An explosion of energy! Enjoy the reading of Luciano, Alumnus IED Milano, who is carrying out collabs and his own collection of streetwear, with passion and enthusiasm.
Q.: could you please tell us about the experiences that brought you from Molise to Milano? How did you finish up at the Istituto Europeo di Design and what did it mean for you to study at IED?
A.: this is a question that I have not often been asked and I am particularly glad that it was you who posed it, perhaps because you know the appreciation and affection I feel for my motherland and my roots.
Let's say that up until the age of 19 years, when I left Molise after finishing high school, thanks to my parents I had the good fortune of travelling widely with them. They brought me up to be very open, especially by allowing me to experience new places and people. They taught me how to behave and they transmitted to me a positive sense of the “other”. Based on this, my innate and extreme curiosity for everything that is "new" was fully satisfied. Immediately after high school I had a brief but intense experience of life in London, a city I had previously only visited for study, but that had immediately fascinated me with its variegated chaos and the heterogeneity of its inhabitants.
My big dream was to live there, find a job and build a future. Unfortunately it did not work out and I returned to Italy.
At that age I really felt cramped in Campobasso and Molise, and in my post-adolescence, with all its associated emotions, it was the last place I wanted to live in.
The choice fell to Rome, the capital city. I decided to resume my studies and chose the faculty of Political Science, specialised in International Relations, and was awarded a degree after 3 years. Many of my friends were surprised by this choice because it was seen to be disconnected with what I would go on to do later. However, for me it was a fundamental phase in my life. The first "serious" experience outside of the family setting, my first responsibility and commitments to fulfil, a future to build on my own initiative.
To be honest, right from the start I felt that this would not be the path I would take over the coming years, but along the journey I learned a lot in both human and cultural terms. I obstinately completed my academic study program, meanwhile promising myself that once I graduated I would carefully reconsider the next step.
Due to my creative inclinations and my "unconventional" dress sense, I often heard people say that Milan would be the ideal city for me.
And so, soon afterwards, I moved to Milan to visit the schools and universities that offered creative courses.
After visiting them all in person, making appointments, requesting course information, and carefully inspecting them in minute detail, my choice fell to IED because precisely in that year, 2008, an experimental course was starting called Urbanwear Design, with a program that ran in parallel to the traditional Fashion course, but with a street and urban imprint. It still thrills me as it did then because I convinced myself that fate had awaited my arrival in the city for 3 years before starting the course of my dreams.
“ I enrolled without any hesitation and from that moment onwards I can say that my life was never the same again. IED was my home for the next 3 years. ”
The educational methodology seemed like a dream come true compared to my university years in Rome: the relationship with the lecturers, the possibility for self-expression, and the interaction with Milan, a city offering a real wealth of opportunities.
Furthermore, my view of Molise improved considerably year by year. I started to feel increasingly happy to visit, seeing it with new eyes and great surprise, while enjoying the tranquillity that I found only there, as I still do today.
Q.: you have always loved streetwear. What was the transition like from street culture to the top-quality craftsmanship of a company like Montex, owned by Chanel, where you worked for 2 years?
A.: it's true, streetwear has always been my first love. And like all infatuations it is difficult to hide.
The greatest joy is when you discover people and jobs that know how to make the best of it.
I still remember the interview and three days' trial at the Atelier Montex. I arrived full of hope, enthusiastic and also with a healthy dose of trepidation, carrying a suitcase bursting with the designs I had created at IED during my three years of study: final thesis, experiments, personal albums, etc.
“ In the same year the Director of the Atelier together with a famous Creative Director were about to launch a new department of this famous embroidery fashion house, purchased by the Chanel group, a new unit with a more "architectural" conception of embroidery. “
MTX – Broderie Architecturale – was the name we all chose together.
After a brief trial period they asked me to return, offering me a 3-month work placement. I was somewhat surprised considering my background, studies, and personal inclinations, but I was delighted to accept.
They explained that precisely the difference in taste, aesthetic sense, experience, and heritage that differentiated us (I was as contemporary as they were traditional) had convinced them to try and achieve an unusual commingling of “look” and "suaveness" by injecting it into their entourage.
At Montex I had some major responsibilities as a designer, while feeling completely at ease in a very friendly work environment, also coordinating the organisation of the Salone del Mobile exhibition for that year with the launch of 4 products that we had prototyped together.
Q.: after work experience in various companies you decided to start your own brand (The Sign Republic). What does it mean to become entrepreneurs for ourselves?
A.: after two intense and highly satisfying years with Montex I felt a strong impulse to do something that was more specifically “fashion”, and I decided to design the first collection for the brand that I had conceived and already registered at the Chamber of Commerce during my last year at IED, remaining on my proverbial wish list for 4 years: THESIGN.
It was a critical and decisive transition in terms of personal growth.
Making a business of myself presented me with decisions and challenges that I had never imagined before. Overcoming these, or at least dealing with them, was a surprise even for me. Although I have always been confident in my own ability, I never imagined I would have to overcome so many problems in order to express my vision to the world.
So far, I feel I have gained a lot from that important decision made a few years ago. I have learned a lot from my mistakes and I feel that I have acquired a wealth of experience that is not just creative but also superior to that of many other "colleagues" who like to brag about their professionalism.
Q.: today you are also a teacher at IED Moda Milano and you have had the opportunity as IED Ambassador to establish contacts with a major Russian clothing company, “Mark Formelle”, and become their Creative Director. IED appears to be the common thread that runs through your professional career. Do you agree with this observation, and if so, how do you feel about this?
A.: definitely yes. After the French interlude I returned to Milan and I was invited to be an external commissioner during a thesis session. The following year I was entrusted with my first students for thesis tutoring. Subsequently the first workshops were held, and today I teach a fully-fledged course in the creation of “Contemporary Design/Streetwear” for the first-year students.
Returning to IED as a “teacher” was the fulfilment of a dream I had nurtured ever since I started school. It was enormously satisfying to be able to pass on to the new youngsters what I had learned before them, and help them deal with that important transition in their academic lives.
All this derived from a combination of my commitment and seriousness together with the sensibility of the people who work at IED and the esteem they hold me in. It is wonderful to be part of a group that has a mission that might be called "special".
It's a satisfaction that eludes words and I hope to be able to consolidate ever closer relations with IED in the future.
I have always thought of myself as a “prototype” that emerged successfully from the institute's educational forge. Clearly my creative inclinations go beyond my professional skills, which are nevertheless essential.
“ Another success, for example, was being selected last year by IED Moda to take part in the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Moscow, and immediately afterwards, again thanks to IED, being invited by the Italian Ambassador in Belarus to the Belarus Fashion Week. “
These two events helped further consolidate my professional career. They were two fantastic experiences. I had already had the honour and pleasure of taking part in the end of year fashion show at IED, but the emotions at Moscow and then Minsk were on a different level, providing an international showcase and appreciation for my work before a very wide audience from a different culture.
At the Minsk show, the Belarus company Mark Formelle were very impressed both by the product mix of my collection for THESIGN, and for the styling and “young & crazy” ambience that I gave to my part of the performance.
They contacted me about a month later asking me to collaborate in the design of a line for them.
After a visit to get to know the company, to find out who they were, what they did, and how I could fit into a brand positioned for what we call the “mass market” in a relatively recently established country that in many respects is still "closed", I accepted the challenge.
The result of this was the first Luciano Parisi & MF collection called “La dolce Vita”, in which I combined garments in line with current contemporary collections, without excessive stylistic hyperbole, coloured with graphic designs and allusions inspired by one of the cult Italian films best known outside of Italy.
The collection was presented at a fashion show in Minsk at the end of March 2018, and for the last few weeks it has been available at the 150 stores owned by the brand in various Eastern European countries.
Following the great success and hype set in motion by the show I was offered the position of Creative Director of the company supervising all their lines. At the moment we are still in the negotiation phase.
Q.: from IED student to IED teacher. What do your students give back to you today in human terms and in new understanding?
A.: fortunately the transition was not so drastic, considering that, thanks in part to age and in part to attitude, I still feel young enough to almost consider myself "one of them".
“ The biggest return I receive from my students is more in human terms rather than creative, and this is marvellous. “
Feeling "useful" in the educational development of a younger person, who has the same desire as you do to succeed in our ambiguous and problematic world of work, is enormously gratifying.
Q.: do you think the streetwear culture will survive or are we destined to see a natural inversion in trend?
A.: this question is certainly the “cherry on the pie” of our interview.
The “advance of streetwear” in recent years has literally overturned more traditional and institutional fashion with its highly dreamlike rather than everyday conceptions. But I believe this trend has its days counted.
I think that the brands and fashion houses, which historically enjoyed an almost "iconic" status selling completely exclusive products to a specific type of public, have given too much leeway to the inverse phenomenon that has emerged in recent years: that of having products apparently closer to the consumer because they are perceived as "easier" or more "commercial".
In the years in which social media have taken the lead and generated a new way of communicating-selling-buying, I believe that the hype of streetwear was an almost inevitable trend.
Nevertheless, I am still convinced that the turnabout will arrive in any case, but that this will not lead to the death of streetwear but instead finally put it back in its place: on the streets.