MILAN—Roman designer, Albino D’Amato of the upscale Albino Teodoro label follows in a legacy of Roman couturiers like the Sorelle Fontana, Valentino Garavani, and, most recently, Giambattista Valli who have captivated stars from all over the world.
Image Courtesy of PR
D'Amato has aspired to work in the couture business since the age of 13, when he realised Garavani lived in his neighborhood, at which point, he started to leave the “King of the Red Carpet” sketches in his mailbox.
But in an age where comfort trumps excess, D’Amato is striving to make easy, body embracing designs that are fit for a woman on the run. And while he takes only few made-to-measure, custom-made orders, his ready-to-wear style is reminiscent of the glamour and the quality of the Dolce Vita era, when the Fontana sisters began to attract Hollywood’s biggest stars to Caput Mundi.
With his latest Spring/Summer 2018 collection, D’Amato, who also works with Vionnet and Max Mara and has collaborated with Atelier Versace, Emanuel Ungaro, and Emilio Pucci, proves that he has a real flair for pret-a-couture.
Drapery and exquisite fabrics from top textile houses like Canepa, a Como-based silk maker that specialises in sustainable materials, are really the hallmark of D’Amato’s lineup that includes ultra-feminine, cocooning evening gowns styled with kimono cotton materials and organza, as well as smart wool and jaquard blazers adorned with sequins to show off his sartorial flair.
Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION
NOWFASHION visited the young designer in his studio in Milan to chat about the collection’s soul and how to define couture in a modern era:
SC: What was the starting point of this latest collection?
AT: The collection actually has two souls; one soul is masculine and tailoring and the other soul is really feminine and a little bit of poetry, you know with the flowers and neoclassical painting, geometric and graphic, black and white that you see here. And then, as I was telling you, the volume of the fabric.
SC: This is a very powerful photo [transparent curtains blowing out of an open window in a baroque palace on the moodboard]
AT: Yes, I like the idea of air, something fresh and breezy. I imagine you know this window of a beautiful Italian house, in Sicily or Rococo. It is also delicate and airy.
SC: We talk a lot about couture and what couture means today. You definitely have a couture flair and you’re very good at conveying that message, but what does it really mean to someone who doesn’t actually do made-to-measure?
AT: For me, couture is a term that is now very abused for everyone. I mean if you see all the press releases of the collections, everyone says 'couture couture couture.' I started my career in couture so I know what it means, and I started my career in Paris in Emanuel Ungaro. I worked for Versace Atelier, so I know what couture means.
The real couture is something that takes hundreds of hours to make and are big constructions inside. It’s very stiff, it’s made to measure on the body of the final customer. So couture to me is that, the real couture. I’m only conveying the feeling of couture because the fabrics look very luxurious, they look very rich – the volumes of the garment are big but inside there’s no construction. You can wear a different size – it’s big but it’s not made on your body, it’s made for everyone’s body. You can buy it made industrial also by hand, so you can buy at a more affordable price.
SC: You know, would you ever do couture on your own?
AT: We do couture; we do two or three pieces of couture and of course we sell those pieces by request. The customer here likes a dress but we make it special for this customer – the color she wants, the fabric we change for her and this is couture for me. She likes a style, she likes the attitude, and we make a special dress for her with the same look but on her body, so this is perfect for the couture customer.
SC: I’m noticing a lot of people with great potential and who understand what couture is are from like Valentino, like Giambattista Valli… why do you think that is?
AT: It has a lot to do with cinema – because the houses that made couture dresses also made costumes for the cinema. So the same hand, very very detailed, with a lot of embroidery, with a lot of research with regard to the fabric. So the same craftsmanship that goes into cinema goes into couture.
SC: And, you know, there’s a lot of attention right now on sustainability. Are you integrating any of those elements into your collection? I mean, eventually we’re all going to have to get there somehow…
AT: I try to focus sustainability. Our suppliers are trying to change the way they produce the fabrics to be more sustainable. Companies here are very good at using recycled materials such as cotton and silks destined for the luxury market.
SC: And where are your customers from mostly?
AT: Mostly around the world, a little bit spread all around. I actually have customers in Japan, that’s one of my best markets. The US, in Korea, and now we are growing a lot in the Middle East.
SC: What was your first encounter with fashion, can you remember?
AT: For me it was my mama’s wardrobe. When I was a child, she was really into clothing and accessories, so when she went shopping I would look in her bags and the way she dressed. Then I always loved, since I was young, the cinema, movies. I was totally into the costumery of Alta Roma.