Alessandro Dell’Acqua: Busiest Man in Fashion?
From its ashes, a phoenix is reborn. And there is no more accurate way to describe the lifelong career of Alessandro Dell’Acqua, who, now, at the peak of the world, is still very down to earth, still very real. Dell’Acqua’s fashion journey reveals a designer whose commitment to his art knows no limits and a determination to make it in an industry that tends to celebrate the new rather than the reliable. But it is his determination and drive that should be the real role model for those looking to create something beautiful out of their lives. He is the perfect example of how keeping your head down and doing the work will inevitably lead to success.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine
You graduated from the art institute in Naples in 1981, when fashion education had not yet been discovered as the gold mine that it is today. How did you get close to the fashion and design world?
When I was a teenager, I used to buy fashion magazines with my savings. I even took part in a contest for young designers by Lei magazine and I won. I participated again and again and each time I was the winner. The publishing house wrote me and they suggest me to move to Milan.
Was it tough, socially speaking, being a creative or rather a fashion designer in the Naples of the ‘80s?
As soon as I turned 18 years old, I moved to Milan and my first ever fashion job was at Enrica Massei, one of the most visionary Italian designers at the time.
Before founding N21 you had a not so positive experience with your eponymous brand founded in 1996. What would you change if you could go back in time? Would you let things go the way they actually went?
The final five years of my Alessandro Dell’Acqua brand were hellish, because my partners had no respect for me or for my work. They were even preparing to sell the whole business, me included, without saying a thing.When I found out, I decided to exit the Alessandro Dell’Acqua company once and for all. I would never again sell the majority of the shares of my company. Freedom is crucial otherwise creativity is compromised.
“INSPIRATION, FOR ME, IS ABOUT ATMOSPHERES AND SENSATIONS, REAL WOMEN AND THEIR ATTITUDE. I SEEK INSPIRATION FROM CINEMA, FROM THE STREET, EVEN FROM FABRICS” – ALESSANDRO DELL’ACQUA
Fashion: performing or permanent art?
Unfortunately, is more and more performing art, of the moment, due to passing trends.
As creative director of Rochas, how do you interpret the Parisian style from a Neapolitan perspective?
It’s important for me to keep in each collection the iconic Parisian character,
but I always like to add a contemporary twist through my taste for sensually modern elegance.
What is the woman you imagine when you design for Rochas and which one do you think of when designing for N21? Are they real people or just ideas?
The Rochas woman is definitely more eccentric: the finest and richest de- sign and fabrics, that belong to a couture heritage, are worn with an easy wear attitude. The N21 woman is practical, yet seductive at the same time: the collection reflects every women’s unique and individual will and overlaps today’s many forms of femininity.
Versailles or “Reggia di Caserta” (Royal Palace of Caserta)?
Reggia di Caserta, definitely more decadent and real.
Paris or Milan?
Milan. It’s the place where it all started for me. It feels like my native city, more than Naples.
If you design womenswear for a realistic, yet somehow ideal woman, how does it work for menswear?
It’s a collection of clothes that I like to call classic, basic, essential, necessary. I think of basics that correspond to classics, all without limiting the clothes to the type of use deriving from standard definitions and meanings.
How do you keep the identities of the brands you work for recognizable and yet distinctive?
The Rochas collections are created according to meticulous atelier procedures and fabrics archive play an important role in terms of inspiration.
Is there a Neapolitan, or a specific Alessandro Dell’Acqua personality you express through all your creations, independently form brands, companies, societies and targets?
My signature is clearly made by unexpected matches.
Which is the style rule that persists both in N21 and in Rochas?
The perfect mistake: through unexpected associations and twists I always like to give a new contemporary vision.
Where do you get inspiration for your collections, I mean in general… Is it from experiences that you lived or that you imagined?
When I’m designing, I don’t usually get inspired by a specific muse/artist or an art expression. Inspiration, for me, is about atmospheres and sensations, real women and their attitude. I seek inspiration from cinema, from the street, even from fabrics.
I go out for an easy “aperitivo” on with some friends. But today I want to feel different, like those metropolitan-chic, sophisticated, not stuffy girls I see on your runways. Is it possible to live the fantasy you have for the catwalk in real life, or will always be just a fantasy?
Everything today is more wearable. With Rochas I am after a simplified version of Rochas couture. The materials are glorious, but are crafted in a casual style. Also runway pieces must be mixed with the fast fashion ready to wear pieces and this combination is what makes fashion interesting.
You usually say you don’t like designing collections based on trends, but how do you keep them relevant without using them?
I try and concentrate more and more on a timeless elegance without seasons and distinction between day and night. I am focusing on traditional production methods and a modern attitude.
Social Media platforms are now crucial in order to give immediacy to the image of the dress, the shoes, the whole brand, and sometimes they are crucial in the shaping of the brand identity itself. In this sense, who is it to define the brand identity today: the designers who make it or the influencers who wear it?
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