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Giada’s Work of Art


Italian Luxury Label Giada Enlists Master Of Photography Paolo Roversi To Bring Gabriele Colangelo’s Artistic Vision For The FW21 Collection To Life

By Dao Tran

Italian luxury label Giada is known for sophisticated elegance and timeless design in the most exclusive and precious natural fabrics such as silk and cashmere. Creative Director Gabriele Colangelo helms the house with an artist’s sensibility for beauty and culture, a visionary’s drive for innovative and quality materials, and an idealist’s dream of evolution and transcendence. He comes from a family in fur and leather, so he is deeply knowledgeable about the highest-grade products and manufacturing processes. As a winner of the Who’s on Next prize and finalist for the LVMH one, Colangelo is widely recognized for his minimalistic modernism and impeccable design.

For the FW21 collection, Giada has enlisted the grandmaster of fashion photography, Paolo Roversi, to create works of art that perfectly capture and convey the message of beauty behind the new season. In keeping with Colangelo’s design philosophy of thinking of fashion as a form of art, the images reflect the level of culture and aesthetic connoisseurship enjoyed by the Giada woman. These allow the incredible handicraft and artisanry of the pieces to come to light in poetic photographs which are the result of a unique technique themselves. 

This holistic approach to communicating fashion will be unveiled on March 1 at Giada House on Montenapoleone in Milan. The images will be exhibited in large format in a gallery show on the main floor, including a making of video, and the second floor will showcase the collection on mannequins. The Impression’s Dao Tran talked to Gabriele Colangelo and Paolo Roversi per Zoom about fashion’s ability to evoke emotions and inspire dreams, a message of hope in art and beauty and love, and how to communicate effectively in this changed landscape.

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Gabriele Colangelo

Dao Tran: How would you define the Giada woman?

Gabriele Colangelo: For me, the Giada woman is a strong and delicate with a deep consciousness of her femininity. She doesn’t have to show too much of herself. She buys her clothes for herself rather than to please others. It’s more about a confident femininity. But at the same time, she is gentle. My work is dedicated to a kind of woman who has a deep culture, who can very much appreciate the quality, the details, also the small things in a garment. Maybe also the things which are not immediately visible, but that you have to discover wearing them. The kind of coats or dresses that need a kind of consciousness of an own personality.

Dao Tran: How do you serve this quiet exquisiteness?

Gabriele Colangelo: First of all, it happens in the construction of the collection from the concept. The concept is always something which is always very connected to art. This, for me, is the thing that already gives a higher level to a Giada collection. So, the interpretation of an art element or suggestion that I can find from an exhibition or that I see from an artist, or sometimes, also a kind of selection that I make, as in this season about nature. It gives a level of quality to the collection. 

Then, this is translated in the materials. For Giada, materials are very important, we place great emphasis on the preciousness of the raw material. Cashmere is our first and most important material. Especially in this show collection, I decided to use a very exclusive and precious type of material called yangir cashmere, which is a very rare and specific type of cashmere that makes the collection more exclusive and luxury. 

Luxury, for me, is nothing that has to be visually demonstrated in any case. It’s more about the value of the garment itself. The quality is in the concept, the material, like cashmere or the silken wool that we sometimes work with. Furthermore, it is expressed in the perfection of the manufacturing.

We work with the most clever Italian artisans to do our doublé coats. I mean, you can appreciate the expensive feeling of the collection when you see it and feel it, because it’s very well done and the materials are beautiful.

Paolo Roversi: I think Gabriele is not doing just clothes for a market… He’s trying to put his idea far; he works with another vision. He really has a vision, you know. And for me, too, it’s a question of vision. To see something else than just the reality, to see beyond the reality, beyond the surface of the things.

Dao Tran: How do you communicate this to the audience?

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Paolo Roversi

Gabriele Colangelo: That’s more difficult. Because it depends on the type of people or customer that can approach this collection. It’s a person that needs to have a type of culture and a type of understanding of what makes something very special and exclusive. I try to communicate the quality of the Giada clothes in the quality of the Giada images – for example, this season, working with the amazing Paolo Roversi to produce these truly inspired images. It’s part of the general concept that we take care of every detail and aspect of the communication of the brand – from the selection of the photographer, the model, the type of photography that we want to have, the images that we produce. 

Paolo Roversi: It’s always interesting for me because a dress is born little by little – first, it’s a drawing on paper, then the fabric is cut, then it’s sewn. And then, suddenly, there is a magic moment when you put the dress on a woman, this is finally when the dress exists, this is a crucial moment, and I love that.

Dao Tran: And then the moment when it’s captured, in an image, by you.

Paolo Roversi: Exactly.

Dao Tran: So, tell me about the shoot!

Gabriele Colangelo: It was amazing.

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Paolo is a real master of photography; he is a true artist. He’s a photographer, but most of all, for me, he is a poet and his images are poetry. We shot at his studio in Paris, which is aptly named Studio Luce, because the way he creates images is like painting with light.

In fact, photography comes from the ancient Greek words which mean writing or drawing by light.

Paolo Roversi: The lighting was special because I lit with a little pocket lamp. I used it like a paintbrush, like painting with light. You use it like this, as if you were painting the girl, painting her dress.

Dao Tran: When you talk about using the light like that, was it like how Picasso did it?

Paolo Roversi: Yes, not the same quality of Picasso, but I try to do my best. But you have to see it in person, because you can’t imagine exactly how it works. It’s total darkness because the light can express itself in the darkness, not in the light.

Gabriele Colangelo: We had a conversation at the beginning of the shoot about how to communicate the meaning and the concept of the collection through the images. I remember that he has used an amazing technique in the past which involves working directly on the surface of the image, and asked him if it would be possible to do that again because it was something very special and would be perfect for this collaboration. He agreed and was enthusiastic to do this kind of treatment of the images again. The result looks as if he had painted the images on a special type of paper. 

Paolo Roversi: I put a kind of organic surface like the bark of the trees; it went very well with the clothes and the fabrics. With this kind of surface, it’s as if the image is painted on a kind of paper with this kind of special technique. It’s like when you do an aquarelle on paper with this material.

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Gabriele Colangelo: I think this is a way to give Giada’s meaning of fashion, which is, for me, a form of art. I think Paolo Roversi’s type of photography and this very exclusive technique will produce the kind of images that express our concept very well. It was really extraordinary to assist on this shoot. Sometimes, everybody was silent and waiting with bated breath for this kind of miracle, which was the photography. And when it appeared on the video screen, it was like, “Wow!” It’s very nice because this means that fashion can elicit emotions. And emotions are really important, especially in a moment like this, when the emotions of all the people are like frozen. It truly warmed our hearts to do this work.

Paolo Roversi: The shoot was really magical because we had a great team, my usual team and his team, it was a really magic team. And the girl, Cyrielle Lalande, a beautiful girl, perfect for this kind of clothes. I really enjoyed working with her.

Dao Tran: Tell me about the symbolism around your theme of trees.

Gabriele Colangelo: Following the last collection, which was grounded in the earth and soil, this collection continues the connection to nature. In winter, the trees might look barren, but there is a lot happening energetically underground, they are working hard to send out fresh shoots and new life in the spring, continuing the cycle of life. It is kind of parallel to what we are going through now.

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Trees are also a beautiful symbol because they are very grounded and sink their roots deep in the earth, but at the same time, they stretch their branches and reach for the heavens. I think it is appropriate to the times that we seek security and stability, but also have room to dream. Trees are the connection between earth and sky – a nice combination of opposites and a good metaphor of our lives, of people that have a body, but at the same time, we have the mind, we have the soul, we have the thoughts, which are more connected to something which is transcendent. 

Dao Tran: How do you translate this message into the collection?

Gabriele Colangelo: To create the print of the season, I was especially interested in the surface of the trees, which have these beautiful patterns and this kind of organic movement. I integrated these elements in the collection, taking artistic inspiration from the bark patterns in Ryan Tippery’s work. This works very well with Giada’s signature black and white and natural palette, with strong accents in black or red, and geometric shapes. It is in keeping with the typical Giada DNA, yet with an organic evolution.

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Paolo Roversi: The colors are absolutely magic, you know? These little nuances of beige, and suddenly: red – but a special red, orange-red, beautiful. 

Gabriele Colangelo: I also worked with our producers in Italy to develop special fabrics – as I said, this is a very important philosophy of Giada – to translate the pattern and lightness and movement of the trees. The first treatment is to produce this zibeline effect on the surface of the cashmere, which gives it sort of a very soft wave effect so it’s not flat, but has this kind of organic movement and pattern. This was also applied to another type of fabric, a special bouclé. A bouclé is that kind of curly material which is made of wool, but we gave it the same kind of treatment as the cashmere and used it for a doublé coat, which made the garment more light and also more comfortable when you wear it. 

But the most special material that I developed this season – it took 2 months to develop it – is one which is two layers of silk organza, and in the middle of these two layers, there are floating threads of different gauge mohair and cashmere. It has this beautiful degradé effect because it starts heavy, but then becomes super soft and transparent. This also conveys the meaning of the collection related to the trees, because the heavy part can be the part which is connected to the earth, but then the lighter part is the part oriented to the sky, and it is beautiful to have it on the same surface. The beauty of this is that it’s in one fabric, so there is this sort of metamorphosis.

Paolo Roversi: Very high quality, the fabrics – that’s why we have this fluidity, even if the lines are strict in a certain way, we found a certain fluidity with the fabric.

Dao Tran: Amazing. There must also be an interesting play of light and movement.

Gabriele Colangelo: Yes. You know I’m not a fan of shiny or sparkly, but I really like to find the light also in the mesh material. That’s why I’m speaking about the zibeline effect on the cashmere or this uniquely produced type of organza – when you have the material on the machine, it is done with two threads of silk, one is in white, the other one is in black, when they are put together, they create this special reflection of the light, which changes with where your eye catches the light on the fabric. You also see the different reflections on the light depending on the different materials that you use, like mesh threads or something like that. So it doesn’t have to necessarily be something sparkly to be special. 

Dao Tran: How very special.

Gabriele Colangelo: Also, we have some clothes in the collection which are made with a very high quality of leather called plongé. It’s so soft that we combine this kind of leather with silk cady. One of the nicest pieces of the collection is a trench coat that is leather in the front and in the back, it’s silk cut in 100 stripes, and in the middle of the stripes, you have this triangle of fabric which gives volume to the garment. So the strictness of the front is contrasted with the very feminine and very delicate back, which delicately sways with the woman’s every move.

Dao Tran: That sounds beautiful, but also like a lot of work!

Gabriele Colangelo: Yes, there is a lot of work in the pleating. But the beauty of this is that it is not the result of a mechanical process – the classic plissé – but rather a product of meticulous manufacturing. To be exact: The fabric is cut and sewn together again with an insert in the middle, which gives a lot of volume to the skirt part of the dress. There is a lot of work in terms of production of this kind of dress. Also in the study of the pattern, which took a lot, especially to find the right balance to the upper part, which is quite flat and then becomes very voluminous towards the bottom of the dress. In this case, I avoided to use the classic plissé because I wanted to do something which is more special, more artisanal, and also to emphasize the craftsmanship behind the collection.

Dao Tran: It sounds like you’ve innovated many things for this collection.

Gabriele Colangelo: Yes. For me, the challenge is to create something that people are used to seeing in a certain way – pleating has existed for a long time – but in this way, it’s different. With cashmere, there are a million types of cashmere, but the zibeline treatment makes it more exclusive.

That’s why when I speak about Giada, I speak about a sort of forward timeless classicism. It’s a sort of renovation of something which is classic, but through a new filter, it can become something which is completely different from the past. 

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Dao Tran: Tell me about the limited edition.

Gabriele Colangelo: Since two seasons, we decided that coats are our best items to feature in this very limited edition. There are just ten pieces, but they are super luxurious. These highly exclusive coats are special – not only in the pattern, but also in the research of the material. For example, in this collection, we used that very precious type of cashmere called yangir, or a mix between mink and cashmere, or chinchilla. It is qualified by the quality of the fabric and the finishing of the material. 

Dao Tran: How secretly decadent. Covid has changed the way people live and a lot of people are wearing more comfortable clothes now. But it seems like Giada has always emphasized a level of comfort. 

Gabriele Colangelo: Absolutely. For me, luxury also has to be something which you wear and you feel comfortable. That’s the best goal that you can achieve, when you feel beautiful, but at the same time you feel strong and confident and comfortable. I think comfort in this moment is absolutely important.

Dao Tran: Luxury can often be very ostentatious and glaring, but Giada represents a very quiet elegance that is more discreet, which feels like an appropriate message for now.

Gabriele Colangelo: Yes. But, above all, it’s a message of beauty. I think we need messages of beauty in this moment. There was a moment in fashion where weird was cool. For me, this is a moment of just beauty. That’s why I want to work with people who give me beauty and positive energies. This collaboration with Paolo Roversi was for me a sort of renovation of beautiful energies and positive things. It was one of the days where I can say, “I love my work!” I think this is also a nice message for the person who buys this collection, because they can also appreciate the beauty through the clothes and the images that we give them. It’s the time of beauty, beauty with a deep message inside.

Paolo Roversi: I am always in search of beauty, in search of elegance. And that’s why I like to work with Gabriele, because he’s a master of elegance and beauty.

Dao Tran: I think you lensing the campaign is the perfect fit for Giada because the brand DNA and Gabriele’s design philosophy is also very subtle and poetic and beautiful, like the way you work. 

PR: Yes. For me, it was very inspiring to work with these clothes of this brand and designed by Gabriele. It’s very inspiring because the dresses are beautiful. The lines are very pure, very poetic and fluid, and there is a kind of movement. And they are very feminine. A little mysterious, also. Just what I like. It is as if they come out from a dream, you know.

For me, it’s about all that – it’s about creativity, imagination, fantasy and dream. It’s not a world of rationality, of science, or precision. It’s a poetic world.

Gabriele Colangelo: I mean, I was so happy to work with Paolo. He was, for me, from the beginning of my career, a master. It was also so nice because the atmosphere was very familiar, he’s also Italian. And Paolo is the type of person that always loves to have people who work with him in a very serene and simple, calm atmosphere. You can feel this through the images, which is amazing. I think our work that day shows in a very transparent way what we were feeling and our soul in that moment – he really brought it to life. At the end of the day, we were all so happy, we went home smiling.

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Dao Tran: You both have a very gentle way.

Gabriele Colangelo: Also gentleness is a beautiful message to give. I think Paolo’s images and the Giada collection have this kind of gentle beauty as a message to give.

Paolo Roversi:

I think art and beauty are the only things that can save us. Art and beauty is our greatest hope.

And love, of course. We can keep dreaming. The virus can take from us the work, the restaurants, the cinema, everything, but it can’t take away from us the spirit, the soul. It can’t touch our soul, our ideas.

Dao Tran: Art and beauty and love are absolutely what got us through last year. Would you say the changes wrought about by the pandemic in presenting a collection have actually afforded you the opportunity to better communicate the concept, handicraft and artisanry behind the work?

Gabriele Colangelo: At the beginning, I was a bit shocked not doing shows because I was quite used to doing it. And I cannot hide that the adrenalin is so amazing when you prepare a show, though at the same time stressful. But, the pandemic in a way gave me the possibility to reflect more about how I can express my concept and my vision in a different way. And, I have to say, photography at the moment represents a very interesting way to communicate the world of a brand. Especially for a brand like Giada, where the coats are minimal and the best way to appreciate the clothes is seeing them very close and appreciating the quality, the details, the small elements that in a runway show for sure you cannot see, you just have the feeling in that moment. Also, the photography and the light that we decided to use, the treatment on the picture, the type of woman we are shooting – I think it’s much stronger and gives a new tale to the people that see the collection. The only thing which is missing is to see the clothes in reality.

Dao Tran: Which is a big thing. But you have that in the flagship for the presentation. 

Gabriele Colangelo: Yes, there will be a setup on the first floor with the collection, so people can see the clothes. The Giada store is divided in two parts – one part we usually call the concept store, which is more about communicating ideas, creating events. This time, for the collaboration with Paolo, we decided to rethink the space as a kind of photographic art gallery, so we will have the pictures printed in large format and framed. 

Dao Tran: Good luck with the presentation – I can’t wait to see the collection and the images!

Gabriele Colangelo: Thank you so much. Ciao, grazie!

Paolo Roversi: Thank you very much!