Angelo Flaccavento is an independent, Italy-based fashion writer, who contributes to a roster of Italian and international publications. He is currently the fashion features editor at The End magazine, and a contributing editor to Uomo Vogue, Il Sole 24 Ore, GQ Style Italia and Luxury24.it. He also regularly writes for Fantastic Man and Vogue Italia, and is the fashion co-curator at Fondazione Claudio Buziol in Venice. He has worked at Rodeo as a fashion features editor, and as an Italian correspondent for the seminal Dutch magazine. An accomplished illustrator, Flaccavento has also published his pen and ink drawings in Tank, Sport&Street and Metal, and printed them on limited-edition t-shirts.
" His signature uniform consists of a pair of thick-framed specs, a neatly-trimmed beard, a shrunken tailored blazer, and a bow tie to top it off. The man certainly owns the look, which he describes as 'paradoxically classic.'"
What’s hot right now?
Twisted simplicity. Subtraction. Doing more with less. It’s easier to say than it is to practice, but challenges are always hot, no?
What is the essence of style?
I’m afraid style is impossible to define in a single way, or even to define for good. It depends so much on each individual’s personality. From my experience and point of view, I’d say its essence is a mix of rigor, obsessive dedication, disregard for rules and a healthy appreciation for the ridiculous aspects of life. Taking yourself not too seriously is mandatory, because, after all, it’s just clothes.
What’s your favorite online destination?
Apart from the news and vintage porn? Mhhh, so hard to say. I’m not loyal to any blog, apart from Cathy Horyn. I follow good old Sartorialist, Jak and Jil and something else, but I do rarely pay attention to what they write. There’s too much pointless, ego-driven blah blah going on in cyberspace. That’s why I find a Tumblr like Not Myshoot so fantastically inspiring: the quality of the images is outstanding, and there’s no words. Otherwise, I just Google whatever I am interested in at the moment, and go. I do rarely shop online—for me buying clothes is a physical experience, and I always like the interaction with the shop owner or shop assistant.
What’s your favorite store?
I buy everywhere, but tend to gravitare towards the very old-looking shops, like Campo here in Ragusa where I live. Vertice in Turin has a strong selection of tailoring and ties, and the owner, Roberto Trapani, has such a deep knowledge for fashion and good taste. He courts my fearless fashion side so well, I end up spending fortunes. I love Charvet in Paris for the bowties and the robes the chambre, and Jil Sander in Milan for the faultless suits.
What’s your favorite fashion item ever?
It changes with the times, which means I don’t really have a favorite fashion item. But, summer or winter, you’ll rarely see me around without a tailored jacket and a shirt, preferably with bowtie or necktie. I was, quite literally, born with a jacket!
What were your favorite fall 2010 menswear shows?
Raf Simons, because it was graphic and bold. Dries Van Noten, for the experimental romanticism. Rick Owens for its pure, monastic strength and the genderless vibe. Damir Doma, because it was dreamy and serene. And, may I confess, Giorgio Amani, for the capes and the velvet.
Who are your favorite new menswear designers?
Damir Doma, Patrick Ervell, Antonio Azzuolo, Kolor.
Do you enjoy the writing? Is that something that you love doing?
I do. Sometimes, it gets a bit frustrating when you’re on your own. Being freelance means that most of your work relationships take place via email or phone.
Yes, I know the story... It all sounds quite familiar (laughter).
I live in Ragusa and my friends are based here, which means there is a clear divide between fashion and my private life. In fact, it’s a bit like having two separate lives as I would not even consider going around wearing a bow tie here. Just wearing my Ray-Ban glasses is already too much, I don’t know why, but people stop in the street.
Really? Is is that bad? Yes, it is. Once I went to a party wearing a formal jacket and bow tie and people laughed when they saw me. I was laughing, too, but in the end it was too much. I’m quite shy, you see.
Did that make you feel like a clown?
Yes, a little bit (laughter). But then I prefer to draw the clown than be one.
How long have you been writing for?
I think I started in 2001. I’ve always been interested in fashion. I was drawing a lot around the age of 4 or 5 and, at some point, when I turned 8 or 10, I started looking at clothes more closely. My aunt had a boutique here in Ragusa and it stocked major designers, such as Mugler, Valentino and Montana. The late 1970s and early 1980s were a big moment for Italian fashion and at the age of 12 I started seeing some shows and became fascinated with that world. I studied Art History at the University of Pisa in Tuscany and eventually focused on the history of fashion. I also wrote my dissertation on Roberto Capucci to underline the sculptural aspect of his work. I was still drawing at that time and realised I preferred that to actual clothes design. I thought that maybe I would never be a good designer. The two-dimensional aspect appealed to me more than the technique needed to make clothes.
Were you good at languages, too?
Yes, I enjoyed them. I read a lot and liked writing about actual things I loved, not fiction. Writing is good for me because it’s about challenging your mind and working within certain boundaries. You have to try and squeeze everything in and it’s a good exercise for me.
I agree. Writing is a bit like a special discipline and, in fact, I have to say I enjoy the loneliness of it.
Yes, I guess I could never write in an office for instance. I need to have silence and cannot be surrounded with people. I wake up at 6 in the morning to start, it’s the best time for me.
It’s funny in a way, because the writing process feels a bit dematerialised when you work with people you don’t meet.
It works for me, because I like to daydream. Sometimes you meet people and there’s always a gap between your imagination and reality. They are always different from what you had in mind. A lot of Italians think I’m way older than I am. I think it comes from my writing style, which can seem a bit old-fashioned. I like using words that have been forgotten or are barely used. Fashion to me is both serious and frivolous and I don’t actually consider myself a proper writer, but I want my style to be refined when it comes to clothes. It takes a long time for me to get the words right.
That’s part of the fun, isn’t it?
Yes, it is. With writing, I want to communicate, but train and improve myself at the same time. I like to be precise, both in my work and daily schedule. If I don’t start writing early in the morning, usually the day is fucked-up, because I’m really productive between 6am and 11. After that, the phone calls start and you cannot focus.
I did that when I wrote up my thesis, I tried to stick to 500 words a day and in the end it paid off.
That’s a lot. I’m writing for a daily newspaper at the moment and it’s interesting because it’s a completely different style from writing for a monthly or bimonthly title. It has to be simpler and more direct in a way. You have to be fast and concise as the deadlines are really tight, but in a way you learn to get rid of all the extra, superfluous stuff.
Let’s go back to your first experiences of fashion and the time you mentioned earlier, which was quite significant. Which designers appealed to you the most?
Well, my aunt got all these magazines sent through to her boutique and I spent a lot of time there. Her shop was quite mainstream and I used to like Ferré, until one day I discovered the Japanese in a magazine, Yohji and Comme des Garçons. I was mad about it. I remember I was 13 and in Milan with my mother. There was a Comme des Garçons shop at that time and I was screaming like mad because I wanted a Comme des Garçons jacket, but she didn’t buy it for me and told me I was too little. It was blue with really big, black buttons in the front. All the buttons had different sizes and the shop owner was so moved that someone so young loved it that he offered us a special discount, but my mum was not having any of it (mutual laughter).
I guess the owner sensed that you were part of the next generation of clients. Who else did you love?
In 1988, I remember seeing pictures of the first Margiela show and going totally crazy. I went to his showroom with my aunt and she was screaming because she did not get him at all. He was fairly uncompromising at that time. I loved Helmut Lang, too and still love the label, even though he has gone. He was one of the strongest designers in the last twenty years. I still love Comme des Garçons, because there’s method in madness with everything she does. She’s a true original.
And how did you feel about Mugler, Montana and Gaultier?
I was fascinated and watched the VHS tapes of their shows, which were really amazing. They were really, like, superhuman (mutual laughter). My aunt was a seamstress, too and often had to make alterations, as the clothes did not always fit Sicilian body types. I have to say that they were very well-made. Some pieces were really something. The Mugler and Montana women were so strong, with their huge shoulders that made them look as if they had just stepped out of some comics. The highlight for me was going to the Versace shows in Milan, I remember he always had the best makeup, hair and models. It was incredible for me. You can imagine how I felt, a teenage boy coming from the countryside, watching these models who were huge stars. It was so theatrical it felt like being in a dream.
That theatrical aspect is present in your clowns drawings, too. Can you tell me a bit more about them?
Well, I don’t want to sound like I’m too much of a believer in astrology, but I’m a true Gemini and there are definitely two sides to my taste. On the one hand, I like things that are strict, minimal, linear and very pure. On the other, I love people like Lacroix and over the top statements. I like Baroque paintings and medieval sculptures. In the Sex clowns drawings, I’ve put my love of African masks and some recurring elements, such as bow ties, makeup, conical hats and frilly collars. Some of the makeup reminds me of A clockwork orange, which is one of my favourite films. Still, I don’t think about these things when I draw, it’s always very instinctive.
Is it like a subconscious thing?
Yes, it is. Things come out in a non-intentional way and I only understand it afterwards. I’m the one who draws, but the critical observer, too.
I like this idea of masks you mentioned before. When I first saw the drawings, they made me think of Luigi Pirandello and the Commedia dell’Arte.
Yes, exactly. I think there is a saying in Japanese Kabuki that a man who wears a mask always tells the truth. I can relate to that. It’s easier telling the truth when you have a persona.
Is this something that also applies to the fashion world? Are we all clowns?
I don’t know, I mean, there are some clowns in fashion, but when I draw the clowns, it’s absolutely non-fashion to me. Then I guess that, from an outsider’s point of view, the fashion world does look like a circus. I sometimes get that feeling attending shows in Milan or Paris seeing people completely dressed-up in 40 degrees heat. Maybe this is what the fashion world looks like to most people.source