Fashion designer Interviews: Marco De Vincenzo

In our column “Fashion designer interviews” meet Marco De Vincenzo, an italian talented fashion designer. There are people destined to achieve great goals: Marco is one of them.

Born in 1978 in Messina, Sicily, Marco de Vincenzo was a designer for ten years at the Fendi fashion house, where he worked alongside Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director for accessories. In 2008 came his “big move”: Marco decided to focus on his own prêt-a-porter line and a year later won Vogue’s prestigious “Who is on Next” competition, firmly establishing him in the fashion world. It’s the story of a fast-rising talent.

Let’s start with your time at Fendi…
I started working for Fendi as soon as I finished studying—there weren’t many people in the creative team then. It was there for the first time that I had the opportunity to express myself and I learnt the fundamental importance of teamwork: even a seemingly unimportant final touch to a product can be essential.

Then you felt the need to set off on a new adventure.
I chose to focus on clothes, even though I’d worked solely on accessories (on bags in particular), because I wanted to satisfy a creative need I’d always felt.

Do you remember your first clothes design?
I’m not particularly gifted when it comes to working with my hands, but drawing is something that I’ve always done—it comes naturally to me. Over the years I’ve tried illustration, comic strips and painting (I still really love to paint). I did my first basic sketches when I was still a child, but I’d say that it was when I was about 15 that I realised that designing clothes was what I liked doing most. Even now, when I design my collections, I use illustrations exclusively, just like in the old ateliers.

Do you have a favourite style?
Every now and then I think I’d like to be like Rick Owens and have really precise ideas and fixed points, but I’m omnivorous about anything to do with art. I like exploring. Of course, I try to focus my ideas but I’ve given myself the luxury of space to experiment. I tend to be a bit nostalgic. I’d probably have liked to have been a designer between the 50s and the 80s. I love the fashion of the past—everything is so fast today! I can definitely say that a key moment in my development as a designer was when I discovered Walter Albini. His total aesthetic vision was a complete revelation to me.

Is there a designer you’d like to work with?
Definitely Miuccia Prada. When it comes to her I totally lose my objectivity. I like everything she does, regardless. I really admire the fact that, despite the fact that it’s big company, they’re still brave about taking risks. Their collections are always full of references, the whole thing revolves around an idea, the work behind it is always visible and you never feel taken for a ride.

What’s your favourite material?
Jersey. Its characteristics are endless and, with the range of weights and the different ways of working it, it can resemble really high quality fabric. The material that I love most of all and the one I feel closest to is leather. I’ve realised that my approach is like a leather craftsman’s. I always think of a dress like a small object and leather communicates really well the appeal of timeless luxury.

Is there an all-purpose dress design, one that would suit both slimmer and curvier women?
I’d say in general dresses that are carefully matched to the body. I’m thinking about Azzedine Alaia’s super-feminine creations. They almost seem like a second skin. Since they’re perfectly fitted, they can be adapted really well to any body shape.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I’ve learnt over time that everything I see, everything I observe, sooner or later returns to my mind unconsciously. I love enjoying every moment and waiting for it to be transformed into something concrete. I photograph everything that grabs my attention and, while I’m working on my collections, I often realise how my inspiration has called me back to images on my iPhone I’d forgotten about.

What do you do to relax?
I’m fanatical about old Walt Disney films. I like thinking that every frame was hand-drawn. When I need to take a break, all I need to do is watch Snow White, Fantasia or Bambi again. I’d take them to a desert island with me!

I’ve noticed that women in the south of Italy have a different relationship with their own femininity. They don’t get obsessive about a few extra pounds and they love playing with bright colours and low necklines. They’re really happy with who they are. Do you agree?
Definitely. In the south there’s a dimension to life that’s more real, one far removed from trends in fashion and the obsessions of the people working in the industry. New designs arrive more slowly and impose themselves in a way that’s less overbearing. When you walk around the streets as well, you still notice the passion and the desire to seduce, while in the north of Italy girls prefer simpler, more androgynous lines.

I imagine your typical south Italian male stubbornness has played an important role in your professional career.
Absolutely. I started out by thinking that all you needed was desire, enthusiasm and talent but I learnt that without perseverance you don’t get anywhere. It’s thanks to my Sicilian temperament, which is still the basis of my ability to keep on going. I’ve many less stubborn friends who, despite being hugely talented, gave up along the way.

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