'Art Thou', A book by Polimoda, photography Takuya Nishibori, photography Mattia De Nardis.
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Art Thou, Polimoda – best works selected by the curator Massimiliano Giornetti

Emotional awakening is the emblem of this collection and considers the new professionals as drivers in this respect through their visions

The emotional awakening of the fashion system

Massimiliano Giornetti, director of Polimoda, confirms the need to renew the presence of independent voices, thoughts and reflections outside the current chorus that are beginning to prove stale. For the first time in thirty-five years, the work of graduate students in the courses of fashion design, fashion styling and art direction, are showcased inside of a publication following Giornetti’s newly curated project. Entitled Art Thou, it encourages to find the way to express oneself through one’s own creativity, without the need to chase after pre-established models and stereotypes: «We are all different from each other and, in a world that is becoming more and more globalized and homologated, we need free thoughts». Self-expression represents the highest form of freedom of thought, Giornetti continues. Young talents should find themselves included within a dialogue with their peers, the new fashion users who belong to Generation Z. Topics of interest have been changing and codes must reinvent themselves by adapting to the values which are most important to the new generation such as sustainability, inclusiveness, and diversity. The book focuses on young people who have just graduated, proposing to bring back that desire to be heard and to emerge, to awaken the creative souls and to help them make their talents known. The theme of the project is based on emotional awakening, a topic which is becoming relevant today. Giornetti affirms: «A rebirth has to occur. Fashion is detaching itself too much from the body, moving away from people, pursuing a form of digitalization that will land in the virtual world. We must not forget the emotional aspect linked to fashion, the capacity it generates to affirm a precise and unique identity». This essence returns to the anthropological and social function that fashion performs on a daily basis, the re-establishment of contact with clothes and their connotation, eliciting the body to communicate a precise physical message on each occasion.

Art Thou, the collection

As curator, Giornetti explains that the meaning of  Art Thou intends to illustrate how the era of social affirmation «sounds like a mantra, a religious maxim. Just as at the entrance of the ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi, where you could read an inscription ‘know thyself ‘, inviting to reflection». The volume is divided into ten chapters, devised as ten containers which are linked to different themes reflecting current times, expressed through clothing and photographs. The topics covered are fluidity, digitization, the body, politics, nature and space. The editor defines it as a modern-day diary: open and free. A narrative dialogue made of images that is grafted into today’s society and culture. Within each chapter are the images, poetic snippets, drawings, photographs, prints, fashion creations, and moodboards that illustrate new visions for the industry. What transpires from the clothes designed and the artistic direction are products that are often voluminous, unfinished, and temporary. In a statement, Polimoda said: «The creations hide the shapes of the body and make the gender of the wearer unidentifiable. The oversized and padded shoulders of certain dresses seem to want to take back their own space in the world, a woven leather bodice is transformed into a protective element, fabrics manipulated with skill, overlap, are layered, becoming an extension of the body or the object of upcycling». Other projects propose bodies which are not constricted, but liberated, expressing it through nudity, narrating it by means of intimate verses and thoughts capable of capturing the concerns of Gen Z. The presence of the surrounding environment became a territory to be explored, as a protagonist were illustrations and prints, perhaps only hinted at in applications of butterflies or flowers on tailored garments.

From the left: Digital Illustration By Diana Khuziakhmetova, Artwork By Berna Süslü, Styling and Art Direction by Jonathan Burdin, Photography by Chiara Alessandri, Mua Sofia Stagnitti, Mask Francesco Casarotto, From The Book Art Thou

Reflection on self-expression

«This is how Art Thou was born, as an invitation not to follow others, but to be followers of ourselves», affirms Giornetti. The work was created to generate an inner reflection starting from introspective projects, able to investigate the individual and to dwell on the search for the essence of each person and personality. The pieces and concepts chosen encourage freedom of expression, without placing any restrictive measures or censorship, a concept which Polimoda hopes to circulate during educational courses. «Art Thou is the choice of the self to self-determine declaring its independence and autonomy of judgment. The very personal freedom of expression», explains the curator. ‘Thou’ is an archaic pronoun that was used in Old English to indicate a single person or a collective, justifying its role in the title. It further emphasizes the will of the collection to carry on the work of a specific identity. With regard to the expression of identity and the anthropological conception that fashion takes on, the volume reflects the representations of the face and the human body. Giornetti explains the consideration was generated by fashion’s lack of inclusivity. It often considers a single culture without looking at the habits and values of others. In many cultures, bodies or faces are covered; the head is decorated, the face is colored. «In some shoots, the faces of the models remain hidden, to focus the attention on the dress. Sometimes it is covered by a box, by colored plastic, by a curled cap, or by a fabric mask that reproduces the features: how not to think of the masks that we have learned to use in recent months? By contrast, elsewhere, in photos and drawings, the face is exhibited, made up, exaggerated, expressive, digitally modified», states the Polimoda website.

Lampoon reporting: new generation of creatives

This innovative vision represents the new generation, the rising talents in the field of fashion design, styling, and art direction. The desire for rebirth and the emotional awakening is typical of those defined as ‘blooming flowers’ by Sara Sozzani Maino in the preface to Art Thou. Young people are responsible for the new idea of artistic expression. They are able to create while still respecting the new needs of targets which continuously change throughout the years. Underlining the non-commercial purpose of the collection, Giornetti claims «the promotion of talents aims to stimulate the reader through images, visual stories, slogans that lead to reflect on those themes that today closely touch the world of young people. It’s a tribute to a free creativity that doesn’t bend to the rules imposed by mass numbers but searches for the niche». The selection of works by the curator is linked to the value of independence, which the school has been a symbol for thirty-five years. «We are by definition black sheep. We are always looking for different, unexpected, unprecedented solutions. This is also the meaning of fashion. From the Latin MODUS, a different way. Always finding different fashions and ways». The relevance of this publication is further reinforced as its generated by a fashion school; illustrating and establishing new visions of styling, art direction and fashion design is significant if it can break through the barriers to entry for rising talent. The director himself reiterates that the publication reflects the difficulties and paradoxes of a world in which the new generation often have no place. «It is difficult for new generations to find spaces and ways to assert an identity of thought. For this reason, the school should leave an indelible trace of what is a necessity today: freedom of expression». As for heritage, it is not enough. This component must not only be reformulated, but a creative push is needed concerning the realm of expression. Far from the marketing needs of big giants, innovation is eager to emerge within a sector that considers emerging talents already active in the field for several years.

Art Thou 

A publication edited by Massimiliano Giornetti and Polimoda school that interprets, through the works of young talents newly graduated, the future visions in the fields of fashion design, fashion styling and art direction.

Chiara Narciso

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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