photo credit: Giuseppe Circhetta
The Florentine is publishing this series of interviews on the occasion of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out on September 17, 2015.
Dedicated, whimsical and creative, Alessia Caliendo’s love for fashion is apparent in her work. A freelance fashion stylist, editor and consultant based in Milan, Caliendo has worked for top fashion magazines Cosmopolitan and L’Officiel, as well as collaborating with the likes of Samsung and Bugatti. After a Master’s degree in Fashion at the IED in Rome and some courses at Central Saint Martin—the leading fashion school in London—in fashion journalism and fashion styling, she finally obtained the knowledge and confidence to pursue her career. Currently, Caliendo offers full services for fashion styling and fashion consulting for editorials, advertisements, and fashion shows, and in addition, she recently began sharing her knowledge and experience through a teaching position at the IED design academy in Rome.
Caliendo discusses her career, goals and fashion connections with Florence in our recent conversation.
-So Alessia, what’s your relationship with Florence?
-Since I started my career in 2007, I come to Florence twice a year for Pitti Uomo, which for me represents one of the most important fashion fairs in the world. Year by year I get in touch with lots of interesting developments and people to work with. I always get a lot of contacts and here you can really understand the fashion trends for the next season, especially concerning the materials, colours and moods that I can use in my styling job.
-What do you think about Florence becoming the fifth fashion capital of the world?
-Italian fashion started from Florence in the early ‘50s with the amazing fashion shows hosted in the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti, where a lot of brands showed their collections to international presses and buyers. This was the past, but nowadays Florence still has the same importance in the menswear fashion industry. It is internationally recognized as a particular type of fashion week; it comes just after the London Men’s Fashion Week and before the Milano similar event. Everything started from here, so why not also consider Florence as a fashion capital in the future? Because that’s what it’s becoming.
-Where did your love for fashion come from?
-It comes from many, many, many years ago [Caliendo laughs], because my grandmother was a tailor, and I remember watching her sewing clothes and dresses since I was three years old. Then year by year, thanks to my parents, I improved my knowledge about art, architecture, design, and photography. And now—being a stylist, editor and consultant—fashion is my world.
-If you could explain your work to the world, how would you describe it?
-When I style an advertorial campaign of a brand or an editorial for magazines, I’m deeply influenced by art and architecture, but I also have to feel something special about that styling. I prefer clean, minimalist lines and atmosphere, but with a lot of cultural references which make my style eclectic. My work—it’s like a universe made of art, passion, design, architecture, and sometimes it also reflects my own personal feelings. When I’m having a bad time you can see it in my work and through my mood boards, which become more melancholic, maybe using cold colors or dramatic scenes. But you can also see when I’m happy, especially when I make colorful and fun editorials. Styling is emotional work.
-Could you describe a typical work day?
-My typical work day is very hard. I have days on the set with models and photographers, and also days spent in doing research for making a good campaign or editorial. When I’m not on the set I do a lot of image and text research using visual platforms and social networks like Pinterest, Google and Instagram, because on the net you can find the latest trends or latest ideas coming from all over the world. Nowadays, social networks and visual applications are very important for a creative job like mine.
Then I have a lot of meetings with clients, designers and press offices to choose the wardrobes that I will use on set. So appointments, meetings, mailings and messages until late at night. When I’m on set I work with the photographer and the makeup artist, and we shoot the models according to what I’ve decided. Then I travel a lot, almost every week, one day Milan, one day Florence, one day Rome because I’m teaching too. You have to work very, very hard and for the most part renounce your private life. But if you’re strong enough, you can reach your goals and dreams.
-What do you hope the future has in store for you and your career?
-I should say that I’d like to become the editor in chief of an important fashion magazine like Anna Wintour at Vogue America—the iron woman that inspired the protagonist of The Devil Wears Prada—but actually it wouldn’t work so well for me anyway! I really like just the writing, that counts the most for me, and I would like to write about fashion, maybe collaborating as fashion editor for just an authoritative magazine in the field. While I’m still only 30, working as a freelance writer is fun and also challenging, but I’m not sure that would still suit me when I’m older.
About Fashion in Florence
In May-June 2015 ISI (International Studies Institute of Florence) offered an innovative class in Fashion Communication for non-specialized students in design. Emphasis was on analysis of leading fashion media critics, commentators, bloggers and influencers. Students had the opportunity to visit one day of Pitti Uomo #88 at the Fortezza da Basso and write their reports and blogs including one-on-one interviews with leading young figures in Fashion in Florence. Professor Emeritus Mark Bernheim headed the team, which included fashion commentator and assistant Alessandro Masetti, and his colleagues. The Institute plans to offer this course again in 2016.