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Isabel Benenato

September 19 2011


We met Isabel Benenato, who is showing her SS12 in Milano, when she first showed her men fashion wear. The occasion to best (re)discover her world.

With the new line Men presented at White Woman/Wow Milan and at Tranoï Paris, Isabel Benenato is developping a new project.

Originally from Naples, Isabel Benenato has built an impressive CV, which comprises of professional experience at different fashion houses and studios in London. The designer knew exactly how to combine her artistic training with her strong passion for style, creating her eponymous label, debuted at the White Inside exhibition in 2008, as a womenswear line. The positive feedback she received allowed the designer to further articulate her ideas and, with an AW11/12 collection, also the launch of a menswear line, appeared at Wow in Milan and Tranoï of Paris. A sophisticated and minimalist style, whose inspirational input comes from an attentive interpretation of the surrounding reality, made from well researched materials and rare, particular and authentic threads; playing with volume and asymmetry; garments which are made to last and to go with everyday life and the ordinary individual who chooses and wear them. We meet the designer.

How did you get into fashion, and out of which personal and professional requirements was your eponymous label born?
My granddad, among other things, was a painter – looking at his canvasses, the colours, it was very interesting to me, stimulating even. Then I grew up in my mother’s world. She was a dressmaker, always surrounded by fabrics and with new ideas in mind. It was fantastic to see a textile be transformed into a garment. So I got into fashion in an entirely natural way. I started as soon as I could, working in a designer’s small workroom while I was doing my ‘A Levels’; then I pursued the passion, putting my all into working towards creating a collection which today takes my own name.

What are the principal characteristics of your work?
My work should be characterised by its research of materials, by the shapes, by the most diverse manufacturing techniques and above all the mixing of materials.

How would you define your style?
Contemporary, but timeless.
Tell me about the latest collection.
The collection for AW11/12 is inspired by the image of a burnt forest, by the dark and rarefied atmosphere, presenting winter garments wrapped up in a blanket of fog and bound by the inedited and mysterious aspect. Rough and ragged textiles, like a badly shaven lambskin, conjoin with the softness of the cashmere for garments with clean lines and sharp cuts, which highlight the geometric forms within the movements of the wearer. Immaculate cuttings and refined materials for timeless structures, to be worn with extreme naturalness, at any moment.

Where does the inspiration come from?
It comes from lived experiences, and above all the results of a lifestle.

Do you have any icons that you might reference?
For years it was Madeleine Vionnet, today maybe Yohji Yamamoto.

Who are you thinking of when you’re designing?
Me, what I’m like and what I’d like to be.

In your opinion, where does “new” arise from?
From the past, it’s what I believe in most, you have to get completely naked to get dressed again in just the necessary. Maybe it’s a strange concept, but nowadays very few people reflect on the concept of harmony and beauty. I think that in the past this was an innate value within people – you only need to think of the architecture which has left an indelible mark on our cities, but most of all on nature and its perfection. My objective in fashion is to make something that has these characteristics, something timeless that won’t burn out in one season.

Is it possible to create something innovative nowadays?
Yes, I want to try to do precisely that.

And in what direction is your personal quest going?
Like I said before, a quest for harmony and the beautiful link to the concept of essentiality.

Do you have secret wishes you’d like to realise?
So very many, but very personal ones.

Isabel Benenato present her SS 2012 women collection during Milan Fashion Week september 2011
See more details about the Isabel Benenato presentation

Stefano Guerrini ©