Sustainable is fashion that includes and that has no icons, because every body is a soul and every soul has the right to be a body. Of woman, preferably. At least according to Denise Bonapace who just can not think of men when she creates. “Let’s take care of them in private,” she confesses. For this multifaceted creative, fashion is woman, like home, which she has in the mountains of dark granite imbued with water from the Adamello glacier and the white peaks of the Brenta Dolomites. Her family has been living there for generations, and there she comes back as soon as she can. In her Ithaca. The rest of the time she lives between Milan and New York, where she teaches and exhibits her creations, which she then sells. Her collections are sets of undefined unique pieces; they are clothes, in the most practical or philosophical sense of the term but also things to inhabit, therefore houses, in which one takes refuge and through which one communicates.

Sketches by Denise Bonapace –
Photo credits: Pierluigi Anselmi, Lorenza Daverio

Denise does not want to be labeled because, she says, labels are useless and even harmful. However, it would be difficult defining her. Trained as a designer with a degree in industrial design, she becomes a consultant, teacher, artist and fashion designer. She builds up a brand that bears her name and makes only knitwear; because, she emphasizes, knitting opens new horizons. “You always start with a thread, but you can create amazing things“. And maybe knitwear even smells a little bit home and wisdom, like the women of all shapes, whom she photographs for her projects. ‘Senz’età’, for example. Garments created for bodies no longer young, who revealed to her that at some point in life the sleeves become too long and there is no longer the place to keep the tissue that you always want to have at your nose. And here is that creativity serves the person. And magically a bubble of mohair-silk at the end of a sleeve becomes box or, unrolled, muff. The garment in this way becomes a place to live. This is the revolution that Denise pursues and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (Naba) in Milan.

‘Senz’età’ by Denise Bonapace – Photo credits: Pierluigi Anselmi, Lorenza Daverio


People have needs and I work to satisfy them”. According to Denise, fashion must serve people understood as “togetherness of physicality, thoughts, impulses and desires“, to create a constant relationship between the garment and the body that inhabits it, a body that must not have canons and measures anymore, because beauty is, as Eco wrote, polytheistic.

An all-round creative Denise Bonapace, who does not look at the watch, does not follow trends or deadlines, so her creations are never out of fashion. Her website is both an art gallery and a personal diary full of folds and hidden corners. Windows, wardrobes and corridors, a house in fact. Like the pockets of clothes in which invites us to browse. The titles of many of her installations tell already stories, almost fantastic tales in which each one creates his own final. And the same happens for her creations, transformable clothes, which adapt to the needs of the wearer. Never vice versa.

Becoming is therefore at the basis of Denise’s artistic philosophy, who speaks through clothes. In a very creative way. See for example the collection of ‘Mancanti’, the speaking gloves or fabrics that come to life together with the body, becoming blouses, jackets, dresses, hats. ‘Àmano’, ‘Àcapo’, ‘Il quadrato’. She plays on the forms and gives advice for use, but without giving orders. With a hat, for example, you can wrap your shoulders. 


Curiosity, however, does not steal space for utility, because the garments created by Denise are indeed forms of art but remain at the service of the person in his totality, body and soul and in his relationship with the surrounding space. And only on this road fashion can have a sustainable future.

                                                                               Novella Di Paolo

PS: it is a pleasant case that this article follows the review of the book ‘Re-dressing’ by Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, which talks about clothes that become house and that is molded on the body according to its needs.

Articolo precedente‘Ri-vestire’: revolutionary strategies around the re-construction of clothes
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