Sara Lanzi has been quietly working on her eponymous label since 2005, but it looks as if she’s on the cusp of making the fashion big-time. Thanks to her mentor, the hugely influential Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, the Italian designer has been given a dedicated space at Dover Street Market – a prestigious retail spot for any brand, let alone one that’s still an emerging name.
Her collections imbue modern femininity, often with voluminous silhouettes and ruffle detailing. Her latest collection features a mix of spring-ready tailoring, jumpsuits and outerwear (a billowing, tiered coat feels very Comme des Garcons), but, nonetheless, it’s her dresses that have true widespread appeal. They all have a whimsical edge, while maintaining a sense of easy simplicity.
It’s precisely this balance that Lanzi says is key to her work.
“The collections must have contrast, however subtle or discreet,” she told us. “Femininity and masculinity; rigour and lightness; poetry and strength are the topics that I tackle in every collection. I try to maintain the spontaneity of my vision, reducing instead of adding. Basically, I think simplicity is a constant in my work – maybe in the end I’m pretty classic.”
Lanzi is self-taught. She didn’t plan on being a designer; in fact, she studied art history at university. She eventually went on to work for the defunct avant-garde Italian brand, Carpe Diem, which inspired her to launch her own venture. The label’s elegant aesthetic is deeply personal to her, which is why Lanzi is her own fit model.
“I am aware of the risk of being self-referential,” she says of the decision to be the in-house model. “But it helps me better understand what I am offering. I would like to be able to claim to dress a cultured woman, who is aware of her own nature and personality. In reality I don’t know my customers; I can only think that, choosing my clothes, we share a certain point of view.”
She is grateful to Kawakubo, who she first met in 2007 when the designer visited her studio for buying purposes, for being her “greatest supporter”. While also having helped Lanzi find international stockists, perhaps one of the most enduring gifts that Kawakubo has given Lanzi is a simple message.
“What I have learnt very clearly from her is the strength that comes from staying true to oneself,” she says.
With advice like that, Lanzi can’t go far wrong.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK