“Dreams are desires.” The Disney song is an ode to joy not only for children. Believing in your dreams is also crucial for adults, because dreams are full of hope and hope means “working towards a goal.”
Dream, magic and fairies represent the theme of the professional and human story of the Calabrian designer Gianni Sapone and the inspiration of his creations imbued with charm, sophistication and a dramatic touch.
“If you can dream it, you can do it,” said Walt Disney. He has created an empire with a mouse and I with a meter of fabric.” He presents himself in this way, the Reggian talent, dubbed by the fashion magazines as “the Golden Boy of the new wave of Italian fashion,” immediately revealing his charisma, his determination and a lot of passion.
A visceral passion that grew with him: since he was a child he stayed in the workshop of the family business of intimate wear, to observe how his aunts cut fabrics, basted them, sewed them … “While all my friends were playing soccer, I was sewing” he reveals. His love for fashion is intrinsically tied to family life and especially to his muses who inspired him. Seamstresses by profession, his aunts have followed, encouraged, prodded him, and today, although there are no longer physically alive, their spirits guides him in his work. So much so that he likes to say that “his creations are protected by the fairies.” “When I go out on the catwalk – I confess – it is always them who spread a little bit of magic.”
“Being true ladies, knowing how to work, and having respect for others are the three gifts that gave me my fairies.” Gianni thanks them for teaching him “to smell the scent of the fabric. Even today, if I can not recognize the scent, I do not buy it.” Because a fabric that has no scent, has no identity, it has no depth and therefore has no future. At least in the magic hands of the designer who, although he doesn’t like to be defined this way, because he “still has much to learn,” is an internationally recognized talent (not only as persons of the high nobility, actresses like Serena Autieri, divas of the film and entertainment world, but his creations are beloved by the Arab princesses and his collections have been on the cover of Ego magazine Dubai, a famous magazine of the UAE).
Although Gianni speaks so enthusiastically making everything seem fabulously simple, the road he had to travel has been long and uphill. At eighteen years of age came the first choice that involved parting with his family: going to Rome to attend the l’Accademia di Costume e di Moda (Academy of Costume and Fashion design). Then, help ease the burden on the family. “To pay the bills – he reveals with absolute simplicity – after the Academy and the internship experiences, I was a waiter.” Gianni is full of confidence and hope and his sacrifices are soon rewarded: he was working as an apprentice at the historic tailoring house of Annamode 68, when a magical phone call arrived offering him a post as an assistant costume designer Danilo Donati.
“It was a fundamental experience for my career” – he tells us, reiterating and emphasizing repeatedly that “the important thing is to be open to experiences with humility and a great desire to learn.” Donati revealed a world in which Gianni falls in love with. The passion for the theater, the cinema, fairy tales and dreams guide him in his choice: haute couture. “Simple fashion does not give me the magic of haute couture. The feeling you have heard the unmistakable sound of scissors cutting the fabric, the incredible sensation of stroking the fabrics, feeling and recognizing their different souls! When I worked in ready-to-wear the garments were drawn, then they were machine cut and we finished them. You lose all of the craftsmanship of creation. The beauty of haute couture is to sell a dream. When you get off the runway, you have to be able to convey the magic of fashion and above all to give the dream that high fashion is for everyone! ”
“My fairies – always present – have helped me achieve my dream. Now I want to give it to all women!”
Besides Donati, who do you consider your teacher?
“Surely Fausto Sarli. For me he was a great teacher. I learned so much and above all it was a great lesson in humility. I’m not ashamed to say that the first year in his studio I gathered pins. He would always throw more, but I did not give in, I collected them all. The more he threw, the more I was there ready to pick them up. After a year I started designing his collections along with designer Rocco Palermo. ”
You have received many awards. Among them which are you particularly fond of?
“Surely I really enjoyed the award I received about three years ago in Campidoglio as “Couture designer of the year.” But, I can’t deny that it gave me much pleasure to receive the award in Reggio, during International Fashion Week, by the National Chamber of the Young Fashion Designers as “Excellence in Made in Italy.”
Considering your birthplace, Calabria. What is your advice to young Calabrians who dream of working as a fashion designer?
“Calabria certainly has many young talents that may emerge in the fashion world. Unfortunately, eventually they must leave their territory to better themselves, because there are still no high fashion schools here. My advice is always this: devote yourself humbly to fulfill your dreams. Fashion is a job, it can not be treated as play! It takes commitment, dedication and a lot of sacrifice. Being a fashion designer does not mean making a garment and dressing a model. It means being able to have the skills as well as entrepreneurial skills in order to provide jobs for many families. In fashion we do not throw things together! I still do not consider myself a fashion designer. I still have much to learn. “
If Reggio Calabria decided to invest in the culture of fashion and a fashion academy finally became a reality in our area, would you lend your professional contribution?
“Definitely. I believe that my story could be an excellent example for those who want to work in fashion. It is not an easy industry, one must be determined and of course professional. We need that Reggio believes and decides to create a highly specialized school. The general regional courses do not allow you to have sufficient preparation. Without underrating this emotional sphere: giving your body and soul to this work means getting excited in front of one’s own creation. An empathetic relationship of passion and dedication that develops over much time.”
Sacrifice, passion and magic are the common thread of the story of Gianni Sapone – and how strange is destiny! – that he has the same name as a great stylist from Reggio, Gianni Versace. When we point it out to him, he tells us right away that does not want to be defined as his heir because “There is only one Gianni Versace. I am nothing compared to him,” confessing his immense esteem for the late fashion designer, also a family friend.
We hope – it is our dream, our little fairy tale – that Calabria will soon have many designers and a cutting-edge vocational school!