fashion designer duo, milan
ROSITA GIA and CECILIA FEDERICO
interview by VALERIA DELLA VALLE
photography by ALESSANDRA D’URSO
style by MAURO DEMESTRIA
make-up by SARA BUSAN
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — When did you decide to create Archivio?
ROSITA GIA — Years ago. After graduating, I went to New York. There, I realized how fascinated people are by Italians and the “Made in Italy” brand. We started to speak about the possibility of creating a label that would pay tribute to our Italian roots; this is also the reason our production process is quite slow — the clothes are entirely hand-sewn by seamstresses from Southern Italy, women who’ve grown up with a needle and thread in their fingers. Later on, we took a trip to Israel, and we fell in love with the uniforms Israeli women were wearing and started to reinvent them. That was the moment Archivio stopped being an idea and became more concrete.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Archivio in Italian means “archive.” Why did you choose this name?
CECILIA FEDERICO — What we do is look back at iconic classics and reinvent them. In that respect, this name seemed perfect. It’s also a beautiful, clear, strong Italian word.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — You’re strongly inspired by the ’90s. What draws you to that decade?
CECILIA FEDERICO — It’s the time we would have wanted to live in. Those were the years of new kinds of models and attitudes.
They were strong, shameless, pro- vocative. Women were real women — they had a super-sexy femininity and, more importantly, they knew how to play with it.
We’re both very conscious about our- selves, about our femininity. This is the kind of attitude we’d like Archivio to inspire.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — How have your very distinct backgrounds shaped who you are and how you work?
ROSITA GIA — I was born under the sun of Southern Italy, surrounded by nature that was kind of romantic, I’d say. I’m a dreamer.
Cecilia grew up watching MTV, influenced by that kind of American trash culture. The game is to mix all this up.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Archivio seems to be the result of a paradox, such as your search for femininity through male forms. The woman you present is sexy but masculine. How has your interest in male fashion influenced your work?
ROSITA GIA — The cuts and structure of men’s fashion have always fascinated me. The typical double-breasted coat worn by men from the late ’70s is a major reference in my work — it’s a model of perfection. People always complain that the male wardrobe offers little room for improvement, but I think that’s proof of its virtuosity and classical elegance. You can play with textures and colors — why alter the structure?
I try to transfer this elegance into the women’s collections.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Would you define your label as multidisciplinary?
ROSITA GIA — We do. To be honest, fashion is just an element of our work. We nourish Archivio with our curiosity for the world in general: art, travel, culture, cinema… Our main aspiration is to collaborate with artists, to create installations and video clips.
Recently we discovered a Norwegian music duo called Smerz, two girls doing electronic music. We hope to collaborate with them for the next fashion season. We look for girls like that all the time, especially on Instagram.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Is Instagram your main promotional instrument?
ROSITA GIA — Yes. We grew up in the digital era, so we tend to take advantage of it. For us, Instagram is a way not just to let people know about us, but also to know people. It’s a research tool. Above all, it’s a way to connect directly with the client without passing through the sellers. Our Instagram direct message is always full of requests from all over the world. It’s a precious resource for us: it’s not easy for a young designer to encounter the buyer today.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Doesn’t Milan give young designers more opportunities?
CECILIA FEDERICO — Milan could do more. We do love Milan — we became adults here, we live here, Archivio was born here.
But the reality is that the fashion system is still quite narrow. It’s hard to get buyers and institutions to believe in new brands, in new projects. They’re scared that young people will fail.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — What kind of women wear Archivio?
CECILIA FEDERICO — Honestly, wearing Archivio isn’t easy. You must be a woman free from taboos, who doesn’t care about the latest trend inculcated by a random fashion blogger… It’s a woman who wants to say something about herself, who’s got a strong personality and takes pleasure playing with it. I designed an accessories collection that’s almost fetishistic, in black leather. You must be aware of your sensuality to be able to wear them. Otherwise, you will get it all wrong, and the result would be a disaster.
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — The model for your first women’s collection is a trans. What made you choose a transgender model?
ROSITA GIA — We didn’t use her strategically. We just liked the way she was interpreting the clothes. The female collection suited him so well. She was perfect!
VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Gender doesn’t really exist, but sexuality does and must be explored: is this what your work is trying to say?
CECILIA FEDERICO — That’s the point.
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by Karley Sciortino
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by Aaron Rose
by Camille Vivier
by Daniel Pinchbeck
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by Jack Pierson
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