Famed Florentine fashion designer Roberto Capucci has recently moved his collection to the Villa Bardini on Costa San Giorgio. The current exhibition, an assortment of the rarest and the most spectacular creations of the artist, is guaranteed to delight the senses and stimulate thought. Capucci combines colours, materials, shapes, textures, and ideas in what he calls ‘sculpture dresses.’ He granted The Florentine the following interview, where he muses on his creations and, ultimately, his legacy in the fashion world.
Do you consider yourself an artist or a fashion designer?
People and critics have often seen me more as an artist than as a fashion designer. I think this is due to the fact that I tend to create my dresses from a different perspective—more an expression of what I feel rather than what the trend of the moment requires. I come from an artistic background and have always seen dresses as a way to express myself rather than create fashion. This has always put me ‘outside the box’, and that’s how I would like to be remembered.
Many of the dresses seem ‘unwearable’; do you think they tend to be viewed as sculptures rather than as dresses?
My dresses are wearable and have been worn. They are certainly not for everyday life, but for special occasionsand what is a special occasion is up to the person to decide. My recent work is different. For instance, for the group of 12 sculptures that I created and produced for the Venice Biennale in 1996, I left myself go into abstraction and left behind all problems of wearability. So yes, some of my creations are pure sculptures that look like dresses, but with a few corrections they can be made wearable.
What does a dress cost and how do you find your clients? What is the ‘process’ of ordering, creating and buying a dress?
My clients choose me. My creations are so peculiar that the customers need to be profoundly convinced they are ready to wear them to come to me. Otherwise it is the dress that wears them, and that is not the spirit. It is like taming a wild horse: once you manage it, it’s the most exciting sensation. The cost is strictly connected to the difficulty and the time needed to manufacture the dress, which is chosen and studied with the client herself.
How did you become a fashion designer?
I come from classical artistic background. In 1951, there were no fashion or design schools in Italy. All those who worked on this field were either craftsmen or people who had particular good taste and passion for fashion. I was in that as an outsider, an artist who decided to express himself with fabric instead of marble or canvas.
What have you not done yet that you’d like to accomplish in your work?
After 56 years in the business, able to do what I wanted and express myself with total freedom; after having shown my creations in the best museums of the world; after having opened my own museum in Florence, there isn’t much more I could wish for myself. What I would like to do now is to pass some of my experience on to the younger people who share my feelings, and I hope to achieve this through my newly created foundation.
Visit Roberto Capucci’s Returning to Origins Exhibition until February 27, 2008 at his Foundation Museum located at the Villa Bardini, via Costa San Giorgio, 2, Florence.