WHEN TIE-UPS AND THREE-YEAR-LONG CREATIVE DIRECTOR STINTS HAVE BECOME THE NORM IN FASHION, MONCLER BUCKS THE TREND BY HIRING THE JIL SANDER/PHOEBE PHILO-TRAINED VERONICA LEONI (OPPOSITE) AS THE WOMEN’S CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF ITS 2 MONCLER 1952 LINE. (ONE OF ONLY TWO RANGES UNDER THE BRAND’S MONCLER GENIUS PROJECT THAT’S NOT BY A GUEST COLLABORATOR, IT HAD BEEN DESIGNED BY THE IN-HOUSE TEAM UNTIL HER APPOINTMENT LAST YEAR.) AHEAD OF THE LAUNCH OF HER THIRD COLLECTION THIS MONTH, GORDON NG GETS AN EXCLUSIVE WITH THIS UNDERSTATED ‘INSIDER’B ON WHY A ROLE LIKE HERS REMAINS PIVOTAL.
YOU CAME ON BOARD FOLLOWING THE RELEASE OF TWO COLLECTIONS BY THE IN-HOUSE TEAM. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR APPOINTMENT SAYS ABOUT HOW MONCLER – AND FASHION – VIEW THE ROLE OF DESIGNERS TODAY?
“I believe in creative directors! Of course, the ideal conditions vary from project to project, but when we talk about luxury, I think it’s not just about designing clothes. There’s storytelling, a system of values and a subjective aesthetic that is vital to create motivation, desire and value. The goal is to establish solid and reliable relationships with our community and the dialogue should be as direct as possible.”
DOES TAKING OVER FROM THE IN-HOUSE TEAM OF SUCH AN ESTABLISHED LABEL AS OPPOSED TO A CREATIVE DIRECTOR AFFECT THE WAY YOU DESIGN?
“I try to walk on the edge during the whole process of creation, letting myself be contaminated by Moncler and actively twisting the house’s original codes into something new, possibly closer to my own original inspiration. Authenticity to both sides is the secret ingredient to the mixture. I think 1952 needed, first of all, to define its own community of women and then try to design around this particular type of femininity, reinterpreting Moncler archetypes and bringing them into a contemporary wardrobe. I firmly believe in the possibility of interpretations with freedom and no boundaries.”
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “CONTAMINATED”?
“Moncler’s business is very peculiar compared to other luxury houses. It’s mostly about the one item – the main focus in terms of innovation and what we propose is definitely the puffer jacket. The total look comes as a consequence of that so we work to define more precisely the puffer’s style and personalities. I like to decontextualise the classic puffer and use it as a sort of raw material. Once it becomes just essential, the design can go everywhere without losing its authenticity. I think that this is one of the most exciting challenges: I love when beauty starts to overlap with the utilitarian and you can’t really see the difference any more.”
NOW HOW DOES WORKING UNDER THE RADICAL MONCLER GENIUS PROJECT THAT, FOR THE MOST PART, DEPENDS ON GUEST DESIGNERS AND NOT ONE PERMANENT NAME INFLUENCE THE WAY YOU WORK?
“Freedom is at the heart of the Genius project and it was a great opportunity to be part of such a special strategy. It brought freshness to the system and a new way of living creatively, and I think it will be even more relevant in the future when flexibility and thinking out of the box will be fundamental to success. The Genius model also doesn’t work on the classic idea of a collection, which is usually quite extended in offering and seasonality. Here each collection is focused, and a very sharp eye and talent for editing are key.”
THIS SEASON’S COLLECTION IS INSPIRED BY AN IMAGINED “ARMY OF WOMEN ON A QUEST FOR A LOST PARADISE”. QUITE THE EVOCATIVE NARRATIVE!
“I wanted to represent strong women who don’t indulge in their femininity, don’t give up their freedom, and then contaminate it all in a modern and functional way. I looked at the exoticism of the beginning of the 20th century and at many of the iconic women of the time. I wanted to set for Moncler a decadent imagery that merged the utilitarian with the languid to create something empowering and elegant.”
YOU READ LITERATURE IN UNIVERSITY. DOES THAT EDUCATION INFLUENCE THE WAY YOU DESIGN?
“The duality of my creativity is totally connected to the path I took during my formative years. I’m extremely thoughtful as well as pragmatic, very theoretical yet at the same time super hands-on. I love to research and get inspiration from the world around me, digging into vintage and touching thousands of fabrics and drapings. My work is the result of multi-sensory inputs, and I love to connect all the dots and see what comes out. Curiosity at every level is fundamental to train one’s sensibility and imagination, and I try to apply that everywhere.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ROLE OF A CREATIVE DIRECTOR TODAY?
“It calls for being grounded and a visionary at the same time."
AND HOW DO YOU THINK IT IS GOING TO CHANGE FOLLOWING THE UPHEAVAL THAT THE FASHION INDUSTRY HAS FACED PARTICULARLY IN THIS YEAR?
“I deeply feel that fashion needs to find a way to stay meaningful. We need to get involved, be an instrument to support good changes and at the same time offer beauty and escape. I recently collaborated with the pro-gender equality group Girl Up on a special item for example. As a creative director, I think we are dealing always with responsibility and values. We can’t not take a position on critical matters. Gender equality is a very basic human right and if there’s a chance to be loud and carry on a message, I see no reason to step back and not put my face to it!”
For Fall/Winter 2020 – her third collection for 2 Moncler 1952 – Leoni put a feminine spin on the brand’s outdoor roots, creating coats with sensual, balloon-like silhouettes and introducing sophisticated finishes such as nylon, diamond quilting and technical fabrics with devore motifs. Still meant to be functional, pieces sport drawstrings and cords that aren’t just decorative, but also allow them to be worn multiple ways.