Michele Chiocciolini and his magic atelier

Michele Chiocciolini and his magic atelier

Fri 13 Jan 2017 9:35 AM

Entering Michele Chiocciolini’s atelier on via del Fico in Santa Croce, Florence, is like walking into an antique shop, a couture boutique and a Fellini film all at once. Themed knick knacks litter every surface: a cluster of palm trees, a pair of riding boots next to stacks of plaid suitcases, toy cars stuck in a traffic jam near a piece of antique china, a small toy version of the Empire State Building next to Chiocciolini’s own repoductions of the New York skyline as handbags, and many more.

Chiocciolini is dressed in a tattered straw fedora, a red Lacoste polo and his defining characteristic, his thick black mustache. Yet, despite these sophisticated elements, there is definitely something youthful about his presence. This is only exaggerated when he begins to speak about his collections as he becomes instantly animated.

Emily Carmosino: I understand that you’re a relatively new fashion designer. When did your line officially launch?
Michele Chiocciolini: We opened on the 12th of September 2012 during the first Vogue Fashion Night Out in Florence. We have participated in this event twice now and for the last one, my sister Francesca and I – I am the designer but she helps me – made a special edition of my first collection. It was a tribute to my first steps into the fashion industry.

EC: What first inspired you to start a collection?
MC: I have always loved to draw and I am inspired by everything around me. The dog clutch for example, which has become synonymous with my brand, started as an image that I always used to draw in my childhood. Now it is displayed on many accessories.

EC: What are some of the most prominent designs in your collections?
MC: Many of my early pieces were clutches that displayed a complete picture when closed but which disappeared when opened. I liked, and still like, to play with contrasting textures like cow skin and suede, in fact all my early bags have this double effect and image feature. There is the iconic dog clutch, the palm tree clutch and the collection based on New York with images of famous buildings. Then there is the clutch with the mountains which reminds me of the landscapes that I saw when I was young. Our Tuscany is full of such beautiful mountains in the Apennines range.

EC: Why did you decide to open an atelier?
MC: I found that an atelier is a perfect place to do research for future collections and to showcase anything that inspires me. It is like living in a mood board.
I like to collect a variety of furniture from different time periods and places and anything that inspires me or that I can use in my designs. Sometimes I even take pieces of deteriorated buildings I pass by! Despite having a cluttered atelier from all these things, I do love simplicity in my designs and I believe that the key to achieving it is to be constantly stimulated and inspired by what is around you.

EC: How do you feel Florence, or Italy in general, influences and inspires you?
MC: Florence will always be a source of inspiration for me. I hope to always remain in this city! Surprisingly, the palm tree that you see here has always been a very personal symbol of Florence for me and I often make bags with that design. In the future, my next collection will feature elements of my family’s history, linked to our roots in the Apennines. Not only mountains though, the Tuscan sea – in summer we move the Florentine atelier to Marciana Marina, Isola d’Elba – will be a great source of inspiration too!

EC: What cities, besides Florence, inspire you?
MC: New York, definitely. My last collection was dedicated to the Big Apple. I drew inspiration from Native Americans and the Statue of Liberty to make a cross body bag. Its natural brownish color is representative of the Native culture, as well as the fringe detail and the tribal design with the Lady Liberty crown. There is also a signature bag shaped as the top of the Empire State Building. It is often showcased in photo shoots or featured in magazines. I admit it isn’t the most practical day-to-day bag but I love it!

EC: Could you tell us what you feel is your design philosophy that will carry you forward?
MC: My designs are very simple ones as I said before. I have a lot of things in my life but when I draw I have a very simple, almost geometric design. In my designs, even if I am surrounded by so much, I love simplicity, but the path to it has to be full of sensations and inspirations. I get inspired by everything and then reinterpret it into straightforward lines that I hope have a unified impact. That’s me!

Michele Chiocciolini seems poised to move up the ranks as a young Italian designer to watch. He’s already been featured in Vogue and is continuing to expand his line into even more whimsical and interesting pieces for the upcoming collections. Watch for out him!


About Fashion in Florence

In May-June 2017 ISI (International Studies Institute of Florence) will offer for the third time an innovative class in Fashion Communication for non-specialized students in design. Emphasis will be on analysis of leading fashion media critics, commentators, bloggers and influencers. During the last edition of the course students had the opportunity to visit Pitti Uomo fashion trade-fair 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 Alessandro Masetti.

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