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    Etro’s Marco De Vincenzo on his latest collection

    With his latest Etro collection, Vincezo takes us on an unexpected journey

    Designer Marco De Vincenzo is distracted. He admits that he even thought about postponing his trip to Dubai for a day or two, just because he knew he would be a bit preoccupied. But what, pray tell, could have De Vincenzo so hot and bothered? “It’s the Sanremo Music Festival tonight. It’s huge in Italy and it’s been going on for over 50 years,” the designer admits with a sheepish smile. 

    As if to prove just how devoted he and the rest of his team are to the iconic Italian song festival, Carlo Mengucci, Etro’s charming marketing and communications director, who is sitting with us lifts up his sweater to reveal the Sanremo Music Festival concert t-shirt he is wearing in honour of the big day.

    But their excitement goes a bit beyond just national pride. De Vincenzo has also created a series of looks for the white-hot singer Angelina Mango who, like all the other performers competing at Sanremo, would debut an original song during the live event. Mango is the daughter of Italian music royalty Laura Velente (aka Laura Bortolotti) and Giuseppe Mango (better known to his fans as Mango), so a lot was riding on – and expected of – her performance. 

    For the big event, De Vincenzo came up with outfits that had a youthful, rebellious energy to them that he offset with noble fabric and boldly patterned embellishments, perfectly in keeping with the Etro ethos. The clever collaboration was a deft way to introduce the house, and his tenure there, to a whole new generation. And it certainly helped that Mango would end up taking the top prize, wearing a black and emerald green Etro ensemble as she held the palm-tree-shaped trophy high in the air.

    This is just the latest example of how De Vincenzo has been expertly crafting a new narrative for Etro. Wherever he finds interesting and unexpected ties to the brand’s paisley-infused, print-obsessed heritage, he wrestles it to the ground to connect it to a broader, younger clientele without alienating the house’s devoted fanbase. His Spring/Summer 24 show in particular explored this idea in an inventive way by taking the many references he had for the collection completely out of context so that viewers could see hints of different starting-point elements, without ever really being able to pin them down. “That is why I called the collection Nowhere,” affirms De Vincenzo. “Because I take inspiration from everywhere when I create, but nothing is really recognisable, and the touchpoints are blending and cross-pollinating in ways that end up creating clothing that have a strong vitality and positivity, without being confined by a clear and direct reference.”

    As an extension of this blurred-lines sartorial approach, De Vincenzo decided that it made sense for the collection’s campaign also to be otherworldly. So he teamed up with talented digital artist and prompt designer Silvia Badalotti to create an entirely AI-generated advertising campaign. The results are both whimsical and dramatic. They have an ethereal poetry about them that instantly captivates the eye, with conjured-up flora and fauna surrounding some of the key Etro looks and accessories of the season. 

    De Vincenzo concedes that before he began to collaborate with Badalotti he thought the world of AI was cold and calculated, that there was no humanity or artistry involved in the creation of the final product. Now he openly admits that he had it all wrong. “Silvia and I would meet every couple of weeks and talk about the words and phrases we wanted to use to create these fictional atmospheres and landscapes. Every time we would get together, we would hone the message we wanted to convey in reaction to the images that the computer would generate in response to the props we would give it,” he shares.

    Apparently, sometimes during the process, the images would show up more menacing or too saccharine-sweet than what they wanted, so the duo continued to fine-tune the designs. “And then there were times, like the addition of the stars you see in the blue sky of one of the final images – that was something the computer came up with on its own. It was all interpretation and collaboration. So it ended up being a very artistic experience,” says the designer, with just a tinge of awe in his voice. 

    Exploring uncharted artistic territory has always been something De Vincenzo has enjoyed doing. A creative envelope pusher, he is taking Etro with him on a voyage of discovery where the real winners are the clients who get to don his inventive, original and feminine designs. It looks as if even the known universe isn’t enough for Etro.

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