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Friday, May 15, 2009

Happening Again, Constantly: Interview with Maurizio Celin of Nicole

While in Milan recently, Lori spent a day shopping with Maurizio Celin, designer for Nicole, and quizzed him on the trends of the times and how it shows up in his work. Maurizio's replies – a reflection on global forces shaping trends, yet a recognition of the influence of location and the individual – gave us some insight as to how the collections we love come into being.

Lori Andre: Milan is a city known worldwide for fashion. What are the key trends that you observe when shopping in Milan?
Maurizio Celin: Milan is just one of many cities that you visit to understand what are the "Best Trends" internationally. You can look at what they have in the shops, but it is better to observe what people wear on the street. It is also very important to have a friend who lives in that city who can tell you what’s happening again, constantly. The key trends that I see – not only in Milan but especially in the provinces of Italy – are the people. What are people wearing? And how are they wearing it?

LA: How do you integrate these trends into your designs for the American market?
MC: Since the Internet, we talk about Global Fashion. Perhaps a trend begins in Europe then arrives in the U.S., but just as often the trend starts in America and arrives in Europe. Look at the Loubotin or Blahnik phenomenon: in Europe no one knew them for years even though they had a small market in France and England; with the success of "Sex and the City" every Italian knows them.

For the past few seasons is not even correct to talk about trends since there is total freedom of taste! We can speak of "megatrends" that explode, like the trend of "Western boots." In Italy this has always existed. Italian women, with a little more fashion (and not always in good taste), led while the U.S. had always viewed this style poorly because it reminds American woman of "farm girl.” Now in America it is a trend while we just carry it over season to season.

In the U.S. market there are substantial differences in the quality of the product. Leather soles for you can be a problem; for us is synonymous with quality. Synthetic lining for you is not a problem; our women do not ever wear a shoe with synthetic lining.

LA: How would you compare the different tastes between American women and Italian women?
MC: There is a significant difference between men and women of the North and the South. This is true whether European or American or Asian. Even in Italy Milanese women are different from the women of Rome.

Women in Milan, as the women of N.Y., are more simple. They like classic colors, a little showy jewelry, fashion shoes (but not trendy), the hair is never too long and makeup is more natural. The Romans are more prominent: strong colors, jewelry and large showy, stronger makeup and always tanned, so much blonde hair like your Californian women.

In short, around the world women in the North are more “cool” and women of the South are more “go to town.”

LA: How important is the color and materials in your design?
MC: Materials and colors are KEY to my work. You can use the same construction for several seasons and give them a new life just by changing materials and colors. This is the part of my job that I am most passionate about. The finish of the materials is extremely important. We at Nicole want to give the consumer a good experience and I can proudly say that is one of our strengths.

How to say ... a beautiful shoe in a bad material and color is like a beautiful woman with bad makeup and her hair in disorder.

LA: As a male designer do you sometimes find it challenging to design for women?
MC: These days there are many women designers who are pretty brave ... but needless to say that the best designers in the world are men (usually gay). To give the best of himself in a creative work a man has always needed a woman with a strong personality by his side. Who better than a man to understand the desires of a woman? It’s often said that men can create beautiful things for women because they create objects they would wear but cannot! :-)))))

LA: What designers are an inspiration for you?
MC: MAUD FRIZON. Beautiful woman in the '80s, made beautiful shoes and iperfemminili. A unique and inimitable woman designer.

TOKIO KUMAGAI. Japanese. Lived in Paris and died too soon. The most talented designer to make low heels beautiful and avant-garde.

PHILIPPE MODEL. Un'affetto particular, having got to know him. He’s not only with great shoes but also with hats. He will always and forever be a source of inspiration.

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