There are a times when a designer joins a brand and the result is pure magic. I witnessed it when Phoebe Philo showed her first collection for Celine. I got a similar feeling again when I saw the images from Alessandra Facchinetti’s first collection for luxury brand Tod’s.
Alessandra may not a celebrity designer (yet) but she is incredibly talented. Born and raised in Italy, she spent the majority of her career working at a range of high profile fashion houses including Miu Miu, Valentino and Gucci. Her design career diversified when she launched Uniqueness, an online project with Spanish brand Pinko, which featured a seasonal collection available exclusively online.
Last year she made headlines when she was appointed the creative director of Tod’s Women’s Collection, launching her first line in time for spring/summer 2014 (it’s already trickling into stores). Tod’s as you know is a brand that is all about heritage and craftsmanship, so I was curious to see how Alessandra would play with their Made in Italy DNA while taking it to a modern audience.
The results are stunning. The ready-to-wear pieces have a special quality – while the materials are precious, the silhouettes are effortless and chic while evoking this feeling of luxury and desire. Highlights include paper thin leather skirts (some with perforations) and fluid leather dresses that are contemporary yet elegant. The tailoring is another standout with covetable pieces like classic cotton shirts and a beautiful blue suit , which is the perfect balance of masculine and feminine.
Then there are of course the iconic accessories which have gotten a cool update. The Gommino driving loafer comes in stripes and spots, while other styles are decorated with fringing for a bit of fun. The D Bag is given a mod, geometric update to create the D-Cube with angular lines and contrasting colours panels. Another favourite is the large Horse shopper which is destined to replace my Celine cabas. There is also a small edit of sculptural bangles and Equestrian inspired belts.
I was fortunate enough to meet with Alessandra on a trip to Hong Kong last year to chat about the collection. Read on to find out more.
Tod’s spring/summer 2014
Why did you become a designer?
I liked the idea of working with shapes and forms. I enjoy the idea of manipulating fabrics on the body of the woman.
What attracted you to Tod’s?
First of all it is one of the most luxurious Italian brands. But what really excited me was the challenge of creating the body of a woman that didn’t exist previously. Plus it’s Italian and I am Italian so it was easy!
Tod’s is a brand that’s rooted in accessories rather than ready-to-wear – did this pose a challenge when you first start designing the collection?
It was very different for me because when I usually design a ready-to-wear collection I take inspiration from the woman. But when you have such a strong heritage in accessories you really have to think how she can wear the clothes with the shoes or bags first. I found this premise super interesting. So instead of designing the clothes then shoes, I started with accessories first then the clothes.
What were the highs and lows for you?
The most exciting part was figuring out how to work with the leathers, especially for the summer season. I tried so many different manipulations but I had a breakthrough when I used leather like a simple material such as cotton. It made it so much easier. The hardest part for me was the shoes because Tod’s has such a legacy in this category. I had to combine my creativity with their technical ability which was interesting.
How would you describe the first collection?
There is always this play between unisex and feminine. I like the fact that it’s never too sweet or romantic. If you think about the shoes and bags, they are very classic but I wanted to move them forward in terms of construction, shape and detail. The clothes are not about a total look, but about creating singular must-have items. The first look I created was the red leather T-shirt and skirt which really embodies my vision.
What are you excited to explore in your upcoming collections?
I am really into tailoring, so that will still continue for fall, while I work on perfecting the vision. The ready-to-wear will continue to be small and very focused. There are already tonnes of clothes out there, so I want to deliver something that gives a woman emotion when she wears it.
Which do you prefer – accessories or ready-to-wear?
[Laughs] I used to love clothes but now it’s different. Today I find it difficult to design clothes without seeing the shoes first!