For the past weeks I have had the pleasure of getting to know a young Italian designer, Barbara Bologna, who’s brand, Area di Bologna Barbara, has completely swept me off with it’s dark playfulness, shapes and materials. After our excessive email exchanges and facebook chats, I decided to share this still rather unknown gem with you in the form of an interview with the head designer herself. I am positive that we will hear good things about Area in the future, so I advice you to continue reading further.
What is the story behind your brand Area di Bologna Barbara?
B: I started making accessories and selling them in a very small number of Italian stores. Afterwards, I began thinking that the accessory could expand and became stronger, so I started creating accessories that were like dresses or dresses that had parts of an accessory; after this route I began to realize the total look nearly as a physiological and unforced evolution, adding in every season new parts, shoes, jewels, etc. in order to have a complete collection in every detail. Each collection has a strong emotional concept and I needed that everything could carry the same sign. I did not want some of the parts to be missing; I wished that anything that a woman was able to wear, could carry the concept of the collection so that she could never forget it. I love to think that each person wearing parts of my collections conveys something beyond the dress or the accessory.
Where do you strive inspiration for your designs?
B: From art, from music, from theatre. I started my career as a performer and stage director, but first of all as a sculptress and this is for me a very strong source of inspiration. My route, the artists that I met and studied, are my muses and mothers. Often it is sufficient for me to observe a detail of a work to visualize an image, which surfaces in my mind and gradually completes itself. Music should never be missing.
How is your design process like?
B: I don’t really know how to explain where the realization of a collection begins, perhaps from a sensation of what I am living in that moment or often from the sensation of a future that will soon materialize. I choose the materials immediately through deep researches on quality and innovation of the fibers and sometimes unusual mixes, I always start from the matter in which I feel my origin. The models arise by themselves, I wake up and I draw, I travel and I draw, I eat and I draw but I never choose to do it, the models choose for me.
Often I realize the models in paper but I want the manufacturing to be absolutely made in the Italian laboratory where the production takes part; this because the model shown to the buyers has to be identical in shape and quality to the one that will be delivered. I often follow the realization of the models in the laboratory; I lack the mistakes and find solutions that I did not consider before. When the garment is finished (for me) begins the phase that I prefer, that is to say managing to complete the work, so giving life to the collection’s concept with images, videos, and music. This last one composed by an artist which is also a friend of mine, Letizia Argenziano, that realizes the collection soundtracks with me.
Tell me about the latest collection S/S12 and the ideas behind it.
B: My last collection S/S 12 “Paradies” comes up tied to the previous one A/W 11/12 “Purgatoire” and will be also be tied to the next collection A/W 12/13 “INFERNO”. I wanted to analyze and create this collection trilogy to represent what these three places mean to me. Particularly, S/S 12 “Paradies” (the paradise) is the place from which we depart, the white place in which we find the carnal emotions (alternated passion) and long wires that tie us to this place that we love, from which we cannot separate ourselves, strong emotions, opposed colors in a completely empty space, white, red and black and a woman that wanders decorated with black diadems.
There are various elements: Wires, in the collection that tie and tighten the dress on the body and then fall towards the pavement, the three colors red-white black, shapes, sharp as an empty ambient, a cube with angles. Textures that remind of canvas and some of them polished nearly reflexing, where there is always a lot of light that illuminates everything. A paradise not as we imagine it, but as it really is.
What kind of materials do you prefer to use in your designs?
B: The materials change with every collection. I don’t like to always use the same ones; as the concept that I express changes, so do the materials. There are some exceptions like ceramic or leather or some lining to which I am attached, but I always try to find different declinations.
You live in the small town of Arcola in Italy, have your surroundings influenced your
B: Arcola is a very ancient town made of stone, wood and iron. I love these three materials, but I think that the influence that Arcola has on my design is that the stillness that characterizes it; It allows me to exist, therefore to create.
You use the famous Guidi leather for your shoes and leather garments, why do you
prefer to work particularly with this leather manufacturer?
B: I chose to work with Guidi’s leather because I love the sense of abandon that their leather represents and when I went in their showroom in Pescia, the owner Ruggero Guidi and I understood each other immediately. I talked to him about this leather that had to be abandoned and he knew exactly what I wanted.
You are now designing mainly women’s wear but there is a men’s wear capsule collection coming for f/w 12/13. Could you tell a little bit about this collection?
B: There is a man’s capsule for the next A/W 12/13 called “INFERNO”, an idea that has its origin in an unisex project were the major part of the collection can be worn both by men and women. Various models of the collection will be found in the next A/W 12/13 women’s collection (INFERNO). I decided to dress a man and a woman in the same way, and to allow the passage between the two sexes. I actually don’t really believe in distinction of the collections, I prefer to think that one can dress in both. Obviously there are very few garments that we will find just in the men’s collection, but they have been reworked from previous women’s collection, so they are always garments that could be used today by both sexes.
Will you be doing men’s wear also in the future?
B: I think I will continue the men’s line but I would like to expand it, and to find new “language guides”. It will be a very long and laborious project but I adore what is coming out from it right now.
You collection is now carried in the Stealth showroom in Paris and in selected shops only. You want to keep it that way, why is that?
B: I want to maintain a natural selection of the stores because I think that not all the works can be understood by everyone. I want special places for my collection, every work really needs to be understood. It’s true that we are not selling art works, but I believe that these dresses are surrounded by art, absorbed by art, and therefore they need the same deep respect. Stealth is the right place; I love their concept of a non-showroom – a place in constant becoming where every artistic form becomes possible.
Finally, what are your future plans with Area di Bologna Barbara?
B: Feeling complete one day, and that I would have said all I have to say. I do not like success, I wish that art would overtake places, even if they are difficult to conquer.
Born 6th February 1976
1997-2001 worked as a body art performer in various galleries of Milan.
2000 graduate at “Accademia di Belle Arti” of Brera –Milan- (in) sculpture
– thesis on body art (critical and deep study of the topic).
2001 AREA starts up.
2004 the theatrical company Actor In Progress springs up.
ARTISTICAL : Marina Abramovic, Gina Pane, Rudolf Schwarzkogler,
Günter Brus, Vanessa Beecroft, Pina Bausch, Franko B, Francesca Woodman,
Romeo Castellucci, Orlan, etc...
MUSICAL: Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division,
Diaframma, Nick Cave, Crystal Castles, Talking Heds, M83,
My name is Claude,etc...