Antidote Magazine dedicates a full editorial to Ilaria Nistri FW17 collection, together with an interview where the designer talks about femininity, strength and romanticism.

Here below the entire interview:

For ten years, the Florence-based Italian designer has been creating sculptured fashion that is sometimes dark but always sexy, combining leather with silk, force with romanticism. In this exclusive interview, Ilaria Nistri speaks of her relationship with Franca Sozzani, fashion in a time of social networks and reveals her iconoclastic vision of femininity.

Last year was your label's 10th anniversary. How would you assess that period?
I started in fashion without having studied the subject, I was studying law. But I had experience in textiles and most of all, I had an innate attraction for clothing. So I started in a rather organic manner. These ten years have been an uninterrupted series of emotions. I had periods of doubt, moments of joy when I was recognized by the press and buyers; many pivotal moments as well. It has been a very intense ten years. I founded this company with my partner, who is also my husband, and then my sister joined us. We are very proud of our family business.

Was success quick to come?
I was very lucky because people started to notice me almost immediately. I would even say that the beginning was easier than the rest. I presented my collections for the first time in Paris and prestigious shops were interested in me and supported my project straight away. People had an awesome reaction.

What do you think the secret to your label's success is?
Passion and work. We wanted to build a solid business with people whom we could trust and who could help us develop the project. We have a global vision and we are involved in the entire process from the choice of fabrics, to communication and sales. We have always tried to remain focused and carefully follow every step in the process.

How do you think that the fashion industry has evolved in ten years?
It has changed a lot. Social networks have dramatically changed the way in which we work, not only in terms of communication but also in terms of sales with the arrival of online sales. Everything is more difficult today, social networks are now part of our daily work. I invest in that sector, but also in public relations. I try to create a lot of images for each season, I think it's important to show the multitude of ways to wear a garment. However, the constant search for high quality production has not changed. You need to have a team of qualified people for creating patterns, prints and all of the production process.

Do you think that they are positive changes?
Of course. Because you can reach a much larger amount of people and not only people in the fashion sector. Everything that you do receives a lot more exposure. It is also positive because you can also find many new ideas while spending a lot of time on the networks. They stimulate your curiosity. In general, I think that all change is beneficial, especially in fashion.

Franca Sozzani helped you a lot at the beginning of your career, what did you learn from her?
She was very important to me. I didn't even know who she was during my first competition. I came from a totally different world. When she invited me to show her my collection so that she could decide whether or not I qualified to take part in the competition, I accepted and when I finally realized who she was, I couldn't believe it. She often sent supportive messages that helped me during difficult times. After she invited me on stage in Milan for my first catwalk, I sent a message to thank her and I remember very well what she told me: "I am very proud to be the one that discovered you." I keep the message close by in my office so that when I am overcome with doubt, I read it and it motivates me to carry on. She came to my first fashion shows and that is not something that you can take for granted as a young designer. It helped me to believe in myself and in the path that I had chosen.

Your father encouraged you to launch into fashion although you were studying law. That is not always the case for many people...
Actually, I earned my law degree, he didn't ask me to stop everything for fashion. He has a textile production business and almost subconsciously, he is the one who convinced me to launch into the fashion sector. I have always loved traveling and I can travel the world while searching for textiles, production sites and sales. So he suggested that I pursue a career in the field, which was not my original intention.

What attracted you to this creative industry?
I have always been moved by fashion. When I was young, I was obsessed with my clothing collection. For example, I collect antique kimonos, I have often traveled to Japan to purchase them. I am also a fan of clothing from the 20s. However, I have never really been fascinated by the fashion industry itself. When I began working in textiles, I started to become interested in fashion shows and once again I felt some very strong emotions. I frequently associate important moments in my life with the outfits that I was wearing at the time. Fashion has always been an integral part of who I am.

Do you have a fashion icon?
Nature is my fashion icon, because it's an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me with its colors, shapes and energies. I am also passionate about architecture and it shows in my creations. I especially love brutalist architecture, the use of contrasting elements such as cement and iron with glass or mirrors. Also art, of course. I have worked with Andreas Nicolas Fischer and photographer David Maisel. My parents are also big art collectors of antique Italian art from the 15th and 16th centuries. Art has always been a part of my education.

Has Italy also had an influence on your aesthetic view?
One of the members of the jury for my first competition told me that I wasn't very Italian. That seemed so strange to me. I think that Italian art has inspired the intense colors that I use. My approach to coordinating my collections and balancing different elements is also typical of Italian fashion.

Do you think that femininity is also defined by a balance between different elements?
Absolutely. For me, femininity is the delicate balance between strength and structure on the one hand and fragility and sweetness on the other. These are innate in women. I think that being sexy is really finding the right balance between strength and fragility. That is why combining androgynous pieces with more feminine ones creates a real harmony and adds a sexy touch to an outfit. I don't think that "sexy" means revealing a part of the body or not, it is more a way of moving, interacting with people, realizing who you are as a woman. That is why I never hide the body, it is embodied by very fluid, subtle silhouettes.

Have you ever thought of launching a men's collection?
I would love to. It is becoming increasingly frequent for woman's ready-to-wear labels to launch men's collection. That would also make sense for me to explore the borderline between feminine and masculine. In fact, I have some men clients who buy my clothing that are originally intended for women. Some pieces are totally adapted to men and I am happy that it's that way, because my goal is above all to make clothing that will be worn, not just looked at.

Who would you like the most to wear your creations?
I am thinking of a type of woman from an aesthetic point of view. For example, I would like to see someone like Mica Arganaraz, who perfectly personifies the masculine-feminine contrast. She is both very attractive and very androgynous. I would also have loved to have dressed Peggy Guggenheim, a very educated person with a very busy life.

How does music influence your fashion?
I must say that I am very fond of music, I like it, I listen to it, I dance to it but I am far from being an expert in music. I am led by the emotions that it stirs within me. However, it is not part of my creative process. Once the collection is finished, I love to associate it with a type of music, but that comes after creation.

This collection is a bit punk, isn't it?
Definitely. But I'm not sure that it was done intentionally at first. In any case, I love leather, studs, I am fascinated by punks and that whole sub-culture. It was really something innate that I developed while creating the collection without even realizing it. It also has some Japanese influences mixed in, which makes it a very personal collection.

Do you try to send messages with your collections?
I don't really know if there is a single message. I try to make clothing that I can identify with, that I would like to wear. If there is an underlying message, it would simply be to learn to know oneself and to reveal who you are through what you wear.



Text: Edouard Risselet


Photo : Julien Bernard

Artistic direction: Yann Weber

Model : Anya L @Elite

Fashion production: Jessica de Jong
Make-up: Gregoris Pyrpylis @Calliste Agency

Hair : Olivier Schawalder @Calliste Agency