Gabriele Melodia is an Italian Fashion Designer and Illustrator. Everything starts with a drawing that catapults the viewers into the past, into another era. Gabriele defines himself as a 17th century boy living in the 21st century. We had a conversation with him to get to know his story and his artistic vision.
Whenever I sit down to draw a garment or an illustration, I never know what I'm going to do. The only thing I know is that my creation will be influenced by my knowledge, sensations, experiences, and emotions of the moment.
Hello Gabriele, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Gabriele Melodia, I am 24 years old and born in Palermo, Italy. I am a Fashion Designer and Fashion Illustrator. I graduated in Fashion Design from the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo.
How are you doing?
I feel good. We are all experiencing a period of uncertainty due to the pandemic, but I decided to take advantage of the days we spent in lockdown: instead of giving way to laziness, I decided to dedicate myself to different projects, including the creation of different illustrations and collaborations with newspapers and online media.
How is your typical day?
My typical day is never the same. Some days I spend most of my time drawing, others I read around-the-clock or watch many films. These are all activities that allow me to remain creatively active. I am a very curious person and I believe that in the world of fashion, culture plays a fundamental role, because behind every collection and design there is always a story, a research, an imaginary world that comes to life from ideas, readings, paintings and so on.
Tell us about your art.
I don't usually define my works as art since it would be pretentious on my part. I leave it to others to define my works. My creations can be interpreted in many different ways, and every person looking at them will see something different. This is my favourite part of the artistic process: the intimate relationship that blossoms between the viewer and the dress, between the viewer and the design. Everything I create bursts from a basic improvisation, preceded by a cultural and iconographic research. To give an example, whenever I sit down to draw a garment or an illustration, I never know what I'm going to do. The only thing I know is that my creation will be influenced by my knowledge, sensations, experiences, and emotions of the moment.
I knew deep down that I was fascinated by it, unconsciously. I remember that when I was younger I didn't miss an episode of America's Next Top Model, Project Runway and Accessories.
Initially you wanted to attend Language Mediation course at the University of Palermo. When did you realize fashion was your calling? Were you afraid of the change?
Foreign languages were always very captivating so, once I got my high school diploma in humanities, I decided to take this path. I can't say I have always been a fashion buff, but for sure deep down I knew that I was fascinated by it, unconsciously. I remember that when I was younger I didn't miss an episode of America's Next Top Model, Project Runway and Accesories. I still have a vivid memory of me smiling every time I saw the designer come out at the end of a fashion show. Even if that world quietly charmed me more and more, I thought I could never be part of it. I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t sew, I couldn’t do anything. I really believed that fashion was not the path for me. For this reason, in 2014 I tried to get in the Linguistic Mediation course at University of Palermo, but I was not admitted. That was the push I needed: I decided to take the reins of my life and follow the passion that, even if on the sly, had constantly been with me until that day: fashion! My new goal was to get in the Fashion Design course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo, so I began to study History of Fashion and Costume every day and to draw continuously. After taking several tests, I was finally admitted: I was in the seventh heaven because I could finally follow my true passion, still keeping in mind that of foreign languages were fundamental in the world of fashion. I took two birds with one stone and my new life finally began.
Everything is linked. History, art, music, theater, literature, drawing. Everything is fashionable: fashion reflects the spirit of the time (the German "Zeitgeist"), and to catch that spirit, you need to know what is happening all over the world, in all fields.
What inspires you?
Everything around me is an inspiration. I learned that in life you must always keep eyes open, because even the smallest detail can throw you in a reality without limits, creatively stimulating, where you can discover the deepest secrets of existence. One of my most important inspirational elements is music, going from 17th century artists to the latest Lady Gaga album, without setting any limits to my imagination.
History is another great passion of mine and it plays an important role in my creation process. For example, I like to study and deepen the history of the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing on the French amazing Palace of Versailles and its court. I am talking about the era of Roi Soleil, large wigs and baroque. But I also draw inspiration from paintings by Toulouse – Lautrec, whose ladies of the Moulin Rouge remind me of the wonderful women painted by Boldini. As you can see, everything is linked. History, art, music, theater, literature, drawing. Everything is fashionable: fashion reflects the spirit of the time (the German "Zeitgeist"), and to catch that spirit, you need to know what is happening all over the world, in all fields.
"I believe that in addition to offering clothes, fashion offers a world the consumer can be part of. A vision. A short-lived dream. I like the idea of being able to tell a story with my clothes."
Is Siciliy, your home region, an important element in your work?
We can say that Sicily is present in my works but not in the way one might expect it. You will not find Sicilian floats, baroque prints, gold or other typical Sicilian tradition symbols. My creations assimilate Sicilian culture from a social point of view. Sicily taught me the importance of openness, hospitality, cultural exchange and all of this takes place in my creations. When I design a collection, I turn my mind towards non-existent realities, taking inspiration from cultural, historical, artistic references etc. to create something new. I have always tried to push myself to the limit and challenge myself, facing different topics from different points of view, constantly observing from different angles. Sometimes, some of my designs have been defined "strange", since they did not respect the classic canons of "nice dress to wear". However, I believe that in addition to offering clothes, fashion offers a world the consumer can be a part of. A vision. A short-lived dream. I like the idea of being able to tell a story with my clothes.
Tell us about your work at Massimo Theatre’s tailoring. What did you learn?
The experience at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo has been wonderful. I had the opportunity to collaborate with the seamstresses of the theatre and to help them make any repairs or adjustments to any accessory or costume. I also assisted the general organization of two plays: "A Midsummer night's dream" and "Adriana Lecouvreur", participating in the fittings with the artists, sending the costumes from the tailor's office to the Theatre, ordering the accessories and assigning them to each artist and finally dressing the artists of the choir before they enter the scene. All these tasks made me a much more responsible person: they helped me learn discipline, respect for the timing and the work that takes place behind a great show. During the “Adriana Lecouvreur” organization, I also had the chance to meet the great Sopranos Angela Gheorghiu and Fiorenza Cedolins, the Mezzosoprano Marianne Cornetti and Maestro Daniel Oren. Being surrounded by all those costumes, by all those creatives and professionals, hearing the music play from behind the scenes, dark and silent and hearing the applause of the audience was a unique experience I will never forget.
I think of my drawings as connections between people, a way for creating empathy. Sometimes these connections happen, others they don't.
What are the emotions you want transmit?
As I said before, everyone, looking at my creations whether they are clothes or illustrations, perceive something different from the others. When I happen to give someone a design of mine, it is as if I were transmitting that person a feeling, a thought, an emotion I felt during the realization of the illustration. At the same time, that person will perceive and feel something that is part of me, but this can change from receiver to receiver since I don’t feel a single emotion but a whole stream of feelings during the creation process. I think of my drawings as connections between people, a way for creating empathy. Sometimes these connections happen, others they don't. I don't insist on this to happen, but if it does it makes me very happy.
Do you think your art has evolved since you’ve been selected by Altaroma?
Being chosen by Altaroma certainly made me grow a lot, both as a creative and as a person. Before sending my application to participate in the "Portfolio Review" (project in collaboration with Vogue Italia led by Simonetta Gianfelici and Sara Sozzani Maino), I started experimenting with the single line drawing technique, creating minimal portraits of people close to me. Rather than making the portrait of someone already well known, I wanted to give importance to the people in my life. Day after day, I tried to interiorize and make this technique my own, so much so as to employ it for the realization of the illustration which was then chosen as the representative of the January 2020 Rome Fashion Week advertising campaign, organized by Altaroma. Being selected among so many illustrators gave me an extra boost, making me believe that, if you really want it and are willing to fight, life can give you fantastic and unique experiences. I had the chance to attend several fashion shows as a guest and I had the honor of meeting Silvia Venturini Fendi, president of Altaroma and designer of the Fendi collections, receiving her congratulations. This experience certainly gave me the opportunity to be reach a wider audience and allowed me to widen my horizons as an illustrator, making my style even more recognized. A daydream that that boy who looked at America's next supermodel many years ago would have never thought of living. I have always worked hard and fought harder to achieve my goals and will continue to do so.
What are your future projects?
After concluding my Altaroma experience and having focused for a few months on fashion illustration, I am now perfecting my Portfolio as a Fashion Designer. My goal is to enter a fashion company and start gaining experience. I'm not going to create my own brand yet (which is why I still don't see many of my clothes around), but who knows in the future.
Follow Gabriele Melodia's work on Instagram.
Interview & Article by
Vivian di Lorenzo