In the biography for Florentine-born designer Federico Curradi, his extensive experience at the helm of Ermanno Scervino, as head of menswear for Roberto Cavalli. as creative director for menswear at Iceberg and various consultancy jobs including one at Dunhill are collectively described as his “unique baggage of experiences”. I love to think of life as a journey and nowhere in Florence this year — where I find myself for the Pitti UomoSpring/Summer 2018 collections — was that concept more apparent than in Curradi’s line.
Curradi himself is a grown flower child of possibilities, a true earthy man who finds inspiration in his native Florence and classical art and blends effortless elegance with a sense of courage and strength. His man — embodied by his angelic rockstars models on the runway, shown so close to us standing on each side of the runway inside the Museo Bardini setting as they passed us, sneakers hanging from their hands instead of on their feet, dressed in what can only be described as cool-wear — was the closest thing to a dream while I’m awake sensation I’ve experienced in fashion. Ever.
The Federico Curradi Pitti Italics presentation included a couple of beautiful jackets made in a pattern clearly inspired by traditional handmade Florentine paper, easy fitting black and white checkered shirts with frayed, worn-looking edges peeking out under distressed sweaters that looked like they had been mended, shorts and long pants in crisp easy cotton, cool separates paired as suits and kimono style short shirts in marbled shades of pastel watercolors. All worn with straps hanging, the hands of the models wrapped as they would be for a match of the Florentine “Calcio Storico” a sporting event similar to rugby that Curradi cited as inspiration for this line, while they walked barefoot.
Interviewing the designer after the show was a wonderful experience too. Soft-spoken, yet expressing powerful ideas and wearing his own brand of style, he represents the perfect model for Federico Curradi, like the designer as his muse. Easily explaining his influences in English, while also sprinkling in some Italian words, and clearly aiming for a fully sustainable brand, Curradi’s fashion is only part of the bigger picture of cool that the man himself clearly represents.
You’ve made this collection very iconically Florentine, from some of your fabrics which are inspired by Florentine handmade paper…
Federico Curradi: I stole the paper motif from a shop and made a print of it! That’s the real story.
So you’ve chosen to pay homage to Florence?
Curradi: Florence is my city, and the idea of the collection is from a story, a normal Florentine story. The idea is to think about a young guy who works in an art shop and probably, he’s restructuring that art shop, so hard work. Sure if you do that kind of work you need to have a big patient heart and at the same time he plays the very traditional game here of ‘Calcio Storico’ the historical soccer— it’s a really rude and masculine sport. But it represents the face of this city, super romantic in a way but the people are tough.
To me, the choice of models you booked, how they walked out without shoes, holding them in their hands, more than tough, they felt stoic. What was the barefoot choice about?
Curradi: It was also from the historical soccer, you know when they finish, the shoes they played in in Piazza Santa Croce, they come off… I really love to get references from modern art and classical art, this time I got the colors from [Giovanni] Fattori, and I love how he mixed the colors together and I love his paintings, he loved to paint nature and landscapes. I live in the countryside and I get a lot of inspiration from sunsets.
Do you think that’s our secret, we need to get back to nature?
Curradi: It’s not just that we need, I think people must! I think it’s really important, the world is not just about cities.
Who is your ideal customer, he’s not just a Florentine man right?
Curradi: No, I am more connected with shops out of Italy than in Italy, the Japanese and Korean really love and appreciate the beautiful materials and they love the kinds of colors I work with and the connection with art. It’s a man who really understands a different way of luxury who is my ideal customer. For all my materials I do a really big research, special linens, beautiful cotton. The customer is somebody who really can appreciate that kind of stuff and doesn’t want to be a cliche, rather be himself. That’s him.
Everything is really manual, worn, artisanal looking...
Curradi: Yes because that’s Florence, I try to do as much artisanal as possible because I wanted to pay tribute to my city. Florence is a really handmade kind of city.
You use as your tagline “feed the good wolf.” Who is the good wolf?
Curradi: All the collection is made mostly with eco friendly materials and all the factories I use, I choose them because they are certified as eco friendly. That’s why I say “feed the good wolf,” I don’t use fur, or anything like that. I think it’s really important to be a sustainable brand now.
So is that your way of changing the world, through fashion?
Curradi: I think everybody can change the world, with a little thing every day. If you just close the tap while you brush your teeth, you are changing the world in a way. Respect what we have around us, try to as much as possible.