And if everything is destined to fade away, these will be the only exception; because the memory we have of her will remain indelible.A tribute to Raffaella’s blonde hair, dance and music that transcend time, just like the sun. A 2019 interview done by Chido Obasi with the 16Arlington duo on their muse Raffaella Carrà
Text by: Domenico Costantini
Interview by: Chido Obasi
We have our own image of her. We want to pay our homage to her by republishing an interview by Chido Obasi dated 2019, to show how Raffaella was not just a simple singer, but a woman capable of leaving her mark on art, fashion and society.
For the last time, ciao Raffaella.
And thank you.
The Polarity Of Grunge And Romance
In Conversation With 16Arlington’s Marco Capaldo And Federica Cavenati, The Duo Sailing The Graceful Waves Of Craftsmanship
CD. Since 16 Arlington’s inception, the brand’s DNA cruises the lanes of contemporary designs and urban codes of dressing, keeping craftsmanship at the very core. What was the prime purpose you longed to communicate through your garments?
16Arlington has always been a cocktail of ideas, a balance of extremes. Masculinity versus femininity, minimalism versus Maximalism, Extreme Italian exuberance, and glamour contrasted with minimalistic London cool. The main message that we hope that comes through in our collections is confidence. We want our woman to feel empowered we want her to be wearing the clothes and not vice versa. We’ve always seen our garments as something that accelerates a beauty that is already there. We believe in unleashing the in the glamour of our wearer and make her feel like the best version of herself possible. We love the idea of each piece in the collection being an object of desire, to create a fantasy, and to bring an element of fantasy into our wearer’s reality.
How has your places of provenance inspired to create the brand?
Our heritage is really reflected in the core of the brands DNA. Kikka being Italian and having lived in London from a young age and Marco being born in London with an Italian background has allowed us to authentically extract memories and inspiration from our time growing surrounded by these two very distinct cultures and inject this straight into the collections we work on today. It’s finding the harmonious balance between these two extremes which really excites us. Italy is known for this love of life, excess glamour and responsible for some of the most beautiful design in the world The idea of putting that in the melting pot with an attitude of effortlessness, grunge, fetish and a number of other assets that London possesses, inspires and forms the foundation of 16Arlington.
You’ve now garnered a (pretty major) cult following. How do you feel that’s propelled over seasons and how does it resonate to the brand’s vision?
It’s been such an exciting journey so far. We have been so fortunate to have worked with some of the most incredibly beautiful and talented women and something that we are really proud of is that all of the women stand for something so positive and are all leaving their mark on the world and making it a better place. In terms of how it resonates with the brand’s vision it falls exactly in line with our core values of igniting a sense of glamour in our wearer and that the garments really are pieces to enhance a beauty that is already there. All the women that we have been so lucky to dress are all so different, they have different careers in different industries, they are different heights and different sizes but what they all share is this attitude of confidence and as we mentioned earlier are all inspirations and contributing to such positive causes across the globe.
I’ve always seen your aura as quite intriguing, classical and quintessential, marrying a powerful nonchalance of sleek-grunge. How did you intermix all styles?
This really goes back again to all of the balances present within the brand’s DNA again we are so lucky to have been prominently surrounded by two cultures that are both so rich in history, culture, art, and pop culture. We often delve into a number of aspects to draw inspiration, from photographers to florists to sculptors, architects and it’s the clashing of these extremes that excites us. It’s the marriage and intertwining of all these different ideas that really comes from having two of us working on the collection at the same time. Although over the five seasons our ideas and vision have very much synced and falling in line with each other we still bring two very different personalities and handwritings to the table. Both our hands and eyes literally touch every piece and the entire collection is a collaboration. Of course there are things which are more Kikka or more Marco however it’s this level of trust that we have developed in each other that allows something to blossom. At the end of the collection all our contrasting ideas seem to harmonize in a way that may be at the starting point didn’t feel possible.
What do feathers mean to you?
I think what we find most intriguing about feathers is the movement they create when worn. We love the idea of dresses having a story to tell the next morning. There is a feeling you get when you wear feathers, movement takes over, you instantly start swaying and dancing, and instantly that’s a mood booster. We also love how feathers can be manipulated in so many different ways and the sense that they come alive and bring the garment to life is quite magical.
How about sparkles and shimmery-like elements?
I think like the feathers, Shimmer and sparkle creates movement, it reflects the light and there is something so intriguing about sparkles which is probably why they present in every magical Disney movie because they transport you from reality into a fantasy and that’s exactly what we hope to do when we dress our wearer.
What inspires your unique designs?
Inspiration really comes from everywhere. As we mentioned earlier we love to delve into the rich cultures of both Italy and the UK but we are often looking at referencing so many different artists and people who decent from so many different beautiful cultures worldwide. Most recently we looked at the incredible body of work of the late Chinese photographer Ren Hang who threw his strong graphic imagery set the tone for our AW 2020 collection. We are also really lucky to be surrounded by such an incredible group of creative friends who naturally inspire us on a daily basis. Inspiration can come at any time from something as obvious as the colour palette of a painting hanging in the gallery to something or someone that catches your eye in a coffee shop. There is something quite exciting about the unknown and never knowing when something is suddenly going to spark inspiration and how that small thing can trigger so much in terms of developing a collection.
That Raffaella Carrà moment in your SS20 collection was utterly remarkable. What triggered to delve into her world?
We can safely say that Raffaella was a huge presence in both our childhoods. There was not a single evening that Raffaella was not on our TV screens. We both have such fond memories of being at our grandparent’s homes and watching the admiration that all these generations had for this one woman. We always say that she is the Italian gift that keeps on giving. When working on our Spring/Summer 20 collection we wanted to really focus on more innocent and beautiful times and we drew a lot of inspiration from the 60s as an era and as we were developing the collection we were listening to Raffaella which triggered us to dig deep into her world and it was a combination of both her incredible archive of clothing but more so her personality and talent that we wanted to shine through in SS20. Again she offered a fantasy and allowed people to leave their reality.
What is it about London you connect with?
London is home for us. Even when traveling there is something about when you return to London, You breathe this sigh of relief and almost feel like the city is hugging you. The writer Samuel Johnson once quoted that “when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life” and I think we can definitely standby that statement. London is such an exciting city which is always bubbling there’s always something to discover, there’s always someone to meet and the fact that we work on something that is constantly evolving for that to be paralleled in our surroundings contributes so well to the process.
How do you find people react to your designs?
It’s a real mix, we like to think that there is something in the collection for everybody but ultimately we hope to gain a lot of smiles and happiness from the clothing and we want it to bring joy. There is always that shock factor of contrasting something ultra-elegant and beautiful with something slightly more risqué and vulgar however when the collection is dissected we really think that there is a piece that can relate to every woman. It’s always a lot of fun collaborating with stylists and talent for red carpet moments because here you see a real fusion between our vision but also theirs. It is these pieces that often spark a conversation which is what art is all about.
Ever thought of diving into the menswear arena?
Absolutely I think now more than ever men are so adventurous and creative with the way they dress it’s amazing to see that this curtain of rules has been lifted on how men should dress and there is that real appetite for experimentation in that arena. We have been tagged on our social media and also seen out at various parties men wearing some of our clothing and it’s really exciting to see how they interpret it. Marco often take some of the leather pieces in the collection in bigger sizes and wear them.
What are your most treasured projects you’ve worked on?
There have been so many really special moments on our journey so far that we have been honoured to work on it. One that really stands out was when British Vogue asked us to create a custom piece for the December issue for the artist Lizzo. When you naïvely set out and start a brand opportunities like this are something that you can only dream of it really was an incredible project to be involved with. We have loved working on all the custom red carpet outfits and also working with such supportive and influential stockists on a variety of exclusive capsules and stories.