She grew up in Palmi in Calabria, where she was born 28 years ago, but after a law degree at Messina University, she moved to Milan to study at the Istituto Europeo di Design. Alessia Crea – that’s her real name, which is poetically fitting for a fashion designer – after collaborations with important Italian labels, was among the winners of the Next Generation competition in November 2010, run by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, and the collection under her own name was revealed in the show-space provided by the Camera at Womenswear Fashion Week last March. But the designer seems indefatigable, whether she’s continuing to collaborate externally with other brands, or being in charge of the womenswear line of accessories, Casamadre, which is now in its second season. We meet the young promise of Italian fashion.
When and why did you decide to become a fashion designer? How did a line under your name come about?
A.C. I’ve always wanted to do this job; since I was little I’ve done nothing but draw clothes and create impossible jewellery. Luckily I kept any old scribble! Creating a line under my own name was always “the dream”, I got there by making huge sacrifices, it’s about hard work daily and so much passion. I looked to get as much experience and information as possible before I took this step, it’s a hard time and you need to be prepared.
Can you tell us how it felt to be one of the young designers to show at the Next Generation project launched by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana?
A.C. The Camera Nazionale show was a marvellous moment and I absolutely revelled in it. The experience of showing among young people, I think, is much stronger compared with the shows that feature those who are used to the industry. The general excitement involves everybody and altogether we work for the success of the event, helping one another. I think that it’s much more involving for the participants.
Tell me about the collection.
A.C. The inspiration was born out of the atmosphere of particular days that often coincide with religious festivals. The sense of trepidation, the preparations and the expectation – that’s the collection’s mood. The sacred and the profane merge, you can no longer see the confine between the two and it can take over everything, from the most rowdy manifestations to a silent religion. The characters of these days are revived in the clothes, there are cassocks, damsels and good mannered women locked in high-necked overcoats. The construction of the garments really comes from studying clerical clothing: the weight is put on the shoulders so that big vertical pleats are created, the volumes of fabric are ample at the bottom but give the impression of grace and lightness. Deep velvets and transparent chiffon join together in my clothes and create effects of full and empty, light and heavy.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have icons that you reference?
A.C. I get inspiration from travelling, from films, from art, from experiences and from people. My icon for excellence is Coco Chanel.
There’s a lot of talk about generational turnover and of the many problems that young designers have to face. But is there any collaboration with the new generations? Who do you like among your contemporaries? And who do you admire among the big names of fashion?
A.C. In my opinion, talk of generational turnover isn’t the real problem, in the end historical brands and designers are respected very little in comparison with the enormous multitude which would like to replace them. Of course, the market is saturated with mundane products and you can only have space with a different suggestion of quality. I’d say that there’s collaboration among the young designers, at least in the first phase, after that I wouldn’t know. I like all of the Next Generation designers, even those from the last year. Among the important names, I’d say Antonio marras.