Colourful, arty, flamboyant and idiosyncratic: amazing all-over prints leap off the runway. Black is the ultimate canvas for such artistic statements: it allows colours and patterns to come alive.
The Italian designer Maria Manzini creates many of the prints for Summum Woman, which presents a massive challenge every season. How does she do it?
Where did you learn this craft?
‘I’m afraid my training had nothing to do with textiles or anything artistic. I studied languages and financial management but gave it up in my third year and went to work for a textile company. I started there in the back office and eventually became a sales manager. I was spending more and more time doing private research for the main clients and so in the end I started my own company, Selecta Como. Now I avoid being involved in sales as much as possible so that I can concentrate entirely on the product.’
You specialise in fabrics for the upper segment of women’s fashion and you’re known for the rich, seductive style of your designs. Where do you get your inspiration?
‘Absolutely everything inspires me, I can’t name a specific source, it’s a continual evolution of ideas and sensations. The world is constantly changing and so are our feelings. Inspiration can come from anything: a flower, leaves changing colour, modern art, films, the look of a female artist, the theatre, some innovative idea from a contemporary art exhibition, or my daughter’s passions. Of course I also keep an eye on the runways for new shapes and fabrics, not to mention the phenomenon of street style, because those guys are the real influencers. They help me to make the right choices for an up-to-date collection.’
You’ve been working for Summum Woman for a long time. Tell us about it…
“Summum is a special client whose development we watch very closely. Summum interprets trends in both a quirky and tasteful way and that sets it apart from mainstream fashion labels. It is not an easy task to translate that particular allure into a collection of prints. I feel genuinely honoured when my fabric designs seem to dovetail with the theme of the Summum collection concerned. When that doesn’t happen, I always feel deeply disappointed and then I have to go back to the drawing table. The collaboration is a challenge every time.’
What are the main trends in fabric design and prints at the moment?
‘In the past two years we’ve seen the return of lots of manual techniques – in pigments, the use of lime for embossing and gold and iridescent applique – which makes the processes very expensive and gives the fabrics an extremely rich look. Unfortunately, this trend doesn’t meet the very clear market demand for cheap fabrics so it mainly affects haute couture and more expensive ready-to-wear. In this high-end segment, we can do really innovative work and experiment and create without limitations. So the trick is to find intelligent, creative compromises to achieve that same rich look for clients like Summum. I always want to be as up-to-date as possible with my proposals, without pricing myself out of the market.’
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The separates are classic and simple enough in shape, making a perfect canvas for duotone designs. Forget a uniform colour: a monochrome print is totally now, whether on a loose-fit dress or a matching top and trousers. We go all the way: powerful, classy and stylish.