A coherent and yet diverse color scheme, wool, cotton, silk – the FW 2018 collection of Italy-based menswear label D’ALPAOS presented their designs at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Ljubljana 2017 in the Ljubljana Exhibition Center on Thursday night.
The label was founded in 2012, when the designer Nicola D’Alpaos started a capsule collection of bags with a friend. The friend, an artist, took care of painting the bags while D’Alpaos was responsible for the designs. After his return to Italy, he was inspired to start a fashion collection and launched a capsule collection of T-Shirts, to which he got a very positive response.
Even though he is not from a fashion background, his understanding of aesthetics and trends is on point. The first fashion based collection of T-Shirts were oversized and Japan-inspired; asymmetric cuts and the oversized nature of the garments was not a trend three years ago and yet became more and more commercial, which becomes clear by how well they were received when D’Alpaos launched them.
“And here we are now!” he says, laughing, when asked about the development of his brand from the very beginning to now. He takes a sip of Chivas Regal, and starts talking about the inspirations for his collection. This is the fourth season of the brand creating complete outfits and preparing for a runway show is always a hectic thing. Yet, D’Alpaos and his team are relaxed, humble and kind, and take their time answering all of our questions.
What were the inspirations for this collection?
D’ALPAOS: “There was more than just one, actually. First of all, I wanted to show how diverse wool is. We mixed and styled it with cotton, silk, some cashmere. Mostly virgin wool and that in just any possible way. I get inspirations from the past, from details that aren’t used anymore, from the artisan handmade craftsmanship like knitting (hats and gloves) and a look into the future thinking about a tridimensional vision of textures. Those textures are created as brooches to be removed and are completely hand made. My modeler and me we started choosing the right fabrics, we selected the best color palette we wanted to present the different textures that are always present in our collections, especially in the winter collection we focus on a material-focused vision. In this FW18 collection we used most stripes, some into virgin wool / wool fabrics, some on cotton, some made with soft wool embroidered on a cotton-mix for the shirts. Once the concept is decided we go through the shapes we want to create, we always think about creating Unisex shapes. From the beginning of D’ALPAOS we have been creating Unisex garments; it was in our DNA and it still is like this.”
Using that, he created beautifully flowing oversized coats in dark caramel tones, O-Silhouettes and straight H-Shapes. Long coats, layering, a few accessories like scarves, wide-legged trousers and slim-cut button-down shirts with interesting details were what made the collection very special.
He continues: “Furthermore I wanted to share a small story about age and the years behind and also in front of us. That is why some parts of the designs are heavily inspired by the 30’s and others by the 80’s. Some highlights, like detachable pins on a long, black wool coat are representative of some futuristic influences. There are belts that can be seen in the fashion of the 30s and the shapes of some of the trousers are mostly inspired by the fashion of Japan in the 80s. All of my designs in this collection represent different eras in the fashion world. “
Do you have a favorite piece?
D’ALPAOS: “I think my favorite piece is the black woolen coat, which was also the last piece in the show. It is 100% handmade, including the detachable pins, that are all small pieces of art.”
Even though the collection is based on a relatively large variety of colors, the feeling and the atmosphere it creates when shown in Ljubljana is very calm and coherent. Many black pieces are styled with some crème white highlights; button down shirts are worn with flowing, wide-legged trousers that are checkered in blue, yellow and red. One outfit that sticks out of the rest is a Bordeaux-red woolen jumper styled with trousers of the same color and fabric. Highlights furthermore include a brown ankle-long coat that creates a slim H-line silhouette, styled with a button down shirt and trousers, both in a dark shade of blue. Some important highlights are also pieces in mint green and mustard yellow, bringing unexpected change and are yet nothing out of place. The models were styled with shoes from Trippen and glasses from Hapter; every thing in perfect harmony.
D’ALPAOS: “ We wanted to try something new, something different. We put a highlight here and there, mostly because we wanted to try some new different things and see how they are perceived; trying to always keep our identity and still change a grow a bit every season. We really only want to work with people that believe in us, and that can authentically represent our label. We don’t want them to solely sell us for commercial reasons, but more because they can identify with us, too.”
How do you start a collection? A piece of paper and a pen? A Mood board? Please tell us about your creative process!
D’ALPAOS: “I used to start a collection focusing on a few concepts to match together. I started this collection thinking and looking at the fabrics I wanted to use, thinking about different concepts, trying to recount a story using every details I loved from different decades, from the 30’s passing through the 80’s with a piece of the contemporary and a personal vision of the future. I think the future of contemporary luxury brands is more handmade pieces, more details, more art, more tailoring. I always sketch everything with mechanical pencils.
We then try our shapes step by step with a real person. The mood board is essential but wasn’t that extensive this time, the inspiration specially in a collection made by past details must work with some specific moods to better understand the difference in the two historical period to be able to understand them and recreate them in our way. We used a color mood board and some old occidental and Japanese pictures of men’s and women’s wear, especially from the 30’s and 80’s plus some architectural images and art installations for this collection.”
What made you decide to focus on menswear?
D’ALPAOS: “We actually focus on gender-fluid clothes, this since the very first capsule collection when it wasn’t a much used as concept. Some pieces on request are created even thinking about a woman, creating dresses and skirts but just few of them and usually for special request from our clients.”