February is now considered one of the key months of the year in terms of fashion, a time when new collections are introduced during fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris. I am currently working with a brand named Stella Queen for the promotion of the upcoming FW 2023/24 collection.
Stella Queen is a made-in Italy brand, whose creations are realized through the wisdom of the Italian artisanal supply chain.
Production takes place entirely on the Italian territory – mainly in Rome – involving the manufacturing excellence of other Italian regions like Tuscany and Puglia, supporting the local economy. The materials used in production are natural, recyclable and environmentally friendly, respecting the standards of environmental sustainability.
The Fall/Winter 2023 collection fully reflects the Stella Queen business philosophy, taking care of the woman’s look in all its aspects, with outfits dedicated to different moments of the day and evening. The collection consists of 123 garments divided into three lines, autonomous and consistent in style, with customized themes and prints that make the Stella Queen look identifiable, a brand that aims to enhance women and dress them in every context.
In December I had the opportunity to visit a retrospective titled “Richard Avedon: Relationships” at the Palazzo Reale in Milan. It was an amazing experience for me because I love photography and fashion very much, so it was a great opportunity to explore the many aspects of this legendary photographer’s work.
Avedon’s images are divided into several rooms and the portraits are grouped by theme; each gallery reveals a group of related images that provide visual pleasure and appreciation for his immense body of work.
The photographer famously said: “My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph.” In the course of his career, he created a series of iconic images in fashion and portraiture. Between 1989 and 2004, Avedon placed a magnificent group of photographs at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, meant to represent five decades of his work.
The “Richard Avedon: Relationships” exhibition includes a selection of fashion photographs and portraits that allow the audience to explore his approach to photographing people. It explores two ideas: the first is how multiple photographs of the same subject reveal aspects of Avedon’s process, his relationship with the people he photographed and certain sides of their personality as well. The second is that fashion images and portraits shift when he includes multiple people because in this case Avedon’s goal was to convey relationships among the subjects. Palazzo Reale had already hosted an exhibition dedicated to Avedon titled “Evidence 1944-1994” that chronicled 50 years of the artist’s work.
This new retrospective offers a chance to see the illustrious career of one of the best American photographers of the 20th century, focusing on his relationships with the people he has photographed over the decades.
Domenico Piraina, director of Palazzo Reale, stated: “Avedon was an innovator in many aspects. He eliminated everything that was superfluous from the scene, to underscore the sole presence of the person being portrayed. […] Models were no longer statues dressed in beautiful clothes, they were real people. Characterful people, in many cases. […] The precociousness of his huge talent made him a famous and much sought-after photographer. Indeed, he was the inspiration for the character of Dick Avery in the famous 1957 film Funny Face, featuring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. […] One cannot imagine the history of photography without Richard Avedon.”
“Creativity, compassion and consumption have to learn to go hand in hand.”
I first heard about social entrepreneur Safia Minney and her label People Tree in 2013, when she created a fashion collection in collaboration with actress and activist Emma Watson. At the time I had just started working in Milan’s fashion industry and articles about sustainability had begun appearing in the imported fashion magazines I would purchase at the newsstand.
I had been out of high school for less than a year and was starting to take my first steps in fashion, so I was interested in the topic of fair trade but had not considered it in relation to my consumer habits. Anyway, when the Emma Watson x People Tree came out I bought a white and blue scarf from the collection and along with it came the brand catalogue; I was surprised at how great the clothes look, since when fair trade collections first appeared in the fashion industry most of the garments didn’t look fashionable and were quite plain. This collection by People Tree looked very preppy and vibrant, so that’s what led me to purchase the “Naked Fashion” book. Well, as the years went by, I moved house three or four times and the book always followed, but I didn’t get to read it until about a month ago. I have just finished a Fashion Business specialization course with New York’s Parsons School of Design and most of the course focused on the theme of sustainability and the need for an ethical supply chain, so when I spotted “Naked Fashion” in the fashion corner of my personal library I immediately picked up the book and read it. About time!
Although there are some points in the book where you definitely notice it was written more than ten years ago (the topic of social media is barely mentioned and the book is now out of print, but used copies are still available online), I think most of the themes it deals with are now more relevant than ever. We are living in a post-pandemic era, and climate change issues have gotten worse in the last decade; the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry, social media and influencer sponsorships have led to an era of excessive consumerism, especially fast fashion brands, while most of the clothes end up in landfills and pollute the oceans and the air we breathe. However, we must recognize that there have been significant changes, partly determined by the new generations who are interested in environmental issues; many surveys show that Millennials and Generation Z prefer to buy garments that last longer and are of better quality, also showing a particular interest in second-hand fashion.
In October 2021 I attended the first major solo exhibition in Milan dedicated to the renowned artist and photographer Mario Testino. The exhibition was structured into two parts; I was able to attend only the first one because I was very busy with work by the time the second one was available for the public to see (it enclosed a body of intimate snapshots and authentic moments from the photographer’s life with some people that have positively influenced his career).
The gallery presented some of Mario Testino’s most significant works in large format, including a body of unpublished works, available in new formats and editions, for a total of fifty works carefully selected by the gallery directors and Testino himself.
I found this exhibition very interesting and insightful because it showcased a variety of iconic and previously unseen shots of the photographer’s muses, like Sienna Miller and Cara Delevingne. Mario Testino is one of the most famous and talented fashion photographers in the world. Peruvian-born, he started his career in London in the 1970s, when he began to collaborate with magazines like Vogue, Glamour, GQ and Vanity Fair. Over the years, he has worked with known and talented fashion designers like Versace, Gucci, Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana. When I was a teenager, I really loved the campaigns he did with Burberry at the time, especially the campaign shoot with Emma Watson for Burberry Fall/Winter 2009/10. I also own his book “Diana: Princess of Wales”, which he published with Taschen in 2006, following the eponymous exhibition at Kensington Palace in 2005 (my grandma loved Princess Diana and the book was one of her favorite).
Mario Testino has also taken numerous portraits of international stars like Naomi Campbell, Julia Roberts, Madonna and Gisele Bündchen. Some of these portraits were included in the “Mario Testino: Unfiltered” exhibition in Milan, with other unreleased shots.
There was also a section dedicated to the photographer’s love for Italy, with a selection of works from the recent “Ciao” publishing project in collaboration with Taschen. Around the time of the exhibition, Mario Testino said: “Discovering Italy was a powerful experience that captured my imagination. I felt a deep connection with everything I saw around me. I loved the people, the landscape, the architecture and the fact that art and beauty were naturally, simply part of life.”
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