Rossella Jardini keeps Moschino fun
A bunch of young assistants and a commitment to the label's founding ideals help Rossella Jardini keep Moschino fun, writes Jing Zhang
Cancelling the traditional slot at men's fashion week in Milan, Moschino creative director Rossella Jardini instead debuted her spring-summer 2014 men's collection in Shanghai, during her first visit to the mainland.
The show also marked the 30th anniversary of the label. "This is a way to celebrate," says Jardini, who is wearing sleek cat-eye framed glasses, and a considerable amount of colourful bling, while holding court at a Hong Kong hotel.
"But we also wanted to bring the full experience of the brand to China for the first time, with menswear, womenswear, and the archives," she adds.
The mega show used Asian talent, including mainland supermodels Du Juan and Emma Pei, who wore Moschino's Resort collection and a special selection of archive pieces. Male model Zhao Lei opened the men's line-up.
With all the bold signature monochrome, and copious amounts of gold, red and florals in fun girly silhouettes, audiences were left wondering why it has taken this long for Moschino, and Jardini, to come to China.
"The show was always going to be different, and longer. It's not like in Milan, where you just watch for 10 minutes and then run off to see another show," she says of the event in Shanghai, where a fourth Moschino store had just opened.
But Jardini admits the visit won't be purely business, as she hopes to do a bit of shopping. "I want to buy some Chinese cultural and artistic things while I'm here."
The men's spring-summer 2014 collection featured bright clashing colour blocks and prints on collared shirts and fitted jackets. There were classic tuxedos with fun detailing, a bold print of lightning blots, and an urbanite-meets-outdoor sports theme.
One jacket had an ergonomic backpack built on the back, khaki cargo shorts, and vest pockets stuffed with silver cutlery in a characteristically tongue-in-cheek presentation.
"That was a very funny jacket, with all the pockets and cutlery sticking out. I have to say, I've never worn that jacket," says Jardini, "I won't ever wear that."
The spirit of Moschino is all about irony, humour and fun - a quality rare in the industry these days. Franco Moschino, who started the label in 1983, often satirised and mocked the industry and its snobbery.
Ironically, fashion folk embraced him, and the brand became more popular. When Franco died of a heart attack in 1994, his assistant and close friend, Jardini took over creative direction.
"The relationship between myself and Franco is like an impossible love story, because I, of course, have a long term partner and Franco was gay, but we were very close."
Since then the shows have remained outrageous, pop, fun affairs that don't take themselves too seriously. But the collections have also included more elegant pieces that Jardini favours.
"That spirit comes from the collaboration between Franco and me," she says. "Franco was a very talented designer, so the humorous things are also a provocation. But when I worked for him, I asked him to design clothes that I wanted to wear."
For almost 20 years, Jardini has been the label's creative director and muse, as well as its public face. She works with a creative team of three or four assistants. The assistants do the formal designing, but she defines the look, message and major elements of each season with them.
Jardini plays with the fabrications and colour, but others do the pattern cutting, and the drawings for the shapes and silhouettes. There is a lot of close collaboration, Jardini says, "and the process is quite organic and complicated".
Jardini is keeping the spirit of Moschino young and energetic for the main lines (male and female), the Moschino Cheap & Chic diffusion line, Moschino Jeans, and the successful perfume and accessories ranges. She credits many ideas to her younger assistants.
"It's like a big family," she says. "I don't have children, so I consider some of them like my children. I care and worry about them. They are quite young, and full of inspiration."
Jardini says that the core spirit of the label hasn't really changed. "I'm not saying that there hasn't been change over the last 20 years. But it's hard for me to feel or explain how it has evolved, because the creative direction always came from Franco. That hasn't changed. This sense of consistency is a special and rare situation in a maison these days, as big designers and new directions usually come and go quickly," she says.
Jardini clearly has a sense of humour, and she drops other designers' names with friendly abandon.
She likes to support and buy young designers, but feels that the search goes on for a modern-day great talent with courage and coherence, such as "Franco Moschino or Yves Saint Laurent".
Jardini is part of another group in Milan: Italian female fashion powerhouses. These include Consuelo Castiglioni, Miuccia Prada, Angela Missoni, Alberta Ferretti, Veronica Etro and Donatella Versace.
"I'm good friends with a lot of these women," Jardini says. "There is a lot of difference between male and female designers. Women will consider how it feels when they are designing, and they ask if it's wearable and comfortable.
"Some men design things that are strange and extreme, things that no woman would wear because they are too heavy or uncomfortable. But these designers usually wear simple styles themselves, a simple shirt and pants.
"I sometimes think, 'Why don't you wear what you design?'" she says, before laughing at the thought.