A LADy SOLDIEr STANdS ON A WiLD SNoWY WOOd, READY tO FIGHT aGAINST HeR ENEMy… THAt’S THE BeGINNInG OF SALVaTORE VIGNoLA’S STORy ABOUT hIS MODeRN AND STRoNG BRIGaNDS’ ARmY

Interview by: Annarosa Laureti

Brigantessa 2.0 Collection, Salvatore Vignola, Photo Carolina Amoretti
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection, Salvatore Vignola, Photo Carolina Amoretti

I first met Salvatore when I just moved in Milan. He immediately appeared to me as such a curious and friendly person with lots of dreams and a great determination to achieve them. It was 2016 and Salvatore has just founded his own brand after a triennium in Fashion Design at NABA and previous academic background in architecture and interior design at the Art Institute of Potenza. Now, that time has changed – yes, it was only three years ago, but we all know how life can transform vastly in our twenties – that tall, brunet, smiley guy I met one night has become one of the rising names in the Milanese fashion scene. After being chosen as European guest at Spring Summer 2018 Kazakhstan Fashion Week, the same year he started to join Milano Fashion Week. On the occasion of the launch of the “Brigantessa 2.0” Collection Campaign, I had a talk with Salvatore who tells me about his Lucanian roots, his “mythical” creative inspirations, and hardcore backstage’s anecdotes (where no stylists are allowed).

Annarosa: Looking at the “Brigantessa 2.0” Campaign the thing that strikes me first is that fascinating contradiction between oneiric setting and futuristic outfits. Neon details become the hallmark of a new feminine army of ancient origins. The very collection name also recalls the ancient Italian Brigantaggio (brigandage), with the addiction of such an actual upgrade reference. Where does the inspiration come from and how much of your origins, of your land and of your present, of course, are in the collection?

Salvatore: I love contradictions, they give birth to the unexpected. “Brigantessa 2.0” is the second chapter of the “Teatro al Mucchio” SS 19 Collection. They both talk about Lucanian woman: “Teatro al Mucchio” is a social and anthropological analysis of women who lived the “vicinato Materano”, women who built their own world apart from a masculine one – the project was also sponsored by Matera 2019 European Culture Capital – Brigantessa 2.0 is indeed a sort of revenge. It tells about female brigands, women who for the first time escaped from the role of mothers and wives to fight beside bandits, having equal mansions/tasks and sometimes also higher. Brigantessa 2.0 lives the present and she is genderless, she is a human being, a natural force, who respects her land and who has no fear to go off the grind imposed by society. I love so much starting from stories that belonged to me, such as those of the homeland I’ve been studying since ever. The creative process is easier and the project becomes unique. I believe that following trends is essential for a designer, otherwise I’d be a costumier.

Brigantessa 2.0 Collection, Salvatore Vignola, Photo Carolina Amoretti
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection, Salvatore Vignola, Photo Carolina Amoretti

A: During last Milano Fashion Week you debuted with your collection in the beautiful and quite unknown place, as its own name suggests, of Bagni Misteriosi (Mysterious Baths). Was the location’s choice a random pick or is it linked to a hidden story you may want to talk through your creations?

S: The name affected me more than the location itself. When you present a collection to press and buyers is always a mystery. I love astonishing people and I always try to DRY! (do not repeat myself). However, you need to be careful about surprises when it comes to buyers, they don’t really like too much unexpected.

rigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection by Salvatore Vignola, Photo Chiara Pesci
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A: The Fall Winter Collection sees indeed a collaboration with Ilaria Soncini’s brand Ilariusss. Eccentric and yet fascinating headpieces finished all the looks. How was this collaboration born and how much relevance has for you the accessory in the daily wardrobe?

S: Ilaria Soncini of Ilariusss is one of my dearest friends. The collaboration was born naturally and lovingly. We complete one to another: my dresses needed her headpieces and vice versa. The accessory is fundamental in a look: you can go out wearing pijamas, a trench and a hat and that’s it!

Brigantessa 2.0 Collection, Salvatore Vignola, Photo Carolina Amoretti
Brigantessa 2.0 Collection, Salvatore Vignola, Photo Carolina Amoretti

A: The fable and mythical elements – I’d say playful too – are recurrent in your works. How much the dreamy, the fantasy, deal with the design creative process and in particular with your own work?

S: Everyone has its own planning process. I’m glad my own is clear. I always start writing a story with historical, magical, mythological references and when I ended it I already know how I want to narrate it, where and who’s going to be the most suitable photographer.

A: Talking about your last “Teatro al Mucchio” Spring Summer 2019 Campaign I remember you told me once a curious anecdote behind it. Could you refresh my memory? And what can you unveil about Brigantessa 2.0? For example, I think about the picture portraying the model fluctuating in the air hung on a stone. How was it realized?

S: I don’t like Photoshop. Everything is portrayed in my picture has actually happened and I never delegate. Usually I don’t work with fixed assistants and I like to have my fingers in a lot of pies. My set are composed by 3 or 4 people and there aren’t stylists. I can tell you when I was around Matera with 20 items on my shoulders, or maybe about absurd outfit changes in the open air, or again when the model collapsed into a one meter of snow with exotic animals, and to end I can tell you about Kurganova, the model hanging on a 6- meters-high cliff, without safety belt since it would ruin the outfit (but of course with experts’ supervision).

Brigantessa 2.0 Collection, Salvatore Vignola, Photo Carolina Amoretti
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A: Tulle, petticoats, Swarovski details are mixed up with ski jackets and technical wardrobe… your “Brigantessa” seems to have a dual soul: delicate and iper feminine as well as strong and resolute. Is it true? Has Vignola woman always been a “sweet warrior” or she became so with this last collection?

S: The female soldier who do ballet is a main theme of my collections. Beauty can be real weapon and conceptually I think this is a funny way to enhance it. From the stylistic side I’m a truly passionate of men’s tailoring but also of laces and crochets and I can never choose among them. We all have white and black sides. I believe we have to shine on both otherwise all would be grey.

Salvatore Vignola portrait

“BRIGANTESSA 2.0” FW 19 Collection Campaign

Art director: Salvatore Vignola
Photographer: Carolina Amoretti
Make up: Serena Congiu
Model: Kurganova

“Brigantessa 2.0” presentation at Bagni Misteriosi, Photo by Chiara Pesci