On the 2nd of February 2011 LCF went about the unveiling of its MA graduate collections at the V&A. Industry cheeses like Harold Tillman, chairman of the British Fashion Council, watched as 22 agitated graduates debuted their collections. The annual showcase is renowned for spotlighting future fashion peacocks, and has launched the careers of designers such as Manjit Deu, whose label is now stocked in Harrods.
The big momma award of the night, Collection of the Year, was awarded to 27-year-old menswear designer Matteo Molinari. Hailing from Auronzo di Cadore, a small village on the Italian Alps, Molinari’s winning collection pays huge tribute to his Italian heritage, focusing on sharp tailoring with modern touches like crochet and woven cobwebs, decking the backs of matador tuxedos, blouson knits, jumpers and oversized hooded jackets in a subtle palette of black and white; Simple with a twist of elegance. “The complex crochet techniques I worked with are something that all the generations of women in my family used and then taught their daughters the same traditional methods. Also the typology of tailoring I did is Italian, during the manufacturing of my garments I realised the differences between the English way and the Italian way of tailoring”.
The sophistication of Matteo’s collection is one rarely seen from such a young designer. Usually, the lively, little sproglets spend the early days of their career experimenting with exuberant shapes, ambitious styles and startling bids. “Keeping that in mind, I tried to be different – starting from the traditional male wardrobe and working on the men’s essentials: the suits, the trench-coat, the coat and the white shirt. I changed proportions and I elaborated a persona silhouette: sharp for tailoring and structured and architectural for the coats adding the cross-gender twist of using handmade lace in a graphic and masculine way”.
“Everything starts subconsciously with some sketches and writings about some random ideas on the paper. After this phase I’ll deepen my research on a group of ideas reading and studying a lot about the topic I’m into. When I finish it, I start to gradually eliminate elements and redundant ideas trying to become more technical about one or two techniques (crochet for example). In the same time, from my research, I decide for one or two general silhouettes to work with. Then I sketch hundreds of sketches developing garments according to the techniques and silhouettes. The most important thing is the filtering of all the process through my own aesthetic, life experiences, iconography and taste: I don’t really know where I’m going, but for sure I know what I don’t like and I don’t want in my collection”.
There’s nothing I find more appealing than a modest master of his game, (well except a litre of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, drenched in toffee syrup) so I was pleasantly wooed when I asked Matteo where he saw himself in the future and he non-hesitantly responded “Still struggling trying to do what I like to do, but hopefully more serene and satisfied”. With all the industry buzz circulating around him at the moment, like a swarm of sour faced, sartorial mosquitoes frantically dazed by fresh blood, it’s apparent his future could potentially be set. However, if it all goes pair shaped and the unlikely demise of his designing career comes to pass, Matteo has vowed to finish “Trying to finally understand Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Spirit, and in the meantime work at KFC”.
Often found drinking and dancing in some of the worst European clubs, Matteo likes to stay in the middle of the crowd looking around. “I admire self-confidence, people dancing on the edge of the abyss”. Extraverts like his friend Linda “We don’t see each other often. She’s living in Italy, between Verona and Venice, She’s pale and austere; she can talk to you about David Tibet and Genesis P. Orridge for 4 hours non-stop, as easily as not say a word to you for days.
Every time I see her I think she has something unique in her voice, in her long dark hair, in the way she looks at you. She can wear a vintage Lanvin in the morning and a samba costume during the afternoon of the same day. Every word she says to me opens new worlds, even if she’s just speaking about Mariano Fortuny or the last kebab she had coming back drunk from a gig. I would like to dress her but unfortunately I’m not sure she likes my collection”. Ahem, well I’m free for fittings!
We are all eagerly anticipating Matteo’s forth coming collections, and I wonder if we are witnessing the young, gripping roots of the next big name in knitwear and more importantly menswear.