An Assault of Art with Roberto Capucci
Apotheosized by contemporary designers for his ingenious silhouettes and exquisite use of form, color, and materials, Roberto Capucci describes his work as an assault of art, beauty, color, emotion, music, nature, and poetry.
A version of this exclusive article first appeared in the pages of the 14th issue of ODDA Magazine.
“When I draw, I think of the future,” he said. “ There are transgressive costumes, with geometric exactness. And when I think of fashion, I think of art without adjectives.”
Born in Rome during the 1930s, he attended art school at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Florence where he studied alongside Mazzacurati, Avenali and Libero De Libero. Learning the skills of his trade, he got his first taste for the industry at the tender age of 20. Once blacklisted from a fashion show held by a local businesswoman because other participating courtiers felt upstaged and overshadowed, the press caught wind of this terrible indignation and demanded an exclusive. Playing his cards right, he showed them a stunning collection and gained immediate recognition selling his gowns almost instantly.
Now known as the “boy wonder” of Italian fashion, he took his fabric sculptures, with forms, colors, and captivating silhouettes, to the storefronts of Italy in the 1950s, eventually opening his first atelier on the opulent via Sistina in Rome. And not more than a year later, he befriended the great Giovanni Battista Giorgini, the godfather of all things Italian, further elevating his reputation as one of the best talents in Italian fashion. He even created gowns for Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson and Jacqueline Kennedy.
In 1962, after receiving accolades from his peers Pierre Cardin, James Galanos and Christian Dior and winning the Boston Fashion Award for his Linea a Scatola (Box Line) collection, which was a study on shapes and volumes, he set his sights on Paris and the bustling streets nestled along the Rue Cambon. It was there that he created a stunning series of work that featured both classical and experimental collections using modern and revolutionary materials like plastic, plexiglass, metal and hi-tech fibers to embellish his pieces. Now more than ever, with his works mimicking a Pop Art style and cunning are for extravagance, his style became more refined and technically complicated, often highlighting the abstract, colorful, and flamboyant designs prevalent throughout the genre. And although he was rather capable as a creator of traditional wears, he predominantly focused on the over indulgence of the senses rather than simplicity, taking art and turning it into something couture.
So with the knowledge taken from the fashion’s capital in hand, he then returned to Rome in 1968 where he continued his work as couturier and artist experimenting with new materials, even drawing costumes for Silvana Mangano and Terence Stamp of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s movie “Teorema.” Now devoting a majority of his time to the study of artistic research, he broke from the traditional fashion schedule and started showing his collections on an ad-hoc basis.
Often cited as “a study in form,” his work, largely inspired by art, architecture, and nature, was one where his legendary sculpture- dresses, including his seminal 1978 “Colonna” silhouette, based on the Doric column, as well as his series of sculptures from 2007 honoring the city of Florence, is seen and studied with enthusiasm. It’s one that the press at the time lauded as a body of work that highlighted the “vigor, imagination, and uninhibited originality” of a great designer. He’s even been compared to the work of Leon Bakst’s designs for the Ballets Russes.
Still embracing his elegant yet rebellious use of shapes, materials and colors, he upheld his namesake in design and went on to create a magical array of wearable art that constantly pushed the limits. As an organizer of exhibitions, he turned heads throughout the industry, finally setting up the Fondazione Roberto Capucci in 2005 to preserve and archive his collections. In 2007, he opened the Roberto Capucci Foundation Museum in Florence to assist in the process.
As a designer, he crossed boundaries and set precedence with his unique style. As an artist, he transcended the status quo. As an archivist, he set out to recover the identity of the Italian traditions of refinement, style and passion for beauty. All in all, throughout his efforts to encourage new and innovative ideas, we are reminded by the man who started out by working as a designer for Emilio Schuberth, the “tailor of the stars,” that by demanding a total assault on the senses with his one-off creations, one can visit the future while at the same time reaffirming the supremacy of quality all in an effort to espouse the importance of experimentation in fashion.
As a creative director, marketing manager and fashion editor, Kyle has
developed brand identities and creative strategies for a variety of
businesses and written on a variety of fashion topics for ODDA and Lab
A-4 magazines. With his background in advertising, he helps his
clients understand complex ideas, motivates them to action and
cooperates with media outlets to carry out successful brand
strategies. But the madness doesn’t stop there. He is also a recipient
of numerous international industry awards hosted by AVA, MarCom,
Hermes and GDUSA, and a judge of several international awards
competitions where he competently utilizes his passion for meaningful,
quality design to give constructive criticism and insightful design
advice to his peers.
As a creative director, marketing manager and fashion editor, Kyle has developed brand identities and creative strategies for a variety of businesses and written on a variety of fashion topics for ODDA and Lab A-4 magazines. With his background in advertising, he helps his clients understand complex ideas, motivates them to action and cooperates with media outlets to carry out successful brand strategies. But the madness doesn’t stop there. He is also a recipient of numerous international industry awards hosted by AVA, MarCom, Hermes and GDUSA, and a judge of several international awards competitions where he competently utilizes his passion for meaningful, quality design to give constructive criticism and insightful design advice to his peers.
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