By Serena Belcastro
This past Milan fashion week, we fell in love with the young Viennese Debutants who were reinterpreted in a contemporary light by Arthur Arbesser for his FW15 presentation. A mix of shiny and opaque textures, of volume, silhouettes and colors that blended perfectly with the atmosphere created by Arthur together with the architect Luca Cipelletti at the historical Salone Dei Tessuti Galtrucco, and further enhanced by the notes of Shubert expertly played by pianist Antoinette van Zabner. In this profile we ask the finalist of the second edition of the LVMH Prize to share his inspiration behind this beautiful collection and his suggestive presentation, and to describe his experience in Paris which placed him among the final eight for the prestigious award.
During the presentation for your FW 2015-16 collection in Milan, you honored your city, Vienna, with a contemporary reworking of the debutante ball. How big of an influence are your Viennese roots and how much does Milan, your present hometown, influence you?
Vienna will always been a source of inspiration to me, in its attitudes, traditions and in the precise lines of Viennese design of the beginning of the 20th century.
I love everything that is “old”, when it means traditions, rituals and habits, and Vienna is full of all these: reading a book at a café for hours on end, the balls, the parties, Christmas celebrations… I adore all of this, but at a distance!
In Milan I live and “love”… I have my new “family” here and I feel at home. It has become my city by my own doing. What I love here are design and all the hidden beauty.
This is the third time you collaborate with architect Luca Cipeletti for the setting of your presentation. Can you tell us how this creative synergy was born and how it has evolved?
Luca is first of all a very dear friend and a person I love to talk to and I’m always curious to know his opinion on things. I really appreciate his taste and his ideas. We do a bit of a back and forth: I will say something and he will say something else and ideas and worlds are created.
I think collaborations are essential in the creative world, when you’re together you can create more interesting ideas. Presentations are a very important moment to me, I always try to tell a story, to show something more than clothes. I really cherish the fact that I can “have fun” while I work because I can confront myself with different ideas and minds, different but always on the same wavelength, like with Luca. It’s a very fun and stimulating moment.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Often the inspirations for a collection are born during a conversation. I am a very curious person, I love asking questions and I always want to know everything. If someone, for example, is describing a house to me, I want to know how this house is made to the slightest detail. So I always hear something new, and later I will do more research, finding something more or another artist. Let’s say I am a sponge and I simply love all the stories that life is made of, the stories behind music, furniture, houses or a painting.
What were your specific influences for your last collection?
I was in Vienna over Christmas and I watched the exhibition “Ways to Modernism: Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos and their Impact”. Hoffmann and Loos are Vienna’s two most important architects. It was all so beautiful and exactly the mood I wanted to bring to this collection, so I totally concentrated on their world.
You worked at Giorgio Armani for a long time, and then you felt the need to found your own brand. What did you take from this experience and what is the message that you want to express through the creations of your own brand?
The 7 years I spent at Giorgio Armani were such an important learning experience. They were happy and good years on a personal level too, because Armani is really Milanese at its core and as such a great place for a foreigner to immerse himself in the Italian world.
I think it’s very useful for a designer that wants to launch his own line to have a good working experience beforehand. You learn a lot and at the same time it’s also good for the big companies to have some young energy around!
With my clothes I want to expose my world. I think today it’s more important than ever for a young designer to develop an unique, personal voice and to find his own language, and I really hope I can communicate mine.
You represented Italy in Paris, for the second edition of the LVMH Prize for rising designers. Can you tell us something about this experience?
It was an unbelievable experience! I was deeply honored to be chosen, since more than 1000 young brands had signed up and only 26 were selected. Thanks to the LVMH Prize you really meet “the world” of fashion: from stylists to journalists and to the most important visionaries of fashion. You could really feel a global energy there. The most interesting aspect was that people listened to you and they really wanted to get to know you – I had some amazing conversations, from a few chats in German with Karl Lagerfeld to a long dialogue with Cathy Horn, whom I think highly of.
Since our last conversation you have been chosen as one of the 8 finalist for The LVMH Prize. How do you feel and how will you approach this final phase of the competition.
Being chosen by the extremely difficult jury of 45 industry experts that decided the eight finalists is already a surprise victory for me.
I am slowly realizing what this all means, and I have goose bumps because I’m so happy!
The LVMH creative directors that will make the final decision on May 22 are highly esteemed, they’re more like gods than humans, and the only thing that I can do when I’m in front of them is to be as natural and normal as possible.