Take two architects met at IUAV University, add their great passion for fashion and the infinite love for their own city, Venice, mix it with high quality craftmanship and you will have the formula for success of Arnoldo]-[Battois, emerging accessory brand by Silvano Arnoldo and Massimiliano Battois.
Their training includes the most important Venetian companies such as the king of shoes René Caovilla and the handbags queen Roberta di Camerino. In 2001 they accepted the challenge to create their own collection of clothes and accessories produced by the best craftsmen of the Riviera del Brenta. Thanks to the experience acquired in the field, in 2006 they went back to IUAV University as professors in Accessories and clothing design for the Degree Course in Fashion Design. The great success finally came in 2010 with the participation to the ‘Who is on next?‘ contest by Vogue Italia and AltaRoma. From collection to collection they conquered the editorials of the major fashion magazines, thanks to their style that blends the synthesis of architectural lines with the softness of the leather and the Venice-inspired details.
I had the pleasure to interview Silvano Arnoldo and Massimiliano Battois after the presentation of the Spring Summer 2013 collection. For the next season the contrast of materials is enhanced by the color combinations: smooth and “gummy” calf leathers contrast with the gloss of patent leather and the rough effect resembling a tree’s cortex, declined in neutral shades of gray-blue, light blue, nude pink, earth brown and ivory. Enjoy the interview.
1) If you were to take stock of your career, what has changed and how have you changed since when you met at the Faculty of Architecture in Venice?
It is always very difficult to take a stock, especially when you are fully involved in a project you love and which takes every moment in your life. Maybe it’s not us who have changed, but our achievements have finally been acknowledged. We are harvesting with joy and awareness the fruits of our hard and constant work, developed over the years with the only purpose of showing what we really are and our ideas about fashion and design.
2) What has the most important moment in your career been?
Now, joys and satisfactions are mushrooming. The most “precious” moment, which started everything we are now undergoing was the ‘Who is on next?’ 2010 contest, organized by AltaRoma and Italian Vogue. We happened to be among the three finalists for the accessories category. Our S/S 2011 collection was exhibited in Milan in the Fashion Week, in the event organized by American Vogue and Vogue Italy with Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani.
3) As for Giuliana Coen Camerino, what has your cooperation with such an important brand as Roberta di Camerino meant for you?
Working with Giuliana, founder and creative director of Roberta di Camerino brand, has allowed us to fully appreciate the importance of the bag accessory, as well as the importance of the endless number of color combinations and the fact that creative process must pay an extremely careful attention to details.
4) The latest trend of Italian fashion marketing strategies is to give the responsibility of the most important traditional brands to new talents, obscuring their personal labels. I’m talking about brands such as Vionnet, Ferré, Schiaparelli and Galitzine. What do you think? Have you been (or would you like to be) asked to fill such a role, sacrificing your personal brand?
Beeing asked to give a new life to an historic brand would certainly be such a great pride. On the other hand it would be unthinkable to neglect our own brand, for which we have being working so hard for so many years. Commitment and determination can allow us to carry on both our plans and working for important brands.
5) The Venetian craftsmanship is one of the great resources of the Italian North-East, a symbol of quality and hard work, linked to manual ability. What is the relationship you have with your craftsmen?
Our collections have always been realized thanks to the knowledge and the know-how of the Venetian tradition of craftsmanship. We have often been advised to follow the example of the great brands that have chosen to replace these values with a less-skilled but much cheaper labour force. Since these times are very difficult we must focus on excellence and quality. We’ve been lucky to work with small workshops, which maintain the knowledge and technology acquired through decades of experience.
6) Talking about creativity. Given your different cultural backgrounds how does an Arnoldo] [Battois bag come to life? What inspires you? How do you choose forms and materials? How do you “research”?
It’s from the combination of these differences that ideas originate. The eye catches details and shades that come to settle in your mind and re-emerge as new combinations. The elements of the natural world and architectural structures constantly influence shapes, colours and textures of the collections. Venice, the city where we were born and where we still live, it is a constant presence to interact with and to take suggestions and inspirations from. The Arsenal, the heart of Venice and engine of the conquest of the East, provides ideas for handles and details: ropes from the vessels become soft nappa intertwinings for ergonomic handles, attached to the bag through precious brass, memories of exotic voyages.
7) One thing that you can’t miss when you design a new collection.
When we design a collection we focus more on the woman we want to address, an unconventional person, who does not follow fashion in order to feel adequate, but who has developed such a strong personality to choose on her own, discover new worlds, from art to fashion, from literature to travel.
8) Your creations are a mix of past and present, traditional materials and high-tech blend in sharp and sporty lines, but soft and elegant at the same time. How can you achieve such a balance?
Certainly our training as architects allows us to develop complex projects in a balanced way, so to have a careful control from the first stages, through the correction of the prototypes, to the final result.
9) Parallel with the line of accessories that has made you known to the general public, you design a special clothing line for the Venetian boutique. This year you have also presented a special leather clothing collection at Lineapelle. Would you like to focus and emerge even in the clothing field?
First we want to consolidate our bag collection, being present in the best international boutiques. Then we will engage in expanding the range of accessories we offer and eventually concentrate on a ready-to-wear collection reflecting our distinctive features.
10) Your short and long term plans for the future.
Our dream is to make the Arnoldo][Battois brand more and more present on the international scene without losing any of our distinctive features. It will be determinant to maintain the characteristics of the brand, continuously seeking innovative solutions, without modifing our sensitivity to meet market demands. Will keep on developing our project, a new and not standardized product focusing on quality and uniqueness. We are not concerned with masses but with individuals, we want to establish an intimate dialogue between us, our “objects” and those who choose them. Each bag tells a story that everyone who wants to meet us can reinterpret.