For this third installment of IN STUDIO, we visited the studio of Carlotta Orlando, the founder and designer behind Giglio Tigrato, a project born out of a passion for upcycling and painting. When Carlotta created the Instagram profile @gigliotigrrrato, somewhat playfully, the idea was to personalize clothing and showcase a vintage selection. In October 2020, Giglio Tigrato officially came to life, initially focused on upcycling and more recently incorporating true Made in Italy sartorial collections. All garments are crafted from leftover fabrics, known as deadstock, in the case of Giglio, sourced from major fashion and luxury companies. The reuse of material extends not only to the garment itself, perhaps in need of revitalization, but also to the fabric proper. The Giglio team is expanding, and the project is gradually growing organically. The intention is not to leave behind the values that characterize Carlotta’s initial idea. Collaboration with Guerrillab for graphics and other small entities reinforces Giglio Tigrato’s mission to distance itself from the mainstream and not follow trends and micro-trends. Let’s explore the studio—or rather, atelier—where Carlotta and her all-female team work on collections, and more.
Who is Carlotta Orlando?
Born in 1998, Carlotta Orlando, also known as Ciotti, is the founder, designer, and creative director of Giglio Tigrato. After completing the Fashion Design course at the Polytechnic University of Milan and gaining some experience in Italian fashion houses, she decided to bring her neverland to life. Giglio Tigrato pays clear homage to the Tiger Lily princess from Peter Pan. Carlotta is the visionary behind this project that looks towards sustainability and envisions a more sustainable future for fashion, without compromise.
We find ourselves in the Parco Sempione area of Milan, on the top floor of an elegant condominium. Carlotta welcomes us into her attic, which serves as both her studio and home. Amidst pieces from the collection neatly arranged on racks and cowboy hats scattered around the space, we sit down to converse with her. Surrounding us are all her memories and numerous sketches, threads of every color, and even a heat press—everything needed to bring a collection to life. In one corner, there are some scraps ready to be transformed into something new. Carlotta emphasizes the importance of sharing spaces with others, friends, and collaborators. However, it’s worth noting that the division between home and studio is clearly defined; her studio is intentionally conceived as a true atelier, a laboratory, distinctly separated from everyday life and personal space.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, and how does your role as Creative Director, Founder, and Designer of Giglio Tigrato unfold?
My passion for fashion design arose almost by chance at the Polytechnic University of Milan. It all started with a mistake. During university, I began to hear about sustainability, an approach I continued to follow even after my studies. In fact, Giglio Tigrato was born in October 2020, initially focused on upcycling and now complete with true Made in Italy sartorial collections. All made from leftover fabrics, the so-called deadstock. Sustainability, therefore, not only reflects in the soul of Giglio Tigrato but also in how I dress, travel, and eat. My research focuses on unique pieces, basic garments, and especially on layers to combine with other clothes we already have in the wardrobe. Along with my team, I strive to leave behind trends and micro-trends to create seasonless collections that do not adhere to the conventional fashion systems.
What materials and textures do you prefer?
I don’t particularly prefer any material. Usually, I start with what I find when designing Giglio’s collections. I draw and plan on whatever happens to be in my hands. Despite this approach, I prefer natural, recyclable fibers that are also more durable over time. By using deadstock from major companies, we also ensure superior quality. In general, I love animal prints and all patterns that allow playful and unconventional combinations.
What object cannot be missing in your studio?
Music. The right background that accompanies our work in the studio remains one of the most important things. Whether I’m alone in the atelier or not. Alternatively, we also listen to podcasts.
How do you relate to the studio? How do you experience/perceive it? Is it solely a workspace or also a communal space to meet friends or other designers or artists?
From the beginning, my view of the studio reflects that of the “neverland.” Not only because Giglio Tigrato is one of the characters from Peter Pan, but also because at its birth, during the pandemic, it was a real way to escape and do what makes me feel good. Today, the atelier also becomes a place where I love to gather many people. On occasions, we host true open ateliers: inviting those interested in the new collections, transforming this space into a place of sharing.
How long have you been in this studio? Are you attached, or do you have a more nomadic conception of the workplace? Would you leave tomorrow?
In this field, it’s very difficult to work while traveling or outside of your studio. The sewing machine is too cumbersome to transport, and that’s why, since the adventure of Giglio Tigrato began, I’ve felt more attached to Milan. This is my workspace, and despite spending many days away, it’s crucial to gather in a space to stay focused.
How do you build a collection? Where do you start? Can you tell us about your creative process?
I start with the material. For Giglio Tigrato and for me as an upcycling designer, it means reusing something that has been set aside. The search for fabrics or vintage garments is the beginning of my creative process. Afterward, we move on to drawing and research. In this sense, layers are fundamental in my way of envisioning collections. Then comes prototyping. We collaborate with a pattern maker in Milan who takes care of the initial prototypes, while a family-run tailoring business outside the city handles the collection. It’s about eighty pieces, so still a very small collection, but one that aims to grow.
What are you currently working on? What are your future projects?
For now, the goal is to further grow Giglio Tigrato. I’m considering opening a storefront, but along with my team, I would also like to start working on our first fashion show to present in early 2025. Linked to this, I would like to transition from two collections a year to one. Clearly, seasonless.
ph Credits Andrés Juan Suarez