Monday, 7 February 2011

LCF MA Graduate Showcase: Matteo Molinari

Last Wednesday saw the first crop of fashion design graduates showcase their talents with the London College of Fashion MA show taking place in the ornate rooms of the V&A. It was a true celebration of emerging menswear design talent and certainly whet this blogger's appetite for the year ahead. To celebrate the cream of incoming crop of graduates we aim to speak to each of our favourite students to learn more about their collections and their experiences at LCF. First up, Matteo Molinari.

It was Matteo Molinari's crocheted tailoring and reimagined classics that made the biggest impact on the graduation catwalk and ultimately saw him walk away with the grand prize. His highly desirable and beautifully tailored collection fused modern tailoring with traditional craftsmanship to stunning effect. Drawing inspiration from his childhood fascination for the small dots, lines and circles printed onto white paper that his mother and sisters used to create crochet lace. Here, Molinari created patterns which were converted into pieces of crochet and put into panels of this largely sophisticated black and white pieces. This complex technique of combining crochet into the luxurious menswear fabric creates a dichotomy between what is traditionally seen as masculine and feminine. Here we talk to the design talent to learn about his experiences at LCF and his hopes for the future...


Applying the finishing touches to Matteo Molinari's prize winning collection. 
Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan

SS: Firstly, congratulations on more than playing your part in a dazzling, menswear rich MA show. How did it feel seeing your finished designs on the catwalk and ultimately winning the main prize?
Matteo Molinari: I felt honoured to have been chosen to be part of the V&A show. It’s a real event with press, buyers and huge media coverage. When I heard my name I was shocked and very happy at the same time.

SS: Describe the moment you realized you wanted to be a menswear designer?
Matteo Molinari: During adolescence I started to be interested in fashion, but it was a very long path for me to come to the complete acceptance that I wanted to be a designer. My previous degrees were a Communication BA and an MA in Philosophy of the Languages. It was only after these experiences that I started to work as a freelance design consultant and then began my Fashion Design and Technology MA.

Applying the finishing touches to Matteo Molinari's prize winning collection. 
Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan

SS: What attracted you to the LCF MA course in particular? What was the best thing about your course? And the worst?
Matteo Molinari: LCF is famous for being well connected with the industry and well known for the high level of technical skills you can learn at this college. The tutors, lecturers and the technicians are very well trained and experienced, I learn so much from everyone of them and my collection is a reflection of my knowledge path. The only bad thing about my Masters is that there are so many things to do in so little time. Fifteen months is such a short time and this pushes you to work 24/7.

SS: Can you talk us through the inspiration for the collection?
Matteo Molinari: Usually young designers are experimenting more with shapes, extreme styles and eye-catching proposals and weird looks. Keeping this in mind, I tried to be different and began with the traditional male wardrobe, working on the essentials of menswear: the suits, the trench-coat, the coat and the white shirt. I changed proportions and I elaborated a personal silhouette: sharp for tailoring, structured and architectural for the coats adding the cross-gender twist of using handmade lace in a graphic and masculine way.

I’ve been focused on tailoring and hand-made crafts because these elements are a huge part of my Italian heritage. It sounds like a stereotype but I pay so much attention in the pattern cutting process to get the shapes I wanted. The silhouette is distinctive and the cut of the clothes accurate and thoughtful. The quality of the clothes was a central element. The structure of the collection reflects it: just tailored pieces, coats, trench coats, shirts and high waist trousers, no fancy or over styled outfits.

Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan

SS: What was your starting point?
Matteo Molinari: I started analyzing the meaning and the implication of symbols in the actual garment design.

SS: How would you describe the collection in your own words?
Matteo Molinari: Black, tailored, sinister, handmade, Psychic Youth, crochet lace, architectural shapes, androgynous, cut, cropped, NON, reworking men's wardrobe basics, European folk traditions.

Stunning detailing.
Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan

SS: Personally, I love the balance struck between traditional tailoring and textile techniques rarely used in menswear. One of the best examples of this is the crochet back tuxedo jacket. Could you talk us through some of the techniques used, for example the hand made crochet and your attraction to them?
Matteo Molinari: I was amused by the notation used to transcript the movements necessary to produce a piece of crochet lace. Small dots, lines and circles are printed on a white page to create intricate and beautiful pieces of work, if correctly interpreted by a skilled artist. I developed my patterns starting from the crochet panelling. I used crochet not like an embellishment but as a important part of the pattern. Crochet is a feminine technique, a knowledge shared between mothers and daughters in Italy. Doing menswear based on it pushed me to reflect about a lot of social and cultural implications related to gender. Not merely cultural concept of masculine and feminine but differences between art and craft and the unnatural.

SS: What type of man can you see wearing it?
Matteo Molinari: Confident and cerebral with a melancholic spirit.

A closer look
Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan

SS: I know this is difficult question to answer but have you got a favourite, anything that you were most proud of?
Matteo Molinari: The crochet back tuxedo jacket.

SS:Finally, what would you like to achieve in 2011 and beyond?
Matteo Molinari: Be free to decide what I care and what I don’t. Continue doing clothes for my SS 2012 collection. Be passionate in what I’m doing.

Two of Molinari's models mingling with the other collections.
Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan

In addition to creating a collection that makes your heart skip a beat or two, Molinari's desire to breathe fresh life and excitement in to traditional skills and techniques should be applauded. The detailing of the pattern cutting, the sharp fit and the mixture of Italian manufacture, japanese fabrics, hand stitching and crochet produced by close family members makes this collection both luxurious and desirable but also hugely personal and emotional. I'll leave you with these fantastic look book shots by Christopher Agius Burke...

Photography by Christopher Agius Burke. Hair and makeup by Pace Chen.

Matteo Molinari’s collection will be available to order and a line of sunglasses and glasses is already available. I just can't wait to see this talent develop.


David Watts said...

I think he is a very promising menswear design talent and it will be interesting to see how he develops his design aesthetic. The spectacles are very cool indeed!


Martin said...

Now that is innovation, super inspiring! Great article Steve/EJ, looking forward to the rest!

Style Salvage Steve said...

David Watts and Martin: The menswear design talent on show this year's LCF MA show was remarkable. 14/22 of the students selected were menswear. I just find that stat so exciting!


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