Silvia Barbieri is a young fashion designer who thinks that fashion has to be also functional and not just something beautiful to wear. Two of her latest projects include Eurovision Song Contest and fashion for disability.
HI SILVIA! WE AT DARECLAN HAVE ALREADY HAD THE PLEASURE OF TALKING WITH YOU ABOUT YOUR ART, FASHION, AND HOW YOU LOVE TO CREATE CLOTHES INSPIRED BY DIFFERENT WORLDS, SUCH AS THEATRE. YOUR FIRST INTERVIEW WITH US WAS TWO YEARS AGO, HAS YOUR VISION OF FASHION CHANGED SINCE THEN? HOW ARE YOU GROWING AS A FASHION DESIGNER AND STYLIST?
I don't think my vision of fashion has changed in the last two years, but it has simply evolved. An evolution that differentiates the basis of my new projects. Before starting any work related to research, analysis and planning, I ask myself many more questions. Questions that, more than anything else, concern the concrete usefulness of future products and the interest they might find on the market.
I continue to observe with curiosity the different worlds, which have always been a source of my inspiration, trying to find interesting connections with fashion. On 25 March, about a month ago, I finally completed my academic career, graduating with top marks. This is a great satisfaction that has generated in me a greater desire to enrich myself with new knowledge about the complex world of fashion. After all, you never stop learning, studying and improving.
YOUR CLOTHES WILL DRESS VLADANA VUCINIC, THE MONTENEGRIN SINGER WHO WILL REPRESENT HER COUNTRY AT THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2022 IN TURIN. AS A FASHION DESIGNER, THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENT BECAUSE YOUR CLOTHES WILL GAIN VISIBILITY. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
Yes, it's true, it's a truly remarkable achievement but, at the same time, significant. For us, young designers, these are opportunities that don't come along often or easily and, for this very reason, I consider myself very lucky. Vladana requested the outfits from my collection "A Shot in the Dark" (presented at Fashion Graduate Italia 2020). A very futuristic collection that has been appreciated but also criticised.
Maybe because it focuses on the evolution of new shapes, new volumes, new techniques...new visions. How many people, in a critical way, have asked me this question: "Yes, it's innovative. But who will ever wear a collection like this!" And now I can safely say "Vladana Vucinic has worn it and will wear it during some important events of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022". It is also a very personal satisfaction. It was amazing to hear the singer saying that, during the Barcelona Eurovision Party, journalists were very curious about the applied press and couldn't believe that it was iron oxide in magnetic traction.
WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE GREATEST SATISFACTIONS OF YOUR WORK?
During my studies, I applied for different contests and just "being selected" to be among the set number of participants made me very satisfied. They are opportunities that allow you to grow, to compare yourself and to challenge your skills. But, for now, the greatest satisfaction was the goal achieved with my thesis. A project based on the experimental development of a new adaptive modelling for a non-ambulatory male body.
Initially, the idea of starting a similar work frightened me because in Italy there are no studies, research or archives relating to this type of clothing. Of course, everything new scares me. I thought I wasn't up to dealing with such a problem because it was much bigger than me but, thanks to constant study and sacrifices, I achieved my goal. I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Anna Simonetti, who accompanied me during this important milestone. Her perseverance is a great inspiration to me.
YOU ARE ALSO DEVELOPING A VERY IMPORTANT PROJECT THAT CONCERNS "ADAPTIVE EXPERIMENTAL MODELLING FOR A NON-DAMBULATING MALE BODY". WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE THIS WITH US?
In recent years, Adaptive Fashion has only been of interest to a few Italian fashion houses. A few wheelchairs on the catwalk or a few nice shots on the cover. And then what? It doesn't go beyond the exclusivity of the news.
So the aim is to be able to provide all the modelling bases necessary to start up a production of basic or semi-elegant adaptive clothing which, as well as facilitating dressing and undressing, manages to have an identity inherent to the fashions and trends of the moment.
Prior to the start of the practical work, interviews were documented with some of the target group and their families. The surveys revealed an important demand for adaptive clothing, which is especially absent in the Italian market. Based on the numerous problems and needs, respective solutions were studied.
Anthropometric analysis allowed the comparison of a walking male body with a non-ambulatory male body. The results recorded determined the new adaptive fit.
After careful learning of the main regular male modelling basics, the right transformations with the respective hidden adaptive openings were established. Following documentation of the prototype tests, the new fit, the different transformations and the respective adaptive openings were confirmed.
On the basis of extensive research, the style of the collection was defined with the respective mood board, colour and fabric chart, trend and collection design.
"THROUGHmyTOTEM Limited Edition" is a limited collection aimed at a male audience aged between sixteen and thirty-five. It is made up of five outfits that can be combined with each other and which, in addition to having all adaptive comforts, is inherent to the trends of the moment. "Through my Totem" because, according to the cult of Totemism, each person possesses the spirit of all the Totem animals, but only one prevails more than the others. In order to deal with certain situations, a voluntary possession linked to animal instinct is manifested.
The results achieved fully demonstrate the effectiveness of the project.
The analyses carried out meet the needs of paraplegics, tetraplegics and a rare case of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In addition, to emphasise the importance of smart clothes, the Electric Heating Pad USB/Power Bank was introduced into the collection, which is an adjustable and removable heating device.
The study of this project showed that there is a big gap in the Italian market but also a big market in the gap.
I THINK WITH THIS PROJECT YOU MANAGE TO SEE FASHION FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE BY PUTTING PEOPLE, WHO UNFORTUNATELY HAVE MOTOR PROBLEMS AND HAVE TO GIVE UP WHAT FASHION HAS TO OFFER, ON THE FRONT LINE. IS THAT RIGHT?
Yes, it is crazy to think how many young people, on special occasions, have to give up elegance in the name of comfort. What is worrying is the absence of shops or departments concentrating solely on this type of clothing. Just take a tour of the many courses in this wonderful country of ours or a quick search on the e-commerce platform to realise this. There is an increased presence of pet clothing shops! And this is a very worrying and sad reality.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE WORLD OF FASHION TRAVELS SO FAST AND IS ALWAYS UP-TO-DATE WITH MAJOR CHANGES, FASHION HOUSES STILL STRUGGLE TO FIND THE "RIGHT SPACE" TO PROPOSE PROJECTS THAT ARE BOTH INNOVATIVE AND THAT ARE ALSO ATTENTIVE TO THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?
I think the main reason is based on the fact that the target audience is actually a niche in the Italian market, which in turn is divided into many other small niches. The causes that make people not walking are many, specific and different. It would be impossible to generalise solutions on clothing. It would mean dividing up the analyses, research, studies, model transformations, respective openings, prototype tests and productions. All of this involves more expense, time and employees.
AT THE END OF YOUR THESIS YOU WRITE THE SENTENCE: 'START SMALL BUT THINK BIG'. CAN THIS BE CONSIDERED A BIT OF YOUR MOTTO?
Absolutely. I've always seen this 'dream of mine' as a bit like living in a maze-like video game divided into different levels. Before you get to victory you start at the first level, with nothing. As you progress, you gain knowledge, obtain tools and unlock doors that give you access to the next level. Starting also means being able to fail. Failure is part of the evolutionary process of a project, you should never change or abandon your goal, the only thing you need to change is the plan, the strategy, the path, the way to get there, where you really want to be.
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Images provided by Silvia