EVERYBODY LOVES ANDREA – AN ENCOUNTER WITH ANDREA CAMMAROSANO

Interview with Marlo Saalmink

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In those first days of fall, when the crispness is fully tangible, reflection often ponders in. Whether about the shift of season, the end of the year or what we have seen this past spring and long summer. It is about a connection. To ourselves and to what we surround ourselves with. Waning in this mood, I decided to catch up with ANDREA CAMMAROSANO, a designer, I had been following for quite some time. Andrea turned out to be locked in a similar state of mind, hence we connected immediately, whilst discussing reality, filters, his work and what connects people. Naturally, we focused on the man’s craft: his latest collection for his eponymous brand. It is truly a pleasure to further introduce Andrea to you.

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History. Andrea, as is traditional, could you first describe your path leading to where you are today?

Originally, I started in Antwerp at the Royal Academy. It was an incredible experience, because of the quality and of the intensity of the school. After graduating I worked as design assistant for Walter Van Beirendonck, which allowed me spend couple more years in that atmosphere of creativity. He is my mentor and my friend. I spent some short but important periods in London and Amsterdam before landing in San Francisco, where I lived for two years, and I finally came back to Italy in 2013, to establish my production base. All these years where like a Grand Tour.  Antwerp completely unlocked my creative potential.  London was so vibrant – all the people I met when I was there, like Craig Green or Daniel Sannwald, are doing amazing work right now. In San Francisco I understood how it is important to affect your community and to generate creative noise – often with humor. Finally, I decided to come back to Italy, because well…I just realized how beautiful it is, and how pretty are the things that we can make here. And I am able to work with amazing people like Linda Loppa.

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Process. Your creative process is quite dense and dissects several social and anthropologic themes. Could you describe these for your SS15 collection?

In this collection I was looking for a feeling of weightlessness,  but with content. This is what ideas are. The clothes I designed are simple and effortless; It is a collection for a man who is like a young philosopher. I approached my references in a straightforward way – a t-shirt with a panel that hints at a toga. A workwear smock with taped-down pleats. Patched-up sweaters with a mix of knitted stitches and woven fabrics. And prints where I played with the sacredness of art and the immediateness of life, through collages and splashes of glitter.  But of course there is a lot of content, as you say. There is so much heaviness in the world – tireless repetitions of identical objects, and so much garbage – I really wanted something light and immediate.  The motto, “Living in the world of ideas”, is a manifesto for doing very much with very little. To look at the essence, not at the surface.  

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Absolving. Creation is often restricted. You seem to keep free from these stigmas. How do you merge form with function and approach utility in your garments/silhouettes?

As a designer, I am interested in social functions and in utility.You can create a revolution wearing just sandals and a tunic, or you can be perfectly useless in your high-tech gear. To me, it is really very simple: good clothes are clothes that look nice and feel nice; that carry good ideas, new ideas; are made in good materials and with the right amount of detail and decoration. Today fashion is so much about the hype, but a garment is just three things: seams, fabric, and shape. They all must be beautiful and must contain value. You can really use experimentation as an advantage. This is why I mix tailoring and fluidity. I like to manipulate a light fabric through the cut of the garment and vice-versa to softly drape a thick fabric: to me, these are the facets that compose masculinity.

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Distortion. The imagery along with the collection, appears rather distorted and modified. Could you explain your thought here and why you chose this specific visual form?

When I started designing this collection, I had this vision of a heavy statue floating in the sky. The passage of clouds, and the shimmering reflections of the sun would be constantly playing with its shape, distorting its face. This is how Ideas can be sometimes – you cannot quite grasp them, but they are bright and clear. Representing my clothes through abstraction was a way to convey this message. When photography was invented, in the mid 1800s, painters stopped representing things literally and turned to the impressions of their human eye.  Where is that moment in fashion? In the past there was a lot happening in this direction, but now? Literalism is the trap of our times.  We should turn towards the feelings, the impressions, towards the creative collage and chaos inside our hearts.

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Connection. How do you interact with your surroundings, audience and customers?

I embrace my audience and customers as friends – that may sound cheesy, but its also my way of ensuring there are no assholes around my business. Of course business is business, but without human trust and appreciation you don’t go very far; also, I don’t buy stuff from people I don’t like, and I expect people would do the same with me. Its important to build this tribe – the people that speak a good language must come together. I am lucky to belong to a circle of international designers and friends – people like Craig Green, Jean Paul Lespagnard, Lena Lumelsky and many others. It is inspiring and rewarding to be their friend and to talk to each other. I admire these young designers so much because I can see how much it takes, and I think our audience and customers get this too – together we can shape a good future.

Development. Your work has a strong artistic backdrop. How do you see your creative development and more importantly your functional growth as a designer?

Good art has to be real. I mean, there can’t be a separation between art and life. This is why it is important to honor the objects that you are creating and the inspiration you are drawing them from. A designer, I always say, has to be a filter for the reality around him or her. Maybe everything has already been done (well I don’t believe it), but contexts are always different. Creating context is essential for me, and I guess that is what you call my “artistic backdrop”. What I learned about the creative process, is the importance of selecting ideas. At the beginning for me it was all about putting everything out, then I learnt how important it is to decide what you will keep for yourself and what you will give to others. I have some amazing people around me that help me draw this line, which otherwise I could not always see myself. I am very lucky to have the team that I have, and that is what is making my current growth possible.

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Engagement. As a fellow professor, I know what it entails to teach a new generation. How
do you approach your students and what advice and goals to you give them?

The most important thing is to work hard and to be honest. Be a filter for the reality around you. In this way you will absorb everything. Make a lot of samples. Use your eyes. Use your hands. Always ask yourself the question: what does this mean to me? Refuse pre-packaged meaning. Skip the trivia, get to the essence of things. Whatever project you are busy with, keep the intensity strong. When you do something, whether it is for five seconds or fifty years get to the bottom of it. And smile – we are here to enjoy and to make pretty things – if you don’t enjoy it, why then bother.

All photos by Ruggero Mengoni

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