Photography by Martina Scorcucchi. Styling by Chiara Ravizza. Hair by Simone at Toni & Guy Rome. Makeup by Stefania Gazzi. Model: Laura Alina. Location: IED Moda Lab Studios, Rome. All clothes and accessories, Sante Bozzo.
Cecilia Musmeci: Sante, you were among the winners of My Own Show 2012. How has the win influenced your creative path?
Sante Bozzo: The unexpected victory deeply influenced my creative path. I strongly believe in this collection and in my artistic abilities. I heard about the competition at the beginning of my third year of Fashion Design at IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) and immediately had a feeling about it. I knew that I wanted to participate and I couldn’t wait to present my creations in such a large public forum. To me, designing has always been a way to express freedom at its best. There are no words to describe the satisfaction I had upon seeing my collection produced by a prominent fashion house and presented during Milan Fashion Week.
Cecilia: Although you are extremely young, you have already worked for a timeless house, Valentino. How it has influenced the way you work?
Sante: My experience at Valentino dates back to the time of My Own Show 2012. I had the chance to see first hand how the industry actually works. During that period, I discovered the beauty of craftmanship and the value of “Made in Italy.” It was helpful to understand how hectic the moments before a fashion show are. I learned a lot from taking part in the designing of the women’s collections.
Cecilia: Your thesis project, Camera, is freely inspired by the works of Francesca Woodman. The photography of the young artist showcases the ghosts of the man’s ego through an intimate and evocative approach. Could you explain how your perspective and emotions are manifested in the garments?
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Sante: An intimate and suggestive approach can be seen in all of my creative projects; it’s a sort of contemporary romanticism. I think of fashion as the most direct medium [through which] to convey my emotions. I am a private and curious person. From the outside, I may give the impression of being taciturn and calm, but when I create something I am like an exploding bomb. The Camera project originates from a need to express my philosophy and aesthetic. The collection explores the ephemeral world of Francesca Woodman, moving towards her research of the ego, meant to renounce the superficial reality and to reach into a hidden, internal side [of life]: dark places, solid pigments on bitter bodies, raw atmospheres… I constantly have visions in my head, images that suddenly appear and disappear. It’s from these visions that I begin to shape a collection, to give form to my thoughts.
Cecilia: Besides Francesca Woodman, what else has inspired you?
Sante: My life has plenty of artistic influences. I can’t stand triviality. I’m always thinking about various things, contrasting aspects and epochs that I then fuse together to get new and hybrid concepts. When I started to design my graduate collection, I was intrigued with a smoking jacket that I saw in Paris, probably from the early 20th century. From that piece, I decided to reinvent men’s eveningwear, looking for a contact with womenswear. I deeply appreciate the high quality of masculine tailoring: the clean white shirts, the sartorial details, and I wanted to use these sharp elements to build up a new idea of diaphanous and delicate femininity. All these features were also vividly present in Francesca Woodman’s photography.
Cecilia: Camera is fully imbued with nostalgic memories, with feelings of a lost and antique romanticism. How was the interaction of the past and present integrated in the collection’s silhouettes?
Sante: The past and the present blend together to evolve into something that belongs to the future. I conceive the past as a source of unknown messages. Looking behind us, we enrich our knowledge. I regularly read books on costume history, where I discover solutions that I can use in my designs. When I was working on Camera, I incorporated a study on men’s shirt collars and some concepts that I found in a catalog from 1910.
Cecilia: The collection comes in a range of whites, sometimes crossed by bursts of deep blue. Could you explain to us this chromatic combination?
Sante: I chose white because it perfectly expresses the concept of white paint on a naked body. I put together different shades of white to create sophisticated contrasts. A sort of tri-dimensional effect naturally comes out from the layered tones. It was exactly what I wanted. The bursts of blue pour down the seams as inky spots, spreading across the monochromatic fabrics. They are like glimmers of light passing through a cracked door. I always sketch my outfits with a blue pen, and the diaries of Francesca Woodman were written in blue, so the combination was there from the beginning.
Cecilia: You have a strongly tactile approach to design. What research do you do into fabrics and textures?
Sante: I love the thick consistency of colors, the rough surface of a canvas, the grainy appeal of pigments… In Francesca’s pictures, I was especially inspired by the whiteness of dust and milk; transfers of emotions of a pale moving body. I tried to express this intense feelings through fabrics. I usually do a lot of research on materials; this time I chose wool and silk crepe, fine cottons for the shirts, silk chiffon and organza to reproduce on the white fabrics a sense of watery transparency. Wool, cashmere and mohair were used in knitwear. I often alter the weft of the yarns through special washing and dying techniques to make them appear aged. I don’t like when clothing looks too “new.” I strongly believe that every garment has its own life, and soul.
Cecilia: What are the most important steps of the creative process for you?
Sante: My creative process goes from concrete research to pure fantasy. I am constantly inspired, my mind creates and works even when I am sleeping. I am a dreamer with very clear ideas. I think that a collection originates from our very core. When I cut fabrics and start to sew, when I read a book or listen to striking music, there’s something that burns inside of my soul and gives me the strength to overcome the stress and difficulties of creation. I like to stay up to date, but I hate trends. I prefer to maintain my identity. I pick up the elements with which I want to work with and I study them, deconstructing and constructing the garments on the mannequin…That’s really an essential part of my design process.
Cecilia: To immortalize Camera, you chose the lens of young photographer Martina Scorcucchi. Did Martina’s artistic vision add additional layers to your aesthetic?
Sante: Martina is a real expert. I knew her work through the web and I have the pleasure to have met her at IED. She immediately believed in me and I in her. We share the same passion for Francesca Woodman’s works and for the beauty of images. I really wanted to collaborate with her and the results let me speechless. When I was dressing the model I was extremely excited; I looked at her and I saw in her eyes the same desire to tell a story. We worked really hard and we created a strong and decisive message. This is only the first of innumerable projects that we have in mind.
Cecilia: What atmosphere and feelings were you trying to convey with the shoot?
Sante: We wanted to portray the movement, the subtle beauty of a woman—fragile and determined at the same time. It was almost a game. We had an incredible symbiosis and she perfectly captured the principal features of my works. The pictures are full of a shaded sensuality. They show a very intimate dimension in a delicate and unobtrusive way. The model is surrounded by the fabrics as if they perpetually float.
Cecilia: [In Italy] we are currently into a period of general crisis, which also dramatically affects the fashion industry. Considering these circumstances, what are your future plans?
Sante: This period is extremely difficult, even to talk about the situation would be useless because the circumstance clearly speaks for itself. For now, the objective is just to work. I really want to learn and improve as much as I can, to grow up as a designer. In the future, I’d like to travel as a nomad and draw inspiration from the places and the cultures that I find. I’d like to dress strong women who are sensitive to beautiful things, showcasing little collections enhanced by rare and important pieces.
Cecilia: What is the most important aspect of your life at this moment?
Sante: To live… I don’t like to being bored with abstract plans and projects. I live today’s life at its best, accepting everything it offers. The future will be able to give me what I want. I go on. I do it for myself, for my passion, for my family who has always supported me and for those people who I will meet in my life and who will share with me something important. The most important things to me are my choices. Those ones that I’ve done in the past and that brought me here… I am happy to have started this path and I want to follow it until it ends.