In fashion, there’s no future without past. And divina_ispirazione, the Instagram account that became a mini encyclopedia for fashion addicteds, know it well. Through editorials and advertising from the past, it’s easy to realize how iconic designers have still a lot to say, even in the most contemporary collections. Giampiero Arcese, the mind behind divina_ispirazione, told us everything about his work in this interview.
Audrey Hepburn photographed by Bert Stern at Maison Givenchy for a fashion editorial called “The Givenchy idea” (edition of Vogue, April 15, 1963, published photo), on March 15, 1963. Evening gown by Givenchy, made of silk shantung in a shade of vivid yellow covered with polka-dots, strapless, decorated in front by a brooch of big pearls and crystal beads, creating the false illusion of a flower, the model presents the shape of a slender column with the décolletage like a night-blooming flower, that rises in front and plunges to a deep “V” in back, featuring in back a loose tie at the waist, liner of silk in the same shade, of his collection for the Spring of 1963.Givenchy designed for many celebrity clients, including Oscar-winning actress Audrey Hepburn, with whom he would become closely affiliated with in terms of her cinematic style (and not only). He designed her attire for Funny Face(1957) and Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) along with fellow costumier Edith Head, who'd previously handled wardrobe for Hepburn in Sabrina.(Givenchy had in fact first met Hepburn during the film's production, but initially thought he would be receiving a visit from another actress with the same surname, Katharine. They nonetheless eventually hit it off. Audrey presented certain ideas inspired by Givenchy for Sabrina, with Head and her team ultimately coming up with the final looks for the film on their own.) Givenchy also handled design duties on Audrey Hepburn films Love in the Afternoon (1957), Charade (1963), Paris When It Sizzles (1964) and How to Steal a Million (1966). And in 1957 the Givenchy brand released an immensely popular fragrance inspired by Hepburn called L'Interdit. #monsieurgivenchy #hubertdegivenchy #givenchy #paris #hautecouture #audreyhepburn #bertstern #vogue #1963 #60s #historyoffashion #myth #fashionlegacy #histoiredelacouture #fashiongram
Why did you decide to create an Instagram profile like divina_ispirazione?
I created Divina Ispirazione because I wanted do to explained the reason and the feelings that inspired and still inspire many designers. I post an image and, as a caption, a little description. It’s a journey that starts from Charles Frederick Worth, the first designer to put down in name on a label, and it continues with young designers that study in fashion schools all over the world. It’s like a bridge that connects past and future and that explains present. Above all the hashtage I use, #fashionlegacy is the one that most explain this concept.
How do you think fashion from the past can still influence contemporary designers?
Fashion is history and culture and it has so much to tell. It teaches, for example, to connect aestethic and society. Chanel’s little black dress was created in the Twenties because it was the answer to provide a chic “uniform” to all the widows that, after World War I, needed to work. It soon became a fashion phenomenon. Paradoxically, in a fast and globalized world, the desire to look good evolved, but it definetely has ancestral reasons.
Today fashion runs faster and faster and is always looking at what’s next. Why is it important to stop and look at past iconic designers?
Vionnet, Chanel, Balenciaga and Schiaparelli, just to name a few, represented future in their times. Their examples can be considered a modus operandi that should be turned into present, in order to create a future for this industry. Be brave and break the rules to follow their own vision: that’s their greatest teaching.
Christy Turlington, Nadja Auermann, Cyndy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour and Claudia Schiffer in colorful vinyl mini-dresses by Gianni Versace, 1994. Photo by Richard Avedon. By 1970 Versace was experimenting with his own designs. He began by combining colors and fabrics in contradiction to traditional fashion design aesthetics. He designs combined silk and fur and cotton all into one garment, a practice that later became part of the signature Versace look. His work brought him to the attention of three design houses: Callaghan, Complice, and Genny. Versace was hired to design a leather collection for Complice, under the label Complice by Versace, and a dress collection for Genny, under the Genny by Versace, label. These opportunities raised Versace’s profile in the fashion community and allowed him to launch his first women’s collection, under his own label, in 1978. To market his lines, Versace hired American photographer Richard Avedon to shoot catalogs of his collections. The two also collaborated on several books featuring Versace’s work. Versace was known for dressing film and music celebrities. His designs exuded a “rock ‘n’ roll” attitude. Leather, plastics, animal prints, denim, metal mesh, and stretch knits became staples of his flashy designs. While some considered the designs crass, or just plain trashy, other extolled Versace for his flamboyant use of color, texture, and pattern. Celebrities such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Sting, George Michael, and Eric Clapton flocked to Versace for ensembles that matched the images they wished to project. He also designed costumes for his friend, and favorite performer, Elton John, for his world tour in 1992. #gianniversace #richardavedon #christyturlington #nadjaauermann #cindycrawford #stephanieseymour #claudiaschiffer #vogue #1994 #popculture #colors #italianfashion #instafashion #fashionlegacy #90s
Which are the couturiers that are still relevant in contemporary fashion?
Nowadays it’s more important the business that a great name can create than the influence that these designers actually left. I said this with a lot of respect. Last year Dior celebrarted its 70th anniversary: how many fashion addicteds know that only 10 years were actually ruled by Christian Dior himself? 10 years with him and 60 without him, through evolutions, creative directors’ changes and new visions, still see Dior at the top of the fashion industry.
Nowadays designers are so different from their predecessors. Who do you think has an attitude similar to the iconic designers of the past?
That’s true, everything is different, but also the audience has changed. Once designers created silhouettes, now they create attitudes. A designer who is able to connect future’s attitude and past rules definetely wins. I think Demna Gvasalia is doing a great job following a vision like that.
Which are the designers that we should rediscover? Who now is setting the rules, not only in fashion but also in image and communication?
Many designers today are following more market’s rules, instead of setting them, while there’s more strength in advertising and communication, maybe because they fear that a non-conformist creativity could be an insuccess. There’s a big gap between what is worn and how it’s communicated. Fashion needs to give some free space to young designers, that are more willing to dare because they have nothing to lose. Just like Cristobal Balenciaga did, renovating Spanish fashion traditions. This is #fashionlegacy.