The winner of the Central St Martins graduate show is an Italian print specialist who hand painted tyre tracks and flowers onto PVC dresses. Before her collection is even available in stores, we talk to designer Flaminia Saccucci.
If the graduate programme of London’s Central Saint Martins fashion school is considered an incubator of fashion talent – which it is, given that the likes of Christopher Kane and Sarah Burton are amongst its alumni – then the winner of the L'Oréal Professional Young Talent Award for the best student collection of the year at its year-end catwalk shows is surely the face of the future of fashion. Which makes Italian designer Flaminia Saccucci, the winner of the class of 2011, the most cutting edge name in fashion today.
Selected from one of the 45 final-year collections, which were short listed from nearly 200 students, Saccucci impressed the judging panel that included Christopher Kane, Lanvin's menswear designer, Lucas Ossendrivej, and Carola Long, Deputy Fashion Editor of the Financial Times. What caught their eyes were Saccucci’s remarkable prints (the subject she studied) that consisted of flowers fused with tyre tread that dramatically made tracks down dresses, leggings and boots. Even more surprising was the primary material that Saccucci employed: rubber PVC, which is difficult to print onto and required hand painting.
It wasn’t only the judges who were taken by Saccucci’s combination of the sexy and the feminine. As she explains in our exclusive interview, magazines and recruitment agencies that were watching from the front row have made approaches. And for those who want to be seasons ahead of the game, she is negotiating with a handful of department stores to make her unusual PVC creations available to followers of fashion. Invest in her debut collection; Flaminia Saccucci is one to watch.
What is your definition of luxury?
Being able to do what you like.
If luxury were a place, where would it be?
If luxury were an object, what would it be?
It would be a luxury not to need any object.
If luxury were a moment, when would it be?
When you smile thinking of a great time you had.
If luxury were a person, who would it be?
The one you love.
What has been the reaction to your graduate collection and winning the L’Oreal Professional Award?
My reaction? It was fantastic and unexpected. The reaction of others? I have been contacted from many different places: scouting/recruitment agencies, stores, magazines. Everyone was really amazed by the collection.
Tell us about the collection – from the point of inspiration to presenting on the catwalk and how it encapsulates what you learnt during your time at Central St Martins.
The collection mainly consists of garden landscapes and tyres, screen printed on latex and mixed with digitally printed leather and tulle.
I started with researching tyres because I was amazed by the work of artist Paolo Canevari. I like the texture of the tyres - the hardness but the smoothness they have.
I have a love for fabrics and their texture and had been looking at different combinations in order to obtain the feeling of a real yet wearable tyre. The use of latex rubber came as a result of that. I had a morbid attraction to it, to its sharpness and softness.
My aim was to produce an unexpected use of latex - not expressly sexy but with sharp and feminine silhouettes and prints. In order to achieve this femininity, I used latex alongside a softer garden landscape print, to smooth the graphical aspect of the tyre.
The realization of the garments has been really challenging both for the cutting and the printing -because of the new meaning I wanted to give to latex. Printing on latex is very difficult because of its stretch. This is the reason why you don’t normally see a 4-colour print on latex!
But throughout this project I have always been very focused and I have never lost the passion for what I was doing.
This is what I have learnt at Saint Martins - to get on with the project, try and try again, and not to be scared.
Are tyre and garden prints something of a signature? What else have you experimented with?
I love tyres and flowers, they were the team for this collection, but is not everything I do. I like to experiment with different materials and fabric mixes. My work is often inspired by Arte Informale (Informal Art) and so by artists such as Alberto Burri. I did lace designs, animal prints, Braille prints and lots of experimenting.
You’re Italian – why did you choose to study fashion in London?
Because of the freedom.
What influence do you think Central St Martins specifically had on your work?
I have learnt to be happy to be different in what I do and not to follow others.
Who are your favourite fashion designers?
I like Raf Simons’ work for Jil Sander for bringing innovative cuts always with a perfect fit. From the past I admire the work of Cristobal Balenciaga. As Madeleine Vionnet said: “He never makes mistakes, he always selects the best style.”
What are your interests outside of fashion and how do these appear in your work?
I have a great passion for the history of art and design and of course this inspires my work. I love going to exhibitions, reading catalogues and walking around beautifully planned cities.
What do you see as your greatest challenge as a young, emerging designer?
To be a designer in this tough period of time. There are also so many young designers and everyone just wants the same.
Will we be able to buy or order any pieces from the collection?
I graduated just a few weeks ago but there are offers from department stores which I am considering.
What’s next for Flaminia Saccucci?
Making the right choice from the opportunities I have now been presented with.