“Fashion has the opportunity to find a new authenticity”

Marco de Vincenzo has spent the past two years dealing with many of the same emotions as the rest of us, which he has channeled into a new “experimental” project to be unveiled this month.

Although he’s reluctant to donate anything ahead of his show, the designer describes this latest initiative as new and more inclusive. “It’s an experiment, so I’m curious to see the reaction.”

Deprived of the stimuli that travel traditionally offered, de Vincenzo, who is also chief designer for leather goods at Fendi, was forced to withdraw into himself, using his work to process what was going on around him. “There is always something to discover when you are going through something as unique as Covid, and the new project is the result of my solitude and being in my own intimate world.

“Fendi preferred to stop travel for its designers,” he explained during a recent trip to Dubai – his first in a long time. “I haven’t traveled abroad for two years. It was so strange to have to find creativity within.

The Sicilian-born designer graduated from the European Institute of Design in Milan and in 2000, at the age of 21, he joined Fendi, where he worked alongside Silvia Venturini Fendi. In January 2009, he made his fashion debut at Paris Haute Couture Week and, in September, launched his eponymous women’s ready-to-wear line at Milan Fashion Week. In 2019, he launched into men’s fashion.

“I’m very busy,” he admits. “For 12 years now, I don’t know any other way. I think I would miss it if I stopped, because I’m the kind of designer who finds his energy to work and create. And I love what I do. Sometimes the pressure is too much, especially working for a big brand like Fendi, but I’m happy. I am here to work and fashion gives me many opportunities.

Today, it is obvious to speak of inclusiveness, but I think that prejudice is not dead; he is always present

Mark of Vincenzo

Always open to new adventures, a recent project is a two-season collaboration with Italian plus-size fashion brand Marina Rinaldi, which has spurred a fundamental shift in her outlook. “It’s my first collaboration, so it was really nice to connect with another story to understand what they’re looking for,” he says.

As with most designers, de Vincenzo is used to designing clothes for an industry-standard UK size 8, so this shift in perspective was life-changing, he says. “Marina Rinaldi is amazing, it’s their mission to create clothes for women that fashion doesn’t consider. They gave me another point of view that I lacked, to speak to everyone, not just an ideal .

“Today it is obvious to talk about inclusiveness, but I think that prejudice is not dead; he is always present. I never draw with black, but I thought maybe the color was too much on a body that isn’t that thin. But no, that’s not true. Everything works for everyone.

The designer is known for his use of bold colors and decadent fabrics.  Getty Images

The designer is known for his use of bright colors and decadent fabrics – think shimmering dresses in pistachio or emerald, paired with straps with extravagant bows. There is an unabashed prodigality in his work, which he skillfully reinvented for Marina Rinaldi.

For her new Spring/Summer 2022 capsule for the brand, a trench coat trimmed in cobalt blue and pink has been reinterpreted into a bright check jacket and skirt, while her enduring love affair with lurex now appears under the form of a dress with vertical stripes in tan color. metallic, with the hem left as tendrils. There’s even a fluid crepe blanket in a color gradient. “It was very difficult because printing the fabric everywhere with this shade is not easy,” he admits. “We took a long time to work with the factories.”

Taking the time to perfect a technique is typical of Marina Rinaldi, says Lynne Webber, the brand’s general manager. Cutting clothes to fit properly is a highly technical process. When scaling a dress pattern, those looking to cut corners simply enlarge the pattern, but for Marina Rinaldi – and Webber – that’s anathema. Instead, she insists, the pattern is recut for each dress size, as well as tested on models to make sure it fits, long before it goes into production. “If we’re making pants, they’re worn to make sure they’re comfortable and move with the shape of the body,” says Webber.

This is possible thanks to the knowledge acquired over decades and a huge technical team that makes sure that every waistband, armhole, zipper and pocket is exactly where it needs to be. It’s this specialized knowledge that sets the company apart, says Webber. “Proportion, length, pleats in the back – it’s a lot more 3D process, not just a front and a back. It is a know-how accumulated over 40 years.

But just as crucial as it was to involve the technical team, Webber says it was equally essential that de Vincenzo’s vision was not compromised. “It’s very important that a designer’s signature style is respected, because it’s an important message. We have customers who come in and say, “Oh, I’ve always loved this designer, and finally I can wear it too. It is extremely positive.

For de Vincenzo, the experience was surprisingly rewarding. “It was an opportunity to reflect on my personal history,” he says. “My mother is now a customer, but I remember as a child, shopping with her and she became sad because it was very difficult for her to find something beautiful but also comfortable. It was very important for me to realize that fashion today is truly a universal language.

“I learned a lot with them, and if you are a creative person, as soon as you stop learning, something is wrong. When Marina Rinaldi called me, I immediately said yes because I was looking for this, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

“It’s the first time since I started that I’ve looked at the bigger picture. I think Covid, my time off during lockdown and my experience with Marina Rinaldi, has made design very different in my spirit.

Marco de Vincenzo for Marina Rinaldi, spring summer 2022. Courtesy Marina Rinaldi

This acceptance of all shapes and body types in the fashion industry is crucial, says de Vincenzo, especially as more and more Gen Z come of age. “I think that’s the only way for fashion to survive, to understand that something is changing. These rules and codes that fashion has been using for a very long time? The new generation doesn’t understand them, and they’re don’t care.

“I think the most successful projects of the last 10 years are the most authentic. I personally know Alessandro Michele [creative director of Gucci], because he worked with me at Fendi for two years, and it’s true that everything he does comes from him; that’s why it’s such a hit. The soul of the project is pure, because authentic. And I think fashion has the opportunity to find a new authenticity.

For de Vincenzo, this legitimacy lies in the know-how behind each piece. “A dress is just the last step, so if there’s anything we can do today is tell the story behind the pieces. I’m a factory man and I like to go in the factories and meeting the people who work there. It’s a very magical experience for me. I think this language is unknown and that’s a shame, because it’s beautiful.

Marina Rinaldi

Italian know-how is still the envy of the world and the country is full of tiny family factories specializing in very specific techniques, whether it be lace, wool or woven fabrics. “Every collection, for me, starts there. I used to spend 10 days visiting these factories, and the collection was the result. I never start designing by just looking at a book; for me, it has to start with this experience with the fabrics, because they are incredible.

At Fendi too, this heritage is cherished. De Vincenzo was part of the team behind the brand’s Hand in Hand exhibition in Rome, which consisted of 20 exquisite handmade Baguette handbags, each reflecting the craftsmanship of Italy. First introduced in 2020, last year there was a second iteration to showcase the famous Silvia Venturini Fendi bag designed in 1997, remade using regional knowledge and techniques from across the country.

“To manufacture them, we traveled to discover very small factories. I visited 10 of them and met amazing people, all working the same way as their parents. And I’m sure it’s the perfect story to tell to younger generations. It’s fascinating.”

Updated: February 20, 2022, 06:33

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