Milan Fashion Week AW19 – an interview with Vivetta

Sentimental surrealism may be an apt term to describe the style of VIVETTA. Showcased at the Palazzo Clerici, the nostalgic aesthetic of the collection features the idea of home as the dominant source of inspiration; including a coat fashioned from patchwork pillows and a quilted-sofa-inspired puffer jacket.

In the use of colours and textures there can be seen VIVETTA’s typical feminine frivolity; yet with a plethora of unexpected details which reinforce her playful, contemporary appeal. The visual layering of the collection exposes her multifarious universe where the vintage, traditional, whimsical and modern all converge.

After a period working at Roberto Cavalli, Italian designer, Vivetta Ponti, started her eponymous brand in 2009. Citing inspiration from sources as diverse as sixties Italian horror movies to vintage children’s books, ‘these nostalgic elements are fused with hyper contemporary silhouettes and bon-ton patterns.’

Her attention to detail can be appreciated in features such as the trompe-l’oeils decorating a ‘Mary Poppins’ bag, which in fact are small kittens and teddy bears, or the ‘mirrors room jacket’ which is entirely embroidered with murano and ‘50s mirrors miniatures. One of the stand-out designs was certainly an oversized coat patchworked with a collection of teddy bears, epitomising the eclectic charm of Vivetta’s wonderland.

Your previous collections appear to be heavily influenced by nostalgic inspirations. What specific sources inspired this AW19 collection?

This AW19 Collection was inspired by aspects and elements of interior decor with a fun and irreverent interpretation.

What is the process of turning these inspirations into a completed collection?

I prepare a moodboard with all the elements of the mood, then I try to work with them to create a much more modern effect. For instance, I took elements from a tapestry (the rabbit, the falcon, some flowers) and I created a print with them. One has a black background and colours are natural as a tapestry usually is, but the other two prints have strong colours; one has a yellow background with deep blue elements and the other is the opposite. In everything I do I try to put unexpected details. When you see the collection, you are reminded of something from the past, but then you see a lot of oversized shapes, masculine fabrics and unexpectedly placed embroideries.

How do you subvert typically feminine prints and colour palettes for a more modern approach to femininity?

I work a lot with shapes. I always mix oversized shapes with slim ones, feminine with masculine. And also colours are really important. My collections always have a huge colour palette and I try to make interesting colour combinations (pale blue with yellow, pink with black & white zebra, pink and green).

There appears to be a whimsical playfulness that characterizes many of your designs. Is your approach to fashion always light-hearted?

I like colours and I like it when people smile looking at my designs

Is there a particular message you hope to convey in your AW19 collection?

It’s a really important collection for me because the tapestry that inspired it is a belonging of my father, who passed away just last year. Everything I live through is projected onto my work.

Before creating your own brand in 2009 you spent time working at Roberto Cavalli. What would you say were the key things you learnt during that period?

It was really important to me working at Roberto Cavalli because I learnt everything about embroideries and prints, although the style was very different from mine.

I had access to the huge library of the company and I did a lot of research. I also created special prints and I started working with graphics that are very important for my work.

The use of embroidery features often in your designs. What is it about this technique that appeals to you?

The first embroidery I made for Vivetta was the hand collar. It is an embroidery made directly on paper pattern. I like the embroideries to reflect part of the shapes of the clothes.

Mostly I make placed embroideries and each model has its embroidery. It’s a very personal technique, I find inspiration directly in front of the pattern and then I proceed with the drawing.

What is your favourite part of the design process?

The part that I like most is when I start drawing the collection, the second is seeing the whole collection hanging in the showroom!

What is next for Vivetta?

My plans are obviously to draw and do creative things. I don’t want great things, only to keep being this happy surrounded by wonderful and super talented people who inspire me every day and who I learn from.

All clothes Vivetta AW19. All images © Molly SJ Lowe