From Calabria to Milan, to the most important catwalks of international high fashion. David Parisi, a designer who collaborates with important brands of fashion and design, and Alessia Crea, the designer who won the Next Generation competition launched by Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (Italy’s national fashion association) are the two stylists from Palmi who started the Casamadre brand. With their lifestyle, they are heralds of the Calabrian values in the world. Their philosophy is a mix of creativeness, sense of belonging, research and innovation aimed at creating an ever-changing plot in which identity and culture are interwoven.
After winning the 2014 edition of “Who is on next? – Man section” with the shoes they created, they took part in the last edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo with their ready-to-wear collection. We talked to them on the phone, while they were in Paris for the Fashion Week, and asked them about their experience.
Let’s talk about the name you gave your brand first. Does it represent who you are?
“Casa” (Italian for home) and “madre” (Italian for mother) are two words that convey a strong sense of belonging and represent our principles. We live mostly abroad, but we often go back to Calabria. Family is important to us, to such an extent that our motto today is “we are family”. We mean an open family though. We have been trying to conflate a range of strongly characterized identities into this concept. For example, we dedicated our first collection to circus people, particularly to the Orfei family. Although no real family tie exist between the members of this circus company, they are in a way a “family of artists” who share everything and put an incredible amount of passion and hard work into their one-hour shows. For this reason, the first pair of shoes we created was inspired by a clown figure and the inauguration of our first collection was a “parade before a dream”, in a setting reminiscent of Fellini’s films whose surreal atmosphere was created by means of a black backdrop with blue and dark green tinges. Vogue liked our kermis so much that we were selected to participate in Pitti uomo 2015 as a result.
Did you keep on exploring the family mood at the Pitti Uomo 2015 event?
Yes. Our second collection was inspired by the sea gypsies, particularly the French Manouches, and by their sense of union and friendship. We tried to give the audience the feeling of a passage from the sea to the land by setting up a sort of landing stage leading to the catwalk, metaphorically a safe haven.
Do you think you will dedicate a fashion show to Calabria?
Calabria is part of who we are, it is always with us: the landscapes of our coasts, our seas, the Saracen quotations. We like to reveal ourselves through other characters, and they all have some Calabria in them because they are inspired by values such as family and friendship… the typical values of our region. The story we tell is made of emotions, ingenuity, research and culture. It is a true lifestyle, as it goes well beyond the idea of fashion as merely “the production of clothing” to become a proper social phenomenon. We also collaborate with moviemakers and musicians, so our family keeps on expanding and expanding.
Nella capitale della moda italiana il vostro lifestyle è già riconosciuto ed è presente nei concept store di tendenza. A quando uno store in Calabria?
Your lifestyle is already well-known in the Italian capital of fashion, and it is present in the most fashionable concept stores. When will you open one in Calabria?
I have just been called to open store in the province of Reggio. We’d like to clarify something though: we don’t fancy spreading products, but rather a philosophy. The Casamadre man is an authentic, experienced person, who carries the wisdom of his experience along; the Casamadre woman is conceptual and modern, tailoring expertise and elegance go hand in hand in her style, and she doesn’t care for excesses. We carry a lifestyle with us: if someone buys Casamadre clothes, they want to be part of our family, of our team, because you either are or aren’t Casamadre.
What is your idea of fashion?
All should be handmade: the tailoring, the fabrics. We are lucky to work with big and important firms in the world of fashion. Our clothes are manufactured in the same house that produces Celine, our shoes are made in the same workroom that works for Prada. Another important step in our career was knowing Cerruti, one of the few wool mills left in Italy to promote the by-hand working method, together with Zegna and Loro Piana. We entrusted our first ready-to-wear collection to the mastery of Nino Cerruti, who provided us with the fabrics and gave us valuable suggestions on how to work with wool, silk and cotton.
We very much rely on timeless quality unpretentious elegance. Many people would have expected us to develop a casual style because we were well versed in accessories manufacturing. In fact, we decided our collections would be a means to convey our idea of elegance: nobody would look elegant in a bomber jacket! Luckily, we were able to achieve this purpose and make ourselves understood, in Italy and abroad too.
What plans do you have for the future?
We are working on our new collection, but we can’t say anything about it yet.
We have left the Casamadre duo at the Fashion week in Paris, but they already have another journey in mind. Soon, they will be travelling to the Asian continent to seek inspiration there, because “travelling means exploring, and research is knowledge”. We wish these talented stylists the best of luck, as they always keep Calabria in their hearts and let it show in their collections.