Walter Albini, the designer who brought Fashion Week to Milan

Walter Albini, the designer who brought Fashion Week to Milan

Anna Frattini · 2 months ago · Style

Walter Albini, widely known among fashion enthusiasts, is a name that has been talked about little for too long. Last May, the revival of the eponymous brand was announced by the Swiss investment group Bidayat. But who is Walter Albini, and why did he choose Milan in 1972 to present his creations at the Circolo del Giardino, opening the doors to what is now, over fifty years later, the Fashion Week as we know it? To discover more about the designer’s history, one can visit the “Walter Albini” exhibition at the Study and Communication Archive Center (CSAC) of the University of Parma, open until April 14. But let’s go in order.

Who is Walter Albini

Born in 1941 in Busto Arsizio, Walter Albini paved the way for all Italian designers to come. The inventor of the total look and Italian prêt-à-porter, Albini focused on making clothes accessible to the middle class. His research on fabrics and production methods brought fashion closer to people, acting as a bridge to the future. In 1972, he presented five collections for five different fashion houses: Callaghan for jersey, Basile for outerwear, Escargots for knitwear, Diamants for shirts, and Misterfox for evening dresses. All of this took place at the Circolo del Giardino in Milan. In short, Albini’s vision was already looking towards contemporaneity. At a time when the epicenter of fashion was Paris, Florence, and Rome progressively became symbols of Italian fashion, thanks in part to the strategy of Gian Battista Giorgini, the promoter of the Italian brand par excellence. This modus operandi set the stage for Walter Albini’s vision, which, in turn, transformed Milan into the nerve center of the Italian fashion system as we know it today. Despite his premature death in 1983, Walter Albini remains a key figure in Italian fashion.

The reason he presented his clothes in Milan lies in the partnership that developed between the textile industry and fashion. It took a few more years to see the Milan Fashion Week flourish: in 1976, as Olivia Selene recounts in Vogue Italia, everyone except Valentino moved to the Lombard capital to present their collections. At that time, it seemed to be the perfect city to host fashion presentations ready to be worn, given the editorial, creative, and marketing fervor active in Milan.

Curtesy CSAC

The exhibition at the CSAC of the University of Parma

The “Walter Albini” exhibition at the CSAC, part of the University of Parma, aims to give back the designer’s legacy from his beginnings in the 1960s to the early 1980s. The exhibition, curated by Matilde Alghisi and Paola Pagliari, is built on two separate donations: the first from 1983 belonging to Paolo Rinaldi and the second from Marisa Curti, Walter Albini’s partner for many years, holding most of the archive surviving until today. All the material showcased by the curators revolves around Albini’s creative force, from pencil drawings dating back to his art school years to sketches heavily influenced by the liberty culture, the 1930s and 1940s, Coco Chanel, Bauhaus, Constructivism, and Viennese geometric motifs. In these sketches, the stylist’s entire creative vision is captured, combined with vintage photographs that allow a reliving of his early fashion shows, especially the one at Circolo del Giardino, the beginning of Made in Italy that convinced almost everyone to move to Milan.

Walter Albini, the designer who brought Fashion Week to Milan
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Walter Albini, the designer who brought Fashion Week to Milan
Walter Albini, the designer who brought Fashion Week to Milan
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Ivana Sfredda, If We Assimilate To Enjoy (And To Lose Ourselves)

Ivana Sfredda, If We Assimilate To Enjoy (And To Lose Ourselves)

Giorgia Massari · 3 days ago · Photography

I’m not sure if it’s the sexual component that catches my attention. Perhaps it’s some elements, especially snails, that evoke a sense of familiarity in me, but also nostalgia for something I can’t quite identify. There’s a call back to my childhood, and it’s precisely the snails that evoke it. They were my only playmates when I spent the summer in a remote mountain location, in my grandparents’ garden which after a storm became the perfect habitat for these small creatures, as slimy as they were curious. Back then, I would pick them up from their shells, place them on my arms, and let them slide over me, amused by the trail of slime they left on my skin. I didn’t know it then, but I was assimilating them. In fact, that’s exactly what Ivana Sfredda talks about in the photos she showed me a few weeks ago in her studio in Milan. Soak up is the title of the series still in work in progress that the Molisan photographer has been working on since 2022, or perhaps even earlier. Interpreting the Anglo-Saxon term “soak up” literally, it refers to the sensation of enjoyment perceived in the act of assimilation. A unique human and animal need, that of joining someone or something, of being connected, and of “annihilating the boundaries that delimit a body.”

ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda

Ivana Sfredda’s macro shots do not contemplate any subject hierarchy. A strawberry in a man’s mouth, a group of worms intertwined, a droplet about to fall from an old faucet, all appear one after the other in a carousel of images that dance hand in hand in a perpetual circle, without jerks or arrogance. Hand in hand, united, assimilated into each other, in the other. So that in the act of encounter between two bodies, there is no longer a “my body” and “your body.” The power dynamics that humans have built in the relationship between artifact and nature are nullified. Perhaps this is where my childhood memory fits in, where it is clear that in that space-time arc, I did not know of this imposition, and no construct had yet had time to settle in the logic that today exists in me, the inequality of man > animal or even more so, artificial > nature.

ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda

But there is something beyond this unconsciousness or yet uncorrupted consciousness. Ivana explains it to me by citing Mario Perniola, a philosopher, writer, and theorist of contemporary art, delving into the sexuality mentioned earlier. Because it is clear that in the union of two bodies there is a tension that moves them towards each other, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be laden with a pleasurable end. Perhaps it’s just an unconscious need to lose one’s original form?

«Perniola identifies in sexuality a point of suspension that he defines as neutral sexuality: the detachment from one’s own body that implies a sense of estrangement, cybernetic and indeed neutral. This erotic impulse detaches itself from the pursuit of carnal pleasure in function of an intense contact where the organic and inorganic body becomes a meaningful surface. A very powerful communication system that leaps beyond the categories of human/artificial, human/animal, animal/artificial – relative to being as such – which traces the fluid architectures of an alternative body.»

ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda

As explained by Ivana Sfredda, in the encounter with the other, the self feels fulfilled. This reminds me of a book I read some time ago when I was searching for a more conscious self. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle – found in the “esotericism” section of a bookstore – actually talked about this. It discussed how the self exists only in the reflection in the other, when the annulment of the ego occurs, which only defines the boundaries of a prison where a false narrative of ourselves lives. So, in Ivana Sfredda’s shots, which she explains to me are a sort of exercise and play, all this is visually translated, as if to illustrate the daily and widespread existence of continuous equal and harmonious connections between elements that seem distant both in a hierarchical and semantic sense.

«The series focuses on the meaning of contact and relational energy, an exercise in imagining how these incomplete relationships can represent profound portals of learning.»

ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda
ivana sfredda

Courtesy & Copyright Ivana Sfredda

Ivana Sfredda, If We Assimilate To Enjoy (And To Lose Ourselves)
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Ivana Sfredda, If We Assimilate To Enjoy (And To Lose Ourselves)
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Alec Gill and Hessle Road photo archive

Alec Gill and Hessle Road photo archive

Anna Frattini · 3 days ago · Photography

Alec Gill is an English photographer, historian, and psychologist born in Hull, a city in the East Riding of Yorkshire county, famously known for its port. A few years ago, a crowdfunding campaign was launched on Kickstarter to celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of the first photo taken for the project dedicated to Hessle Road with a book, and we’re discussing it here today. The archive of 7,000 photographs – taken with his Rolleicord twin-lens reflex camera – dates back to the decade between 1970 and 1980. There are 240 images included in The Alec Gill Hassle Road photo archive, and in each of them, one can feel the atmosphere of a very difficult historical moment for the residents. It marks the decline of the fishing industry and the demolitions of mass housing in the area.

alec gill photo archive

The Alec Gill Hassle Road photo archive

The book, launched on May 18th last year, was written and conceived by Iranzu Baker and Fran Méndez. In this interview with Port, Baker discusses some aspects of working with Alec Gill. The photographer – during the writing of the book – proved to be «endlessly curious, extremely determined and dedicated». During those years, Gill also focused on the lack of play areas for children and how younger generations adapted to the changes in the area. Another goal was certainly to freeze time before the end of an era. That of fishing in the area, ended with the Cod Wars starting from 1958 until 1972 and 1975. A piece of history that thanks to Gill has not been forgotten.

Gill’s is a genuine inclination towards the stories of the underdogs. The aim was to ensure that these stories were told, both now and at the time of the shots. The Alec Gill Hassle Road photo archive is not just a social study, therefore. It is a testament to the relationship Gill has established on a human level with his fellow citizens. Their stories seem to tell themselves in front of the photographer’s lens. Furthermore, the naturalness of the shots not only captures the theme of childhood but also communicates extremely functionally moments of the daily life of the inhabitants of Hassle Road.

Alec Gill and Hessle Road photo archive
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Alec Gill and Hessle Road photo archive
Alec Gill and Hessle Road photo archive
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Nanni Licitra’s non-places

Nanni Licitra’s non-places

Giorgia Massari · 2 days ago · Photography

Nanni Licitra ‘s (1988) photographs focus primarily on non-places, anonymous and impersonal spaces that dot urban peripheries. Licitra transforms these marginal areas into other scenarios that acquire new meaning. We are talking about the series Hell end in Hell, whose images are emblematic reflections of a society in transformation, where the individual struggles to find a sense of belonging and identity in an increasingly chaotic and alienating context. The series, winner of the Liquida Photofestival Grant, on view in Turin from May 2 to 5, is a true socio-cultural analysis that reflects in toto the contradictions of contemporary society.

nanni licitra

Nanni Licitra ha iniziato la sua ricerca fotografica nel 2008 concentrandosi esclusivamente sulla fotografia analogica. Questa scelta non è casuale; infatti, la fotografia analogica richiede una pazienza e una precisione che si riflettono nel suo approccio distaccato e contemplativo. Licitra si pone come uno spettatore attento delle realtà che lo circondano, privilegiando uno sguardo che va oltre le apparenze per cogliere l’essenza delle cose. L’utilizzo dell’analogico da parte di Licitra non è solo una scelta tecnica, ma rappresenta anche una dichiarazione di intenti. In un’epoca dominata dalla velocità e dall’effimero delle immagini digitali, il fotografo siciliano opta per un ritmo più lento e contemplativo, che permette di approfondire le tematiche trattate e di trasmettere un senso di nostalgia e malinconia tipico dei non luoghi.

nanni licitra
nanni licitra

Courtesy Nanni Licitra

Nanni Licitra’s non-places
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MIA Photo Fair, What We Liked Most

MIA Photo Fair, What We Liked Most

Giorgia Massari · 2 days ago · Photography

The preview of the eighth edition of MIA Photo Fair, the photography fair that returns to Milan every year with a selection of international artists, was held yesterday, April 10. This year it is no longer in the usual Superstudio Maxi, but moves next to the star of the week, Miart. So that, potentially, in one day the bravest can see two fairs by getting off at the Portello metro stop. Miart at gate 5 of Allianz MiCo while MIA Photo at gate 16. Getting to the point, let’s talk about what we liked. As is always the case, following the trade fair system, many of the exhibits are seen and seen again, but still enjoyable to review such as shots by established photographers of the caliber of Giovanni Gastel and Ugo Mulas, or even photojournalists Fausto Giaccone and Carlo Orsi. But, among the many evergreens we have unearthed a few new ones, perhaps a few names we have already heard, but not so much in our opinion. Therefore, we made a selection of our favorite booths.

#1 Maria Svarbova – ARTITLEDcontemporary (B022)

mia photo fair

#2 Irina Werning – OTM Gallery (B023)

mia photo fair

#3 Karla Hiraldo Voleau – Christophe Guye Galerie (B019)

mia photo fair

#4 Laetitia Ky – LIS10 Gallery (E014)

mia photo fair

#5 Giulia Frump – Young Art Hunters (F018)

#6 Paolo Ventura – MarcoRossi ArteContemporanea (A022)

mia photo fair

#7 Daniele Ratti – VisionQuest 4Rosso (C018)

mia photo fair

#8 Najla Said – Mashrabia Gallery (F005)

mia photo fair

#9 Angelo Formato – Welcome to my known collective exhibition

mia photo fair

#10 Thorsten Brinkmann – Galleria Fumagalli (A019)

mia photo fair

MIA Photo Fair will remain open until Sunday, April 14.

MIA Photo Fair, What We Liked Most
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MIA Photo Fair, What We Liked Most
MIA Photo Fair, What We Liked Most
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