It’s an uncomfortably hot and humid day when I go to meet Marco De Vincenzo. One of those days that come around so rarely in Ireland, that you feel guilty for complaining about the heat. But when one imagines going to meet an Italian designer who previously headed the accessories area of Fendi, one does not imagine being in need of a cold shower. One is dressed to perfection in this scenario; with, perhaps, a small amount of perspiration delicately collected on the corners of one’s collar-bone’s; more “sea-spray” than “gym-workout”.
But, it’s not an issue. Because when I arrive ten minutes early for our interview, I’m duly informed that Marco has yet to arrive; despite the launch of his specially designed scarf for Peroni, which is taking place in less than three hours at this pop-up boutique. Which doesn’t bother me; it gives me time to revive myself with some tea and we begin the interview only ten minutes later than originally scheduled.
The pop-up boutique is still, quite literally being built underneath us as Marco and I stand for our interview; examining the rack of clothes which are in fact, his heralded spring/summer 2012, Pret a Porter collection. In the sparsely decorated room, the clothes immediately pop. But on closer inspection, they’re still as beautiful as they first appear.
“I always like to play with colour” Marco explains to me in a Sicilian accent and broken-English as I trawl through the selection before me. “I try to tell a new story about colour… even just to change, to move… I think I need to experiment because I’m too young to decide what I like.” Indeed, in terms of designers, Marco is still in puberty. He debuted his fashion designs at Paris Haute Couture week in 2009, before debuting his Pret a Porter collection in Milan of the same year. He also won the “Who Is On Next?” competition, in collaboration with Vogue Italia; yet Marco remains a fairly unknown name.
A Google search of his name brings up small, scant information on him. The most recent tit-bit is a Vogue review of the collection I’m viewing today; but more of that later. He acknowledges how hard it is for young designers, especially young Italian designers, to break in to the fashion consciousness. “I think big brands need to change with the new designers” he says. “It’s time to break with the past – it was a beautiful past, Versace etc are part of my story – but now it’s time to…” he trails off, searching for the right English translation. “Add a new chapter?” I offer. “Yes!”, he replies excitedly.
Although being born and raised in Sicily, Marco has spent over fifteen years living in Rome and his work is “always a story about Italy.” “I try to imagine a marble world, all in white” he begins and I hope that my confusion and intrigue isn’t etched across my face. “That world with colour” he adds. Ah. But when you look at his clothes, it’s an image that actually makes sense. “Every dress, for example, a dress like this (a cable-knit blue/green tones on white) was born in white and then with craftsmanship, it takes even 20 hours to make” he explains. I think he means “up to 20 hours” but his way of speaking is so utterly charming, I don’t have the heart to correct him.
“It’s a sort of couture” he adds, and it really is. The painstaking work that goes in to each piece is evident; not an easy task given that this is Pret a Porter and not a Haute Couture line. There are two pieces in particular that demonstrate the veracity of his statement: another cable-knit dress but this time, with copper metallic printed over part of the dress and a leather jacket. The jacket, in particular, has already received acclaim from Vogue and it’s not difficult to see why; despite using the same structure and material as the original incarnation, Marco’s leather jacket is for grown-up girls.
“It’s a sophisticated update”, he admits. “I always like to design simple shapes and work along the fabric so the silhouette is always simple and sophisticated”. Taking inspiration from the architecture of Rome, Marco pleated the leather on his jacket and the zip runs at an angle along the chest. “I always wanted it to be very wearable, very comfortable” he explains before adding that in this case, redesigning a much-beloved staple, he played with the connotations of a leather jacket; there is no rock vibe to this; no studding or embellishments – just good material, good design and good crafting.
It is probably in this consideration that Marco show’s more innovation than most well-known designers; he is always designing with a view to how these clothes will work in real-life, not in an orchestrated fantasy. “I don’t have a real icon” he reveals when I question the kind of shaped model he prefers. “I like to show [my work] when doing it, to friends I know in life” because it helps him “better understand what “She” is wearing and why “She’s wearing that kind of proportion in that moment. I always think about a real woman close to me – she likes to play with fashion. because I do… she’s curious about the story [of his designs]” he explains in a very relaxed way. It’s clear that this isn’t just a line he spins to the media, he really believes it. And it’s apparent that his PR team have no desire to “spin” him a certain way, given that we’re left completely alone for the interview. It seems that all sides are agreed in letting his work, speak for itself – along with Marco’s Italian phrasing and accent. And if these clothes could speak, I bet they would be singing an Italian love-song!
The Peroni pop-up boutique is situated at No 6 Castle Market Street, Dublin 2. Opening hours: Thursday June 7th, 4pm – 9pm; Friday June 8th, 3pm – 8pm; Saturday June 9th, 2pm – 7pm.
Selected items from Marco De Vincenzo’s collections are also on sale at the Design Centre, Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2.