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WALTER ALBINI AND HIS TIMES

On the occasion of Pitti Immagine Uomo 77th Edition, Florence, the Costume Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, will be the perfect location to celebrate the official launch of the book “Walter Albini and his times. All power to the imagination” (Collana Mode, Edizioni Fondazione Pitti Discovery, Marsilio Editori, pp225), on January 12th – 6/8 pm. The book is a Pitti Discovery Foundation project, edited and curated by Maria Luisa Frisa and Stefano Tonchi, who have been tracing Walter Albini’s work through pictures, videos and original materials from his years. It reconstructs a period that lived the establishment of fashion as basic element in representing contemporary society and culture and the definitive decline of the couture atelier with the rise of democratic fashion with the development of high quality series production. PROPRIETEXCLUSIVE realized an interview with the two book curators, who developed the central elements of Albini’s icon accomplishing a wide overview on his time, next to others international protagonists such as Halston, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent and Ossie Clark.

P. How did the project of the book start?

F-T. The book focuses on the character of Walter Albini and acts like an exhibition: there are some original drawings, magazines pages from that period, photographs, Albini’s statements, besides some pictures of his clothes, here re-interpreted by a young stylist. These different kind of material, brought together in some  uncommon ways and graphically treated, let a specific point of view come to surface: not a chronological paraphrase of the designer creative path, but an observation carried out over the decade by Walter Albini, that witnessed the establishment of fashion as a basic element in representing contemporary culture and the final overtaking of the ateliers for a prêt-à-porter overstatement.

P. Which was, in your opinion, Albini’s style formula?

F-T. In 1979 Albini commented on his spring-summer collection: “For me, each outfit tells a story, of love, of anger, of violence. Each one is a moment, a person, a place, and each has a role, like in a theater. To change clothes you have to change your attitude and spirit, and take on a new role. Every time, every season, every collection……”

P. Aesthetically speaking, how would you describe his work?

F-T. Style, pastiche, excess. These are the terms used by Stephen Gundle to define glamour, in his recent study committed to this phenomenon.

P. Which was his relationshisp with colours and how did he intend the relationship between color and matter?

F-T. He used to reconstruct his imagineries. Colors and matters where fuctional elements to draw the scenery, a place of his imagination which could go from the cinema of the 30s, to orient or decò.

P. How could you describe the relation he put between creativity and technology?

F-T. He was experimenting mostly on woven design: making imagery, in particular when he succeded in tranlsating textil patterns into silk prints. He’s more a graphic desginer rather than a fashion designer. Eclectic.

P. Albini’s creations were pretty fanciful, like an art multiple: prints, cuts, silhouette and inner decorations. Albini was… an artist, an artisan or an inventor?

F-T. A designer and a stylist, more than everything. An interpreter of fashion through his obsessions and his sensuality, coincidently nostalgic, pop and post-modern.

P. Which is the most striking thing of his work?

F-T. Some of his collections presented in Milan in art galleries. In particular the spring-summer collection 1977: a “non-collection” composed by outfits all born by assembling other items belonged to designer, journalists and photographers friends. No creation belonging to him. A method statement.

P. After he passed away in 1993, his style lesson kept living in the work of Krizia, Armani, Lagerfeld and more. Which one could be Albini’s proper style heir?

F-T. I would say none of them. And everybody. Albini’s intuitions are many, he tried to develop all of them. Who came after him preferred to concentrate in one direction, to become a brand.

P. Try to divide designers between innovators, who left a clear sign in social behaviour, and other ones who just copied good ideas as adaptors. Which one of these would fit Albini?

F-T. Maybe really “innovative” designers are the ones that know to be excellent “adaptors”. Fashion aims at taking possession of everything, it adopts specific functioning mechanisms that allow to move precisely in that direction. Albini was a master in swinging between innovation and recover, appropriation and interpretation, impulse towards sperimentation and retrò obsession. It’s the kind of characters we should focus on. And this is the attitude to transmit to new designers.

P. If Albini were a perfume, how would it be?

F-T. Old fashioned, with a pinch of acid.

P. Albini guess the total look relevance. What did this mean for the fashion industry?

F-T. The eighties. Brand extension e brand lifestyle, then the proliferation of accessories. And the consequent hard path to demolish, altough partially, the total look project in the following years. But this is a way that fashion, from his inside, was needed to take. To survive.

P. Which is the lesson of style that Walter left us?

F-T. “I’m interisted in giving method directions, both designing and using other’s thing. We must learn the freedom to dress ourselves out of any scheme. Consumerism produces objects, not styles. I look around, I choose, combine and suggest.”. In 1977 he said this. In its precision, it seems a sharp statement to foresee future fashion movements.

Elisa Lusso

Walter Albini – Photography Gian Paolo Barbieri

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Vogue Ottobre 1971

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Vogue Ottobre 1972

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Linea Italiana n°45 1974

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