A positive and coloured space. A space that is free in its own way, or perhaps freed through a lighthearted mind. A mind that, even when full, is capable of pigeonholing
information, images, and inputs. The result is a collection that is as laid back, fascinating, and well-balanced as its author, Andrea Pompilio.
What binds you to Italian culture?
I’m drawn to different cultures because they allow me to incorporate different information into my collections. Take the last one for instance, it’s an utter melting-pot! Truth be told, I’m bound to Italian culture, though if you look at my collections you might think that I’m more fascinated by other aesthetics. Italian culture, made in Italy, the history of Italian costume, fashion, couture, custom-made clothes, good taste; it’s all part of me, especially the 50s, when man’s beauty truly blossomed with those sensational suits and the Italian good life.
Tell me about your attraction towards other cultures.
I’m very respectful of every culture. I’m also curious, and I’m not afraid of what’s different or in contrast
with my habits. On the contrary, it’s precisely in those dimensions that I find many sparks of creativity. Luckily I get to travel a lot, both for work and for pleasure. That means that I’m often in different places trying to absorb as much as possible. I have no issues with food, I’ve been eating with variety since I was a child. I’m always willing to experiment, understand, and basically live like a local. I’m not that kind of tourist that travels some- where only to be cooped up in a fancy hotel, I’d rather stay with the locals and try to immerse myself in their way of living. I need to feel the roots of that culture.
Do you have an image in mind that strikes you from your travels?
Six years ago, I went back to Tokyo to start the col- laboration with Asics. I was shocked. I always thought that the male sensitivity of dressing well was something strictly European, or even just Italian. I wasn’t aware of the almost excessively fanatical Japanese pursuit of perfection, of detail. I suddenly realised that there are so many cultures that have managed to develop and thrive in a very personal way. I always say that I would like to see people’s character and personality show through their way of dressing; that’s exactly what it felt like in Japan, especially with men.
How do you go about observing?
I live and breathe images, but I like to be extremely quick when observing. I walk around, I look, but I’m
not the kind of observer that stares at a painting for ages. I register a lot of information in a very short time. The same happens when I travel. When people ask me
if something in particular inspires me the answer is definitely yes, but that’s never a character, a story, or a moment: it’s the final process that inspires me. I absorb as much as I can until I have enough of a mental melt- ing-pot to create collections based on different inputs, even contrasting ones.
Does this rapid scanning process apply to people too?
It depends. I have to be honest, doing what I do makes it harder for me to be fascinated by beautiful people. I find myself to be most attracted to what’s imperfect, to what goes beyond canonical beauty, because I grew up surrounded by it. For instance, American women wear- ing miniskirts of dubious taste paired with white boots catch my eye more than a British or Roman gentleman. It must have something to do with contrast. No one in this business would dare to do as much, not even at Carnival. But that’s when attraction comes into play, when I notice some sort of surreal assembly, a chaos of contrasts in some way.
Since you are so schematic, does you creative process involve any ritual or specific needs?
Actually no, it doesn’t. My creative process happens in a confused way. I start drawing wherever, especially during quiet moments; it can happen while watching a movie in the evening, while traveling on a flight or a train, during breaks. They are eureka moments. I need to put these in- tuitions right down on paper before they get the chance to fly away. My crazy creative process always happens at the most inconvenient times. The methodical part comes later on with my team when we develop these ideas, we listen to each other’s opinion, and so on.
How much does listening matter to you?
Going to a museum, attending a fashion show, listen- ing to a concert, watching a movie, for me it’s all on the same level because we are talking about something emotional. I’m a good listener, it is fundamental. I listen to things that I don’t even like hearing, or that make me laugh uncontrollably. I’m talking about certain people’s words too. Listening matters because it allows you to re- alise that there are completely different realities coexist- ing in this world.
In 2017, is street style still a part of these op- posites realities?
I think it’s a rather outdated concept. In the last few years street style has been a huge inspiration. What matters the most to me is understanding the historical moment we’re living in. I’m concerned with taking my freedom forward: the freedom of wearing whatever one feels like. I often talk about freedom as being entitled to rebel against traditional values. In Italy there’s always been a rigour attached to dressing, something that has affected me too, but that I’ve been trying to overthrow for years. Whatever you’re wearing, you need to feel good in it, regardless of the brand. This freedom is of- ten circumscribed when labeled with the abused con- cept of streetwear. I don’t do streetwear, I’m just trying to come up with an idea of utter relaxation.
Speaking of freedom, is there any connection between the ‘Dreamer’ from the FW 2016/17 and ‘The truth will set you free’ from the SS 2017?
Sometimes there are hidden meanings behind the collections, other times not. The ‘Dreamer’ was a kind of revolution for me. At that time I decided that I was done with fashion parades. That word meant dream in the same way I used to do twenty years ago, when my biggest wish was to work in fashion. Fashion was made for dreaming, sometimes the dream was unattainable, reachable for a niche of people only. This enchanted dream is fading today. Everything is frenetic, everything is within the reach of anyone, regardless of whether or not you’re in the business. I’m not saying that it’s completely wrong, but I wish that we could go back to the origins a little more, I wish that we could actually choose the people surrounding us, for example, during the shows. I was displeased, so I started my revolution. I went back to opening spaces filled with energy, where I can create, live, and offer a better understanding of my work, casting aside a series of individuals that I’m relatively interested in. So the ‘Dreamer’ was almost an invitation to go back to dreaming. ‘The truth will set you free’ is an invitation to live with more irony. What re- ally matters to me is being real and honest, with myself and with the people I work with; since then I’ve been appreciated more. It might be just a coincidence, or it might be just the fact that I have more time to dedicate to the people that come to see me. I don’t know why, but I finally achieved the kind of relationship that I was longing for.
How important is it to be lighthearted when looking at yourself?
I believe that I have a strong sense of humor. I love be- ing carefree, and I highlight the fact that fashion is my passion, but that I’m in no way changing the fate of the world. I’d like to see everyone in fashion do the same, without the malice of those grim characters through which this world has always been depicted. I’m an open book, I need to be surrounded by people who are ener- getically like me. There has to be respect. I don’t want to shut myself away out of fear for the people around me.
What would you write on the back of your business card?
Take it easy!