Alessandro Dell’acqua discusses his desire to support upcoming designers through this terrible time and how independent brands will move forward after the global pandemic
He has been one of the most loyal names to Italian fashion for decades since he first launched his own label in Milan in 1996. Inspired by Italian cinema, Alessandro Dell’Acqua became known for his unique take on refined evening wear that was given a unique edge. After closing his label Dell’Acqua worked with Brioni as Creative Director of womenswear before launching new contemporary brand N°21. This refreshing, contemporary label has allowed Dell’Acqua to expand his creative horizons and move into a new area of design.
The name N°21, was inspired by Dell’Acqua’s birth date and the brand also reflects himself and his love for creativity. N°21 is devoted to daywear with a freshness and freeness about it. Dell’Acqua’s approach to fashion embraces freedom and the right expression. The spring/summer 2020 collection was the first collection to see both men’s and women’s looks in the same presentation. The silhouettes were exaggerated with soft shapes, flowing, fluid materials with the freedom to move, as well as the freedom of gender – with many pieces designed for both genders and many women’s pieces inspired by men’s styles and vice versa. Here we discuss with Dell’Acqua the latest collection as well as the plans for the future of the brand when this global pandemic is over.
What does Italy mean to you personally?
Italy to me means family and tradition.
Tell us more about the importance of the “Made in Italy” and why do you think there is such a fascination with this concept globally?
Made in Italy stands for quality, know-how and heritage with an extreme international flair.
How do you think the values and culture of Italy are reflected through N21?
The extreme attention to details, manufacture and tailoring are the main strengths of N°21 and this reflects the values of Italy.
How does Italy Inspire you?
Italian creativity inspires me through many forms of arts, especially through cinema. I have a great passion for Italian cinema, especially films from the Golden Age. The women that starred in those movies inspired most of my collections and still do.
Italy has suffered greatly throughout the global pandemic we are currently experiencing – when all of this is over what do you expect to see from the recovery of this crisis?
We will keep the passion and the love for what we do. I think we will have to discard anything that it is not essential, unnecessary and excessive.
In every crisis, there is always an opportunity – what is something positive that will come out of this painful situation?
N°21 actually started in a moment of deep economic crisis. It’s unique price point and quality led to its success. Personally, I think that we will all have to focus on supporting local talents and using local production.
When all of this is over will you be changing any of the strategies of the brand and has it had an impact on how you will move forward?
I think we will need to concentrate on fewer collections, smaller collections, more quality and more creativity. Unfortunately, all brands will be affected by this crisis, especially small and independent companies.
Do you think it will impact the buying behaviour of customers?
Yes, I believe that people will buy fewer products, they will focus on more precious and special items.
When this entire situation is over, what is the first thing that you will do?
For the next Milan fashion week, I am planning to make my showroom space available for young designers to showcase their collections both to press and buyers.
What is the motto you are living by during this time?
“Alone but together” and “Through passion to fashion”.
What can you tell us about N°21’s SS20 collection?
For this collection, I wanted to bring together the women’s and men’s collections for the show because I want to give a narrative unity to my idea of fashion. The initial inspiration behind this collection is a sense of romance and a physical and emotional connection with the body. I designed the same clothes for women and men, without falling into the no-gender trap, yet having the two genders — female and male — meet in a continual intersection of references of lines, volumes and fabrics.
Growing up, what are some of your first memories of Italy as a child?
My first memories are from experiences in Naples, where I was born and lived until I was 18 years before moving to Milan. I remember the women of my family cooking Sunday lunch in their nude slip dresses, those that inspired so many collections of both Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s brand and N°21. I also remember how much I loved going to the cinema with my grandfather. My dream was in fact, to become an actor but I was too shy. That’s where my passion for cinema started.
Where in Italy do you like to travel to?
As soon as I am able to I will go back to Ischia and the Amal coast.
Can you share with us any Italian traditions that you have with your family and friends?
Sunday lunch will always be for family and friends.
How are you spending your days during this quarantine period?
I have been dedicating a lot of my time searching for emerging international designers, which – alas – in normal times I have no time to do. I am also going through my personal archive, photography books and old fashion magazines to get inspired.
What’s your favourite Italian phrase?
“Andrà tutto bene” meaning, “everything will be fine.”
How would you describe Italy in one word?