Switzerland-based Italian fashion and knitwear designer Alberto Incanuti who collaborates with Filati Biagioli Modesto introduces us today the S/S 14 knitwear trends through the samples he created for the company.
Regular and fine yarns in natural blends of linen and silk, cashmere and lambswool were employed to create ripples, mottled, chain and beehive-like effects in bright, intense and bold colours including yellow and lime. Black was instead used for asymmetrical graphic lines and geometrically Constructivist elements or to create fun twists on conceptual tops-cum-vests.
Incanuti, who also works for other companies as fashion designer, anticipates in the interview some very interesting news: the technique to make “digital” jumpers may just be around the corner, thanks to a system developed in collaboration with Italian architect Alberto Grassi. Yarns and architecture as keys to reinvent the world of knitwear? Count us in.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Filati Biagioli Modesto?
Alberto Incanuti: I've been working in the fashion industry for 25 years now and I started a collaboration with Franca Biagioli 12 years ago. Franca is a very sensitive woman, and we work very well together. She is very receptive when it comes to fashion and cultural initiatives that's why Filati Biagioli Modesto's stands always feature well-designed displays. We also collaborate with an architect, Alberto Grassi, with whom we have developed a great working relationship. We conceive designing the new yarn collection, coming up with the knitwear samples and with a concept or a theme for the stand as parts of the same process, as parts of the artistic direction as a whole. We usually set an aim and an objective while working on the stand and we always manage to reach it. I have worked also with other yarn companies showcasing during Pitti Filati, but there were seasons when I wasn't too sure about the final look of the display, something that never happened with Filati Biagioli Modesto.
What's the trend for the S/S 14 yarns and knitwear?
Alberto Incanuti: We moved from a precise inspiration - recolouring nature - that's where those yellows and limes come from. There are quite a few artists who recoloured nature in their works in a fun sort of way. In our case nature was embodied by the yarns and by natural fibres such as cashmere that works pretty well also as a material for summer knits. We then proceeded to recolouring the yarns, working with intarsia and appliqued motifs, felting the garments, using natural blends and mixing cashmere, linen and silk to create energetic effects that are usually difficult to obtain with carded yarns. We created knits inspired by sport and freetime, but added to the offer also more structured pieces, garments that featured stitches with a certain degree of three-dimensionality about them or sculpted the yarns as if they were raw materials like wood.
Why are the knitwear samples seen during yarn fairs often more desirable than the ones that we see a few months later in the shops?
Albeto Incanuti: Because the samples are developed in harmony with the yarn manufacturer or with a network of mills and yarns producers that have often been following a designer for years and that have literally absorbed the style and modus operandi of that specific designer. These companies are therefore capable of interpreting an idea as best as they can employing the highest technologies and standards available.
What happens usually to the samples showcased at the stand?
Alberto Incanuti: They are part of a wider archive at Filati Biagioli Modesto. The samples are usually made so that designers can take inspiration from them or they are sent to style offices of fashion houses and brands so that clients can understand better what the yarn would look like in a finished product, or can see the volumes and stitches that could be achieved by using that specific yarn. We do have quite a big archive at the moment and we would love to organise an event around that at some point.
The Filati Biagioli Modesto booth also featured quite striking installations with digital images projected on plain men and womenswear jumpers, can you tell us more about the system behind the installation?
Alberto Incanuti: Together with architect Alberto Grassi we put together a technique that allows a designer to project images on knits and garments. We see this system - that will be patented soon - as very useful for style offices or fashion schools since it helps deciding where a drawing can be set before printing it, and it also allows to adjust its position on the garment or to transfer the drawing directly on the garment from a computer desktop.
Do you have other fashion-related projects at the moment?
Alberto Incanuti: I'm first and foremost a fashion designer - I design men and womenswear lines for Aimo Richly and Mauro Grifoni, quite popular brands sold in shops such as DAAD Dantone in Milan.
As a fashion designer working with his own team for other companies, what satisfies you the most?
Alberto Incanuti: When it comes to the samples for Biagioli Modesto, the most satifying thing is to see how people who may not have the technical knowledge about yarns perceive the final designs. I think reaching out to the final consumer is the key for many contemporary fashion designers. I produced my own collections and sold them in shops in Tokyo for example and the products arrived there without being promoted and pushed by any third parties. I realised then that the shop owners are more knowledgeable than the people above them and the consumers are even more knowledgeable than the shop owners, as they usually know what they want and eventually manage to find it.
Do you feel that Italian fashion has lost its appeal?
Alberto Incanuti: There is this constant dilemma about the so-called Made in Italy and people thinking that Italian designers should just work in ther own country. Yet if nobody wants to invest money upon us, there is no point in doing so. In the last few years the Italian fashion industry lost a lot or prominence, from tradeshows to Milan Fashion Week, and it mainly happened because the system got old and nobody really worked towards seriously modernising it. Buyers who went to Milan wanted to find specific things and services and they didn't, so they diverted their attention somewhere else. Italy has a strong potential, but we must make sure craftsmanship and industrial knowledge are passed onto the younger generations to avoid losing further resources and save key manufacturing districts from the crisis.
Should we be concerned over the lack of research in the fashion industry?
Alberto Incanuti: There were cuts to research funding to cap production costs and this resulted in a lowering of professional standards. We didn't immediately felt the consequences since we rested on the strength of the Made in Italy, but we are beginning to feel them now. So lack of research is definitely a problem. But I also think we must reshift the focus on the product rather than on the people in the front row as sometimes the media talk and write more about them than about the actual designs and this has been another damaging attitude.
What about knitwear instead, do you feel there are enough young designers willing to work in this field?
Alberto Incanuti: Knitwear has always been considered the Cinderella of the situation, since it has often been seen as something secondary that complements a collection. I think we should be promoting and supporting it a bit more, liberating it from its strictly trade yarn context so that younger generations of designers will get not just interested in it, but excited by it.
Images 2-13 courtesy of Alberto Incanuti Studio
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