My most careful readers may have noticed that this month the interview did not come out on 23rd as usual; it was a very intense period and this time, despite having tried, I could not stand by the appointment but no harm done, here we are, running out of March, with Alessandro Biasi, founder and creative director of A-lab Milano, whom Aquafil introduced me in the last interview.
As always when I start my interviews with a designer, I like to know the beginnings and above all something particular that “mapped out the path” to get to do what it does. Would you like to “tell” yourself, Alessandro Biasi?
Hi Barbara, thanks for this chat on the topic of sustainability that I feel very close to. When someone asks me how I started I smile, because my memories go to my first experiments with scissors, needle and thread (or, more often, glue and lots of adhesive tape!). I was a lively child who liked to imagine fantastic worlds and adventures and my ‘collections’ were designed for the characters I loved to play: samurai, ninja and lots of superheroes, with a special place for Batman! Of that phase I still carry with me the love for “knowing how to do”, for “getting my hands dirty”, always putting myself in the first place in the creation of clothes so as not to lose sight of what I want to tell.
After that phase of play and experimentation, several years have passed and I found myself (once again almost as a joke) making sketches for a friend of mine who was attending a fashion school at that time. I was attending an art school but soon I wanted to experience different worlds from the academy. And the occasion came when, seeing my drawings, one of this friend’s teachers wanted to meet me. From that moment on, thanks to her, even though I had never been a fashion lover in a literal sense, I discovered the purest and most creative side, especially through the work of John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, in which I found many ties with the world I came from. After attending the NABA (New Academy of Fine Arts) in Milan, everything then developed in an almost natural way. The decision to found a brand that reflected the idea of a woman I had in mind was a trial that was once again experimentation. For my graduation thesis I had organized a working group, a creative collective, that worked in synergy to create collections made up of unique, numbered and non-repeatable pieces. The atmosphere was that of a contemporary atelier, a laboratory of ideas that has remained my greatest reference. Once I graduated I felt that that group of people had created much more than a case study for a thesis and I wanted to give life to A-lab Milano, a place, before a brand, in which to express my visions, supported by a continuous comparison with other people and different disciplines.
A great evolution! And about your creations, on the website you describe them as “clear architectures”, designed as if they were a building designed on the body. And then you talk about the “natural and the artificial” that coexist. Will you translate it into clothes, fabrics, textures, details?
Those words are from a writer, as well as a very dear friend, who gave me some precious lines on my work, words in which I find myself because I think they express the key points of my research. Architecture translates into a dress when, while satisfying the needs and shapes of the body, it enhances and defines them. By ‘clear’ I mean immediate, vivid, without noisy and distinctly decorative overlays. I want my clothes to be complex for those who know the subject, the art of tailoring and the history of costume, but immediate and communicative even for an inexperienced observer. I have always loved the contrasts of different elements and I like to combine the natural luxury of cottons and silks and high performance technical fabrics. This happened when many years ago I experienced the use of neoprene, a fabric stolen from sport, embroidering it and enriching it with traditional decoration techniques, but also recently with the experimentation of digital printing on ECONYL®.
ECONYL, in fact. How did the collaboration with Aquafil begin and what have been the goals achieved? Do you have other projects in mind?
The collaboration with Aquafil was born from some research I was doing with my studio for the concept of a project with which in 2018 I participated in the selections for the Green Carpet Fashion Awards of Eco-age and of the National Chamber of Fashion. I was looking for a sustainable fabric that did not present the typical raw appearance of plant-based fabrics. Furthermore, I did not like the idea that something that is often achieved through intensive soil use was considered sustainable. I then came across Aquafil and immediately fell in love with the technical aspect of ECONYL. Recovering some of the resourcefulness of when you are a student, I got in touch with the company and found an enthusiastic interlocutor in Aquafil. Although we did not reach the final stages of the competition, we strongly wanted to keep the collaboration alive and immediately set the guidelines for a new project together. I therefore designed two dresses to be made in ECONYL for the Green Carpet Fashion Awards evening, one of which was worn by Roberta Bonazzi, Giulio’s splendid wife (CEO & Chairman of Aquafil) and the other by Valentina Siragusa, my great friend and muse, with whom we also created a video project supported by Aquafil. But the collaboration did not stop and ECONYL fully became part of my collection for autumn winter 2019/20, creating a capsule of five very strong printed pieces made in the atelier. Also part of this family is a dress that I always made for Roberta Bonazzi, who took part in the exclusive gala linked to sustainability and organized by Maison de Mode in Los Angeles, during the recently concluded Oscar week. On the future I prefer not to overpromise but I certainly feel Aquafil a precious ally.
In addition to your collaboration with Aquafil, what is your commitment to sustainability?
I can say that my commitment to sustainability is a daily goal. Often we do not realize that simple gestures like turning off the light or turning off the water tap while brushing our teeth are small signs of respect for our planet. In my work I try to select certified origin fabrics and to give each piece the weight of something that occupies an extra place in the world, a world that is so full of clothes that it should only be enriched by truly special items.
Excellent answer, which I fully agree with. Alessandro, will we be able to talk about eco-à-porter one day?
I am sure of it, because sustainability today is not only an objective but above all a great necessity. Fashion has always been the most sensitive litmus test of social changes and today it must also deal with climatic ones, of which it is partially responsible. I know I am in good company among the designers of my generation who are committed to designing a more conscious and sustainable future.
Of course you are and we at eco-à-porter like to discover you every day. Alessandro, I also thank you for this nice chat, keep me updated on your sustainable creations and collaborations!
As for the next ‘Monthly interview’, I dispense with Alessandro Biasi from the ‘nomination’ because on April 23th the Fashion Revolution week will start and we have a special interview in mind. Surprise! 😜