Why Hong Kong is so important for Alessandro Dell’Acqua
The Italian designer talks about his inspirations, how the fashion industry has changed and why he’s opened his first store in Hong Kong
Italian-born designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua first landed on the fashion scene two decades ago. He is founder of his own contemporary label No. 21 and is also creative director of French fashion house Rochas.
Why did you become a fashion designer?
When I was a teenager in Naples, I bought fashion magazines with my savings. I even took part in contests for young designers by Lei magazine, which I won. The publishing house wrote to me and suggested I move to Milan, which I did when I was 18. My first fashion job was at Enrica Massei, one of the most visionary Italian designers at the time. What excites me the most about being a designer is knowing that people enjoy wearing my clothes.
You launched your eponymous label in 1996 but lost the rights to your name. You made a comeback with No. 21 in 2010. How was it different the second time round?
It was a moment of my life where I was forced to make a change, so I created a brand that was completely different but without losing my DNA. As creative director, I reinvented my vision to create a clothing line that mixes my experience as a designer with a new approach focusing on the contemporary segment and wearable clothes. The No. 21 DNA is feminine and sexy but with a strong contemporary attitude. I wanted to develop the day wear which is an important part of the collection.
You recently opened your first store in Hong Kong. Why now?
Asia is an important market for us because people are very fashion conscious. They really appreciate quality fabrics and details. We started with a flagship in Tokyo, then five shop-in-shops in South Korea, and now Hong Kong. The Asia market counts for 45 per cent of the business.
How do you differentiate between Rochas and your own label?
In terms of resources I work on the two labels with the same team of designers. But I am constantly switching between two different mindset brands every day. The Rochas woman is definitely a more eccentric woman who appreciates the finest and richest fabrics that belong to a couture heritage, but that are worn with an easy attitude. The No. 21 woman is practical, yet seductive. The collection reflects the fact that every woman is unique and individual and celebrates the many forms of femininity today.
What’s your stance on See Now, Buy Now collections? Do you think they are killing creativity in fashion?
It works only for brands with big production companies and carry-overs. For No. 21 it’s not feasible. As long as there is creativity, fashion will always exist.
How has the industry changed since you first started out?
Once upon a time it was all about the perfect show and dream clothes. Today you win only if you sell. Everything is faster: soon after the show you are already working on the next pre-collection. Social media has also changed things. Back then fashion brands only had advertising campaigns and fashion shows as a form of dialogue with fans and potential consumers. Now social media allows anyone to wear your clothes and offers new points of view. Social media is a source of inspiration and a great way to get feedback about my collections.
Where do you get inspiration?
Inspiration is about atmosphere and sensations, real women and their attitude. I seek inspiration from cinema, from the street, from social media, even from fabrics.
What would you advise young designers looking to get into the fashion industry today?
They must be brave, loyal to their own style and consistent. You can’t change with the trends each season.
How do you stay modern and relevant in fashion today?
By being curious.