those companies are actively seeking work to keep themselves busy. Meanwhile, other opportunities are opening up as established design companies look to overhaul their labels by hiring young designers as consultants. De Vincenzo’s progress from here to next season could be worth keeping an eye on.