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Russia: The New Inspiration for Italian Fashion Designers

New Collection by AFG 1972 “Made in Empoli-for life in Russia”
New Collection by AFG 1972 “Made in Empoli-for life in Russia”

Europe…what do we imagine when we imagine it? Along with a sort of “western-ness” and spirit of freedom, we envision glamor and fashion.  

For centuries the world’s fashion designers have looked on Italy for inspiration - the land of fashion- in a search of creative concepts. Meanwhile, for Russian fashion makers, photo shoots and showing off new collections amid the beautiful landscapes of blessed Italy has literary become a ritual.

Today however, Italian designers are coming to Russia, as they see its amazing nature a perfect match for presenting their new collections. Among these designers, Piero Fontanelli, with his new photo project «Made in Empoli» embodies a new collection for Fall-Winter by well-known Italian brand AFG 1972.  The financial manager of AFG, Fontanelli dressed the Russian Olympic team for the Sochi-2014. It was he who showed true Russian dandies how easily the clothes from sunny Italy could fit into severe Russian weather scenes.

From the collection Made in Empoli-for life in Russia
New Collection by AFG 1972 “Made in Empoli-for life in Russia”

This trend toward Russian landscapes begs the question; “what makes Russian landscapes better than valleys of Toscana?” Furthermore, “why would the Italians, the kings of world’s fashion, find Russia a perfect place for their fashion-projects?” Maybe the answer lies in the economic climate?

Our Russia asked Eugenia Berger, a producer of the project and the PR-director of one of the Moscow’s fashion agencies, for some answers.

Eugenia Berger, producer of the project “Made in Empoli- for life in Russia”, Moscow. Photo by: Natalia Volkonskaya
Eugenia Berger, producer of the project “Made in Empoli- for life in Russia”, Moscow. Photo by: Natalia Volkonskaya

Eugenia Berger: Certainly, it is not the economic factor. The tradition of family business in Europe is the formula of business success and is one of the key elements that draws a customer’s attention. The Russian fashion industry is overloaded with short-lived companies and mass market. This is why brands with rich history and traditions are gaining more popularity today as they are seen as a warranty for quality of the product.

And as for a new trend, our team have recently been working with a number of similar fashion-projects for our European partners. I would say it is even more than simply is a trend. It is a new epoch in the fashion industry.

I personally believe this is the very accurate approach, it is a special attitude and respect for a client in a country where the brand is presented. I think world-oriented manufacturers shall expand their fashion geography... As for us, showing the life of the Italian clothes in real Russia or in any other country means the right focus of designers. We help them to integrate two cultures, to adapt their art to conditions of a different place. As for customers, it is a perfect way to let them visualize ready-made looks and visually try them on. While a customer sees a certain model not in a shop window but in the real life we see it as improvement of our customer service. And this is exactly what a “spoiled” client needs today. The true reason of such cooperation is not just a beautiful picture- a model look, but is a description of life style of models. It is the idea that is being developed for each single project, based on demands of the audience from the partner country (in our case it is Russia), on the history of manufacturing itself, emotions of designers and the spirit of the motherland of fashion products.

Well, this sounds quite convincing, although there are surely some other reason why Italians have shown such a deep interest in Russia. This country, where fashion has never been the key industry, seems a bit surreal within the context of Italian fashionstas visiting for photo ops. Hopefully Russian landscapes are inspiring, as well. Perhaps, this idea will bring a bit of the Florence sun and the warming spirit of Empoli to our Russian souls during winter days. At least the notion is a hopeful one.

Our story here cannot be complete  without Piero Fontanelli’s take! Though I am for the time trapped in the frosty climate here, I could not resist calling for what became a delightful dialogue with this fashion maestro on the phone. Mr. Fontanelli also helped enlighten me. 

Piero Fontanelli
Piero Fontanelli, financial manager of AFG 1972, Empoli, Italy. Photo by: Natalia Volkonskaya

Piero Fontanelli: AFG- is the spirit of freedom. It is a certain style that can be easily recognized. To purchase our product means to purchase something that will always be in trend because it lies ahead of fashion. Details could be changed, but the base will remain the same. Because the base is the classics.

AFG models could be easily worn both in town and in the country area. Personally tested. For example as a horse rider I always wear a short sport jacket by AFG while when I visit a ballet performance I chose an elegant leather jacket. Should I travel to Cortnal d’Ampezzo ski resort- nothing could be better as a light but warm fur jacket. I must admit I always feel some thrill and excitement when I see people wearing our brand. I always recognize our models even if they had been produces years ago. It is an amazing feeling! Presented in Russia- the country of AFG fans- our  project “Made in Empoli” is an attempt to show this very spirit of freedom and eternal fashion.

This changing fashion industry has yet again astonished the world. Instead of waiting for Russian shopaholics to dash to Italy, Her Majesty Italian Fashion has made a visit to Russia. Let the fashion journey begin!

Olga Malik for Our Russia