Italy’s Who Is On Next women’s competition isn’t about prize money. The young designer finalists, all with collections made in Italy, are selected by Italian Vogue and Altaroma each year, but they are already in business and usually doing quite well. It was when Italy, a country where the lion’s share of fine fashion is produced, found itself without its own strong younger generation of brands, that this contest was launched. Now in its tenth edition, Who Is On Next has ushered in a slew of new Italian talents including Nicholas Kirkwood, Marco de Vincenzo, Arthur Arbesser and Stella Jean.
Nine 2014 finalists in clothes and accessories have just been announced and they will present shows and compete for Who Is On Next from 12-16 July in Rome during Altaroma. Coming from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, headquartered in France, throughout Italy or elsewhere, they are a picture of fashion’s diversity with one common thread: creativity intrinsically linked to Italy’s excellent artisanal tradition.
Israeli designer Aliza Shalali Daizy, 29, grew up in a village near Tel Aviv, but she opened her atelier in Milan last October where she now lives. Strong combinations of fabrics (mohair, leather and geo patterns) and bold prints combining digital and manual techniques, characterize the F/W 14/15 collection inspired by Daizy’s grandmother.
Marianna Cimini, 29, grew up on the Amalfi coast and after winning several design competitions she “learned the ropes” at Max Mara and Tod’s. She launched her label in Milan in 2012 and centered her look on what she calls “metropolitan graphics,” for clothes that are both easy and sharp. Her F/W14/15 collection is inspired by the end of a love affair, “the time we’re at our most fragile.” The collection is full of powdery pinks to hint at “the nakedness of the soul” and simple shapes caught between work and play.
Elsa Vigilante, 33, and Monica Mignone, 31, based Project149 (the number 149 joins their birthdays) in Cremona, not far from Milan where they work with local resources just beyond the Italian fashion capital. Their S/S 15 collection mixes trompe l’oeil and transparency to make prints “more real” and as a reflection of themselves.
Salvatore Piccione, 28, is a self-described lover of embellishment and so embroidery, kaleidoscopic pattern and jeweled accents are what his collections are made of. Raised in Sicily, he went on to work with Mary Katrantzou where he developed his print skills and Céline where he applied them in a completely different style before he launched his own label. Nature, “the contrast of small geometric elements mixed with natural structure” inspires his Alice in Wonderland vision for women in a mix of dreams and real beauty.
Ukranian Svetlana Taccori, 40, loves knits and has been collecting knit accessories, particularly hats, everywhere she goes. “They’re ethnic, colorful and voluminous and I decided to adapt them to myself because I believe if you want to make something others will like you first must please yourself.” Beginning with hand knit big bonnets which sell at Colette in Paris, Tak.Ori has branched out into coats, sweaters and skirts for a graphic total look in cashmere, mohair and wool.
It was natural that Caterina Zangrando, 30, would end up producing her jewelry in the Veneto. She grew up in Treviso and the region is Italy’s center for hand made jewelry. Inspired by contemporary architecture, her pieces incorporating delicate jeweled screws and bolts, are an intriguing mix of the hard and luxurious, past and present.
The name Corion comes from the latin word Corivm meaning leather, and designer Milica Stankovic has immersed herself in the technique of braided calf leather while working with one of Tuscany’s finest tanneries to come up with new combinations and finishings. Inspired by her grandfather, a former tailor to the King of Serbia, Stankovic worked with Jean Paul Gaultier and Jean-Claude Jitrois before she launched her label. “My grandfather taught me to see beauty in the unexpected, Gaultier taught me to dream and Jitrois opened my eyes to the unbelievable possibilities of leather.”
Giuliana Mancinelli Bonafaccia
After studying architecture, Giuliana Mancinelli Bonafaccia, 35, launched her collection in 2011 in Rome. Today she is inspired by architecture, art and the details of everyday life. Her F/W 14/15 Tie Break collection mixes colored Plexiglas in geometric shapes, brass, red, green and chocolate gold and braided metal cords.
“Most women are modern day Dorothys and Cinderellas. A special pair of shoes makes you feel like a million,” says Jordanian-born Amina Muaddi, 28, who grew up with a passion for everything beautiful under the wing of a mother with great style. After trying on all the shoes in her mother’s closet, Muaddi developed an obsession for footwear. “I have always seen shoes as beautiful pieces of sculpture and there was never a doubt where I would produce mine.” Oscar Tiye is made on the Brenta Riviera, a center of fine Italian shoemaking.