11.25.2012

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GIOVANNI CAVAGNA

I discovered Giovanni Cavagna's work through my Danish friend Martin Andersen's blog www.fashionfavourite.blogspot.com earlier this year. Since then, I have been eagerly following his eponymous line. During the menswear shows in July, I randomly bumped into his showroom in the Marais district in Paris. At that time, he was sharing the space with Toshi, a talented young Japanese designer behind the label Fagassent who I met briefly at Tranoi. I also got a chance to meet Paolo Silvano who does PR work for the multi-talented Cavagna. Since I wanted to know more about Cavagna's work I recently contacted Paolo and asked him if I could do this exclusive interview for my blog. Thankfully, he eagerly agreed.
So who is Giovanni Cavagna? Well, Cavagna was born in the historic Bergamo. Then, at 16, he moved to Milan, Italy's fashion capital, where the Italian designer mastered the art of haute couture, knitwear and pret-a-porter. Unlike other designers, Cavagna has an almost engineering approach to the construction of his garments. He puts emphasis on research and experimentation. He also prefers utilizing sustainable and unusual materials in creating garments that flawlessly complement the human anatomy. For the record, the acclaimed designer has collaborated with some of the most notable maisons in Italian and international fashion such as Max Mara, Les Copains, Gruppo Miroglio and Malo Tricot, to name a few.
It is, indeed, a pleasure to feature Giovanni Cavagna on my blog. Special thanks to Paolo Silvano, and Maria Anna Campadello for warmly accommodating me. Hope to see you guys in Milan next Spring Summer shows. And do send my warmest regards to Giovanni Cavagna whose work never fails to inspire me and his legion of followers!
1. What is your design philosophy?
The continuing evolution of my work, never neglects the harmony of composition, asymmetries are controlled but prone to extremes and leads me to create works of art which look like they have been stroked, thanks to that sublime patience typical of the artists character and thanks to that exclusive intellectualism of those who create an essence out of a concept.
2. Can you describe your latest collection? What is the inspiration behind it?
The new image of man of my menswear collection for Autumn/Winter 2012-2013 grew from intensive experiment which led me produce seriously innovative clothing both as far as fabrics and volumes are concerned.
My research always starts from the yarn.
Everything starts from "him".
"He" is the unit of measurement from which all my collections develop and come to life.
Starting from the yarn, I develop new researches for excellent raw materials that would allow me to work in an eclectic way.
My goal is giving life to new and innovative types of materials/fabric/textile and giving them irregular and avant-garde shapes.
Absolutely revolutionary creations have come out of his workshop, in which tradition only exists in the workmanship of the finishes and in the closest attention given to the handmade details. The colors are always various shades of black, from total black through shades of grey to blackcurrant. Tones perfectly suited to these new textures and shapes. 
I deconstruct, separate, take everything apart from its normal order and remixes and transforms into a re-constructed garment which brings with it a new idea of man.
The deconstruction of the conventional is an absolutely post-modern idea and my art is an excellent demonstration of how to conceive fashion as an object of culture rather than a mere item of vanity, in which a new image of man is completely in tune with the present but with one eye on the future.
 
3. What are the main pieces? Do you have any personal favorites?
In my opinion, strong pieces always fit personal favorites.
And they usually are the first and the last pieces because they represent the starting point and the final evolution of the collection.
The main pieces have to express the concept and the philosophy of the designer in the best way, for instance a cashmere coat that is not a coat, or a cloak, but is something one wraps in to get protection and, therefore, it is about creating new proportions that fit this concept.
Attention: It is all about the "wrapping in" and not about the "covering". This is the story! 
4. Whenever you are conceptualizing a new collection what are the preparations do you normally do?
Nothing too complicated!
It's a matter of different steps.
First, I take care of the choice of color, and then everything else comes: threads/yarn, materials, volumes, silhouettes and details.

5. Which is more important for you the Process or the Final Product?
The PROCESS, absolutely! It's during the process that the soul of the final product develops and comes to life.
6. Unlike the typical fashion designer, you like to play with different materials and discover new techniques. So far what has been your greatest discovery?
Oh, there are so many…from the spun that lights up in the darkness to the thermo-active material  that changes color in contact with the natural body heat. Or elaborations made of air chamber or metal washer or underwear elastic. Let's say that i have great imagination!
7. Also, are there any new innovative processes and unusual materials you have experimented while doing your latest collection?
Probably, the air chamber and a cotton textile that looks and feels like brown paper.

8. All the major maisons or fashion houses have been collaborating with high street brands in order to reach a broader audience. Do you see yourself going in this direction? If so, would you sacrifice quality for commercialism's sake?
To have such a great success a collection should be also "commercial", By saying this, I don't mean to say that the collection becomes or has to become "weaker". One has to be careful when thinking and using the word "commercial", but I believe that the idea of a great collection and "commercial" could coexist.

9. When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
It is not something that one can "become". 
One can't become a designer, one has to be born designer.
It is a vocation I have not chosen. 
It is something natural that has always been inside me.

Here's a preview of Cavagna's Womenswear Spring Summer 2013...
Photos courtesy of Giovanni Cavagna and Vertice London