A story about a man, who tells with his eyes, who speaks with his creations and who gives so much. ANDREA CAMMAROSANO is a strong individual, strikingly open to others and uniquely aware of his surroundings. When I met him in Florence, he was working intensively on his new collection. We sat down and simply conversed. Each word he utters is carefully weighed as each sentence resonates calmly. Welcome to the world of Andrea, one we would love to get lost in.
Speaking of heritage, where are you from and how did you get to where you are today?
Well I was born and raised in Italy, but I studied at the Royal Academy in Antwerp. Both Italy and Antwerp are places where beauty and creativity occupy such a strong role in everyday life. In Italy it is often a sense of Fellinian beauty that mixes the precious and trivial, different registers, while in Belgium there is more of a rigorous and conceptual attitude to aesthetics. As a creator, I feel these are the two attitudes that shape my identity – the concept and the whimsical. For my work, I travel a lot and always question very strongly what I do and who I am. This is, in a way, how my label came into existence, as a mirror for all these experiences.
You work is filled with connotations, references and pensive anecdotes. How do you shape the universe for each collection?
It always starts from a fragment…like a sentence, or an image. I just let my hands and eyes be guided by that thought. It is all about finding the right key to reading its sentiment. For me it is beautiful to translate ideas into objects, because the very cultural references that you start from acquire a totally new meaning. This constant dialogue between thinking and making is the most rewarding aspect of the creative process.
What to you are the challenges and also rules found in contemporary menswear? And how did you carve out your unique take on the male silhouette?
The beauty of menswear is that the solidity of its tailoring provides a beautiful background to experimenting with lightness. One can work from this structure, with a framework that gives you the possibility of adding fluidity without losing the construction. It is not quite adding feminine elements – for me it is more about using lightness as a rebellious tool. This is how I create my shapes – I try to visualize the construction, and then to break it at various different points by adding or morphing lighter whimsical elements.
Last summer, I visited the LaBrea Tar Pits in Los Angeles – I was struck by the brutality of tar – its feel and odor. Yet, just next door, there is the LACMA with its polished collections. It made me think of how objects and especially garments, live a life of their own; independently from the wearer or from the maker. I felt there was such strong poetry in this violence, therefore I developed garments that were trapped in different elements; laminated garments, or mutilated garments, or jackets cast inside a thick layer of foam, printed and coated in silicon to resemble a tarred surface. I opposed this brutality with the highest quality of hand-manufacturing and with a refined fabric choice of wools, cashmeres and breezy silks.
Our senses are triggered by many things. What triggers you?
Personally, I love craftsmanship and to spend time in the ateliers. It is so rewarding to see how things are created and therefore to create things yourself. I get upset when I see fashion designers who are actually merchandisers; fashion is about developing and about creativity, so we should be involved in that act and we should respect it irreverently.
You are based between San Francisco and Florence, in what way do you lend elements of inspiration from both these so different places?
California for me is the Pacific coast, the huge dimensions of barren cliffs and of the ocean, the idea of a certain frontier. Whereas, Italy is where I take my nuances from – the soft hues of the stones and of the sky, the miniatures, paintings, mosaics…I like the contrast between these two environments, they energize each other continuously.
Freshness. How do you keep cool, in the italian summer?
You can’t – just surrender to the heat!
Sounds: What do you listen to?
Glenn Gould, Giorgio Moroder, Patti Smith…
Coffee: If you could have an espresso with an artist, designer, musician, etc, that means a lot to you, who would this be?
In a dreamworld, a doppio-macchiato with Federico Fellini.