Trieste is a fine place for a young designer to catch their breath after the rollercoaster that they put themselves on when applying-and getting nominated-for the ITS Awards in Italy. The small city is isolated from the hubbub of Milan, so it allows a very intimate look at the conceptual collections. This is the 13th anniversary of the contest, one of the larger and more buzzworthy young talent searches in the world and 13 designers are vying for the top spot.
I opened my balcony window to the ocean and a breeze blew in that couldn’t have been a more perfect temperature. A short walk along the water I was taken to one of the most incredible rooms I have ever seen; the ITS Archives. Like something out of a fairytale, it sits on the top floor with mostly sunlight from glass windows in the roof to light it up. Dresses are packed in, the next more incredible than the last. Mannequins are dressed like aliens going to a princess’ ball. Every winner’s collection since ITS 5 is here with nominees also sending in their looks as a courtesy. What does ITS do with them except have them to boast the most creative archive in the world? Actually, everything is catalogued by taste and skill and kept in portfolios with a digital barcode system. When a fashion brand is looking for a new designer to join the team, ITS is able to provide them a perfect match; everyone is happy. It’s an incredible system!
After lunch on the famous and beautiful square Piazza Unità d’Italia, all the amazing judges gathered in a small room to see a presentation and hear from each of the 13 finalists about their collections. There were three Japanese designers, and it’s my job to show other young designers that they too, then, can be standing on the world stage. After all, Mark Fast was a ITS winner and he’s a superstar now.
Momoko Okusa was inspired by the Mexican lucha libre wrestlers. She said that she is the middle child of two brothers and that for her, life is always a fight. Her menswear collection had the judges the most interested and taking snaps. They looked like monster/frankenstein/jack the green giant hybrids.
ランチのあとは名の知れた美しいスクエア、Piazza Unità d’Italiaで。全ての素晴らしい作品の審査は、
Like Momoko, Tomohiro Sato is a student of the fringe Coconogacco fashion school in Tokyo. For his conceptual collection, he said he recalled looking at his grandfather on his deathbead in the hospital. “He wasn’t treated right, I didn’t like it. So I wanted to take his soul to somewhere nice before he passed into the afterlife. Here, I imagined a themepark to play at.” There were snippets of oldschool japan like in edo-period silhouettes and Japanese accents.
Takahiro Ueno studies in Vienna and his collection was a wet dream of East-meets-West. It starts with traditional Japanese book binding that inspired his silhouettes, and then he mixed traditional European jacquard with used T-shirts he found at the fleamarket for the fabric. Finally, he used old rennaisannce-style womens hair of braids decorated with jewelry for his accessories and accents. There was a lot to digest but it made a huge impact.
Even though the odds are in favor for one of the Japanese students, last year, the winner was japanese too; Ichiro Suzuki. So if this is a political contest there’s no way another Japanese student will win. If it’s NOT political then perhaps Japan will still be represented. After all, there were two more collections inspired by Japan: samurai and yakuza tattoos as leather skill (below). It’s a total mystery as to who will get it, but for sure newly appointed Diesel creative director Nicola Formichetti will have a huge say in it. Bad news is he seemed bored for most of it, but the good news is there were a few collections he seemed genuinely interested in so it’s possible those will get it. Will have to see tomorrow!