The designers presenting their FW12 collection
We have often featured A-Lab collections on 160g: their designs are way ahead of the average Italian fashion scene and stay exciting season after season. We had the pleasure to meet the designers Simona Costa and Alessandro Biasi at the Vogue Italia Party during London Fashion Week. Read what they have to say about fashion, art, their latest collection, and shoes…
-Why the name A-Lab?
The A is the initial of Alessandro, who had the idea to create and develop this project. “Lab” stands for “LABORATORY”, which is the world of A-lab, a place of creations, meetings and confrontations, but above all human relationships.
-What are your backgrounds? How did you become fashion designers?
We have two very different backgrounds and perhaps this is what makes us strong. I went to a high-school specializing in artistic education, while Simona went to a tailoring schol. We met at university and together we developed our passion for fashion.
-Can you share with us how you do your research – in other words what are your iconographic approaches?
The research always starts from a suggestion that invades everything: a book, a movie or a painting. Then we analyse it from different points of view, from the history of costume to photography.
-You often work with sculptural shapes, yet they always are not only elegant but also sexy… how do you avoid the sense of coldness/frigidness that can derive from minimalism?
There is a kind of fusion between the elements of masculine tailoring and feminine tailoring of the 50s that helps us finding the right balance.
-What is your definition of style?
Style equals personality. It is the way you wear clothes, the way you are performing them, the way you make them your own.
-You come from Italy: what is for you the most positive thing about your country, and what is its major downfall?
The most positive thing about Italy is the traditional tailoring, the quality of fabrics and the way they are used, everything that makes the made in Italy famous throughout the world. Unfortunately, the product often becomes more important than any creative idea or style.
-You told us you would like to move to London – what inspired your decision?
In London, we like the approach to barrier-free imagination. The creativity expressed in a pure way. Beyond their talents, British designers have more possibilities to express themselves freely.
-Why did you choose to work mainly with prints? Is it the future of artisanship?
Because the print is the most direct and easy way to express a concept. The visual image is playing an increasingly important role. The world we are living in goes faster and faster and the image is easy to read. Furthermore, in this period of history, people need positivism – that is what we aim to give them through prints and colours.
-Your prints have a very kaleidoscopic quality – what makes symmetry so important for your designs?
We believe that symmetry represents balance and perfection, which are the basis of our research and our work.
-Your collections have ranged on a variety of subjects and aesthetics – still lifes and vanitas, book scribbles, tropical prints, lately Japanese-inspired imagery – all of these without being cliché, as some designers do with such hyper-determined references; you also create monochrome pieces and ‘simpler’ dramatic shapes. What then makes the unity of A-Lab, whose products are so easily recognizable?
A-lab dresses hide a strong personality determined by the cuts and details that are most noticeable in monochromatic pieces.
-Your latest collection, A-War Couture, was the perfect mix between Japanese imagery and 40s shapes, something the characters from Blade Runner might wear for an autumnal vacation… is it more dystopic or utopic?
We believe that the world of Blade Runner is about the allure of decadence: although it may seem scary, it is seductive as well.
-Where does your interest for Japan come from? Why the 40s?
Since the Japanese art has a vital role in our prints, we were fascinated by the simplicity of the graphic artists, opposed to the Japanese attention to detail that we feel close to our style. The 40s have been a very difficult period for our society and as in all periods of crisis, creativity was essential. It is in bad economic times that people bring out their talent: women reworked the masculine wardrobe and fought the deep crisis with blows of scissors and fabric.
-The collection also marked the introduction of shoes in the A-Lab répertoire… can you tell us more about it?
We have collaborated with two young British designers from London, Diana and Woo, who created a shoe based on our concept of combining a retro style with a contemporary and strong design, much like our cuts. It was an experiment…we like to create synergies together with other young creative minds. it is always inspiring for us.
-As I was preparing these questions, I realized that all your creations have something paradoxical: they are strict yet sexy, rigid yet in very ‘decadent’ colours, you make the most beautiful LBDs yet they are anything but basic pieces… this time, while your materials and your shapes seemed more feminine than usual, you counterbalanced them with unexpected details (such as blown-up lace motifs and mini-turbans). It also looked like a very calligraphic collection, yet it is based on prints. How can a designer find a balance between such contrasting elements?
The main goal is to try to always do something new, not to repeat ourselves but at the same time to maintain our strong identity. Whenever we are faced to a dress we are always wondering: “Is it A-lab?”
-Similarly, how do you strike the right balance between fashion and art?
We combine two worlds that we consider paradoxically opposites. We start by art to create fashion. Art is part of our DNA. While we are not making art, we start by decomposing it and giving it a new form. Art is the ultimate expression of beauty and somehow it is our muse.
-What are your upcoming projects?
We have many projects and one of them should be realized really soon but you will have to wait until June to discover it…
Thanks again to the A-Lab team, we cannot wait for your next collection!
Photos F/W12 courtesy A-Lab, illustration by Anna Blachut.
Eva Riccobono wearing A-Lab on Rai2, 31.04.1212 May 2012 Leave a Comment