There are those such as Vincent Van Gogh, Prince and Coco Chanel who are considered to have been ahead of their times. Switch to today and that could not be said for many, apart from Alexandra Fede. While most fashion designers are still experimenting with the combination of different eras, Alexandra Fede has taken her creativity one step further with the fusion of Science, Technology and Fashion.
Resulting in a portfolio filled with remarkable creations such as Anti Violence, a range of garments made with fabric resistant to bullets, knives, razors and more. And the Gold Dress, a dress made of gold cards and kilometres of gold wire as featured in the Guinness Book of records 1999.
And while not many of us are walking around in Alexandra Fede it can be safe to say that if she has her way, we will be.
The idea of combining science with fashion is extremely innovative, what inspired you to develop this concept?
Fashion has always been for me an extremely creative world but I have always had the feeling that something has to change for a better quality of life. In today’s world creativity is not enough. I started researching to give some added value to the wearer. Thanks to the haute couture, which I used as an experimentation lab, I tested new fibres and finishes along with a design and style that would reflect sometimes invisible innovation in the apparel.
I had many inspirations coming out from observing the people’s needs and my own. For example: one day I was flying from Rome to Paris for an important meeting and you know what happened on the plane? Due to the turbulence I spilt all my orange juice on my clothes. At that time I felt terrible as I did not have time and clothes to change. So my first thought was “I have to invent StainLess garments to be always perfect especially after a trip.
Many other inspirations (STRESSLESS, ANTI-VIOLENCE, JOY DRESS, LIGHT DRESS) during these years were on my mind and I have been very lucky to make the dreams come true.
Concerning wellbeing I had an inspiration for the Sportswear Collection. I had to give wearers an instant monitoring system capable to save lives. This technology will be very useful for heart rate, respiration and many others parameters.
Which did you study first, fashion or science?
Being a pioneer is very difficult and it means suffering. For me Fashion and Science were together and I studied them more or less at the same time. Let’s say that I started with fashion first only because I had an artistic feeling then due to the difficult task I was faced with, I started studying science especially on the “field” in the Due Pont de Nemours labs in Geneva.
Your portfolio contains some great inventions such as the Anti Violence Collection, JoyDress and the “Gold dress”, which did you most enjoy working on?
Probably Anti-Violence, also as it caused me many problems. The Governments (France, Italy, Israel, etc…) called me immediately and made many enquiries. Trouble was they were more concerned that a similar technology would be available through “civil” channels and would also benefit criminals giving them extra protection. They missed seeing that also the day-to-day wearer would have an enormous benefit from this innovation. When I first presented Anti-Violence at the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence, in Milan three jewellers had been shot by criminals wanting to steal the jewellery!
All this doesn’t mean that I don’t love each innovation, like the JoyDress, that I present. It’s just that once it is out I am already experimenting something else. I just can’t keep my mind from researching new innovations.
Could you explain a little bit about the design process behind your collections, for example do you devise the functional element first and then work on your creative designs?
It very much depends on the technology I am implementing. For example, the StressLess fabric, with carbonium, shielding against electromagnetic pollution, didn’t have any impact on my creativity and the Italian mills did a superb job in producing for me exactly the colours and fibres I wanted.
For other fabrics, like the Anti-Violence, when designing the models, I had to carefully approach the ballistic issue. This meant protecting the most vulnerable parts of the body first and using cuts that could be made in the factory. This was due to the fact that it is a very difficult fabric to cut on normal industrial cutting machines (example Gerber or Investronica).
Whom would you credit with being an inspiration or an influence to you?
I started my career working as an assistant to a Haute Couture designer in Rome called Fausto Sarli, unknown to most but an absolute genius for cuts and volumes. Later I also worked with Maestro Roberto Capucci, called the sculpture stylist. They have been the first designers to introduce the “Made in Italy” fashion in the 1950 with G.B. Giorgino in Florence. At that time all the international buyers from Saaks etc. started the Italian Fashion miracle.
If you had a choice of collaborating with another fashion designer whom would you choose and why?
I think that amongst the defects stylists have, one of the worst is to have an individualistic character and I am no exception. If I HAD to I would cooperate with Giorgio Armani, for the efficiency of his fashion system, an infallible chain from design, production and retail.
So what future projects can we expect from Alexandra Fede?
I have signed an agreement for the sportswear produced by the MarioBoselli Holding. Dr. Mario Boselli is the President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and has seven of the most beautiful factories producing fibres and finished garment in Italy. So I will have the possibility to impact directly on the production of the fabric down to the finished garments and they are willing to implement many of my technologies (including electronics) in the garments. There is a Top Secret news but I cannot yet release it.
I have a fashion show on the 10 of June in Venice here in Italy and I here enclose the press release in English.
Is your work available at any retail outlets and if not how could one make a purchase?
This is one of the biggest problems that an innovator has to face. Production and distribution. Some industries have just started to have an interest “inspired” as to jump in to this adventure. They have to reconvert a production chain and employ new skills like electronic engineers, in order to launch on the market a highly innovative Alexandra Fede Collection. Not many have wanted to take the risk till Mario Boselli came along. In shops with sportswear starting from December 2004.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Artists are very close to God and creativity comes from God. The Pope wrote a beautiful letter to the Artists, if you want to read it I can send it to you.
“Society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians, workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers, fathers and mothers, who ensure the growth of the person and the development of the community”
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