Caleido interviews Luca Larenza, fashion designer and founder of the homonymous fashion brand. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here / Watch the Instagram live interview here
Diary of: @lucalarenza
1. Your collections are very particular, I find fascinating the concept of history and tradition that you always try to tell. How do you manage to combine the past with the future? Do you think also that is always necessary to find a balance between these two elements?
It depends a lot on the identity of the project or the brand. I come from Campania [southern Italy], and I unintentionally “feel” a lot of this influence. Mine is a land of deep traditions and when I create my collections I realise that I am very influenced by this echo of the past. However, fashion is something personal and each of us expresses it according to our own freedom. Personally, I see myself so much in wearable fashion, which can be traced back to the use of colour, and also thanks to my past as a street-artist I have tried over time to build codes and canons that are now recognizable and with which it is easy to identify my brand.
2. Unlike the world of design, the world of fashion has always paid attention to the heritage and DNA of the brand, and this has been passed down through the various designers who have followed one another over time. Now things are changing a lot. Do you think this new trend is just a cue or should heritage prevail?
Personally, the first thing I do when I start a project is look the brand’s archive, because the story is still important to me, regardless of the fact that it is interpreted with its own codes. Inevitably, since I have my own brand, I already know what I am going to bring to that project. The great thing, in my opinion, is to balance the identity of the designer with the heritage of the fashion house in which you intervene, with deep respect.
3. Ours is a country rich in local excellence, a record that few other countries in the world can boast. How does the genius loci of Neapolitan menswear influence your productions?
Italy is a unique Country in this respect and every part of it has something different to offer us. Part of my production is located in the Neapolitan area. Compared to other brands, mine is a small company, so I have a lot of freedom in choosing where to produce. Today I produce in Naples, but tomorrow, who knows? That’s the great thing about being a small brand: you’re independent, agile and that’s something that helps you a lot right now.
4. Do you think that in Italy there is an interest on the part of producers in creatively supporting a young designer who comes into this world? Do you have any experience that you have lived and that you would like to share with us?
In 2015 I got my first licence thanks to a cashmere entrepreneur who supported me in the whole process of production, distribution and communication of my brand. He is someone with whom I have remained on very good terms and whom I thank very much. I’ve been very lucky, but I think I’m also a “prize cow”. In France, from the point of view of collaborations and “entrepreneurial adventures”, they are more advanced than us, they experiment more than in Italy. So I would say that there is a lot of room for improvement on this front, and I would add that perhaps we should start to look a little beyond our personal reality and open up to collaborations.
5. There is a lot of talk these days about the value of cultural manufacturing, and in Italy we have a lot of realities that originate from a cultural context and then give back to society products that carry part of this value. I find that the same thing happens with your brand. I wonder, how do you manage to face the digital challenge and convey this value through digital?
I am experiencing all this in the knowledge that it is a temporary, transitory moment. The tactile experience cannot be replicated in any way in the digital dimension. The fabric has to be touched. What I am doing is giving great importance to photo and video content, and I find that at this time there must be even more attention to creating content that is in line with the quality and excellence of the product being worked on. In my case, I decided to create presentations outside the box and also outside the fashion calendar. I decided to take my own time and space to present my work independently. I’ll be honest: I was a bit tired of the time and speed of the fashion calendar, so I decided to present my collections either before or after the calendar we are all used to. It won’t always be like that, I’ll do it as long as I feel like it.
6. I am very attracted to your world, I would like to know all the facets and secrets behind it. I’m curious to know, do you have a creative routine that helps you produce?
Yes, absolutely. When it comes to fabric collections, there are deadlines that I have to respect and stick to. When I work on totally creative projects, I let myself be carried away by a continuous flow of inspiration that has little to do with a predetermined time. In my case, I like to take a lot of notes and save ideas that I see on social media throughout the year, waiting to retrieve them when I have to create something new. My creative routine is a mix between old ways of working and digital, between dream and reality. But almost always, after dreaming, I come back with my feet firmly planted on the floor because my prerequisite is to make something that is really wearable.
7. In this particular period when travel is an essential source of inspiration for many of us, we found ourselves having to find other sources of inspiration. Are there any thoughts that have accompanied you during these months and that have become starting points for your collections? Have you discovered any new passions?
The first few weeks were very hard and difficult, because I used to travel for work and for passion. Then, one day, I woke up, rolled up my sleeves and got back to work. I took advantage of the lockdown to buy a lot of vintage menswear magazines online, both new and second-hand. However, I’ve been very lucky because the production of my brand has never stopped and this has allowed me to keep my mind busy. New passions? I’ve tried sports, but all my attempts failed. Then I rediscovered my passion for ceramics. The world of colour came knocking at my door again, making me relax and enjoy myself.
8. If you were to try your hand at product design, what is the object you would design?
Interesting question. I’m certainly very attracted to anything related to the world of graphics and colour. Given my passion for interior design, I would say a line of cushions and maybe even pouffes. I won’t hide the fact that one day I’d really like to do that.
9. Every time I look at an image of your brand I am always captivated by the locations you choose. What value do they have for you?
The location for me is a fundamental part of a shoot, as it contributes crucially to the storytelling. I am very attracted to the world of architecture. It’s a passion that has been passed down in my family from generation to generation, and I thank my aunt for passing it on to me in such a deep way.
10. One last question that I am particularly keen on. Made in Italy is studded with founding fathers who have made the history of international fashion. As a second-generation creative, how are you tackling the new challenges?
I must be honest, the secret for me was that I learned to focus on myself. I realised that trying to be competitive and seeing other people’s work made me lose focus on my own ultimate goals. That is why my real challenge, which I also extend to the MM Award contestants, is to focus all your energy on yourself to transmit everyone what I see as beautiful.