MILAN — It’s time for the second act in the professional journey of designers Luca Lin and Galib Gassanoff.
The Act N.1 founders mutually decided to part ways after seven years of working hand-in-hand to establish and grow their fashion brand, which gained particular momentum over the past year.
Lin has taken the solo lead of the Milan-based label, while Gassanoff exited to pursue a career in fashion and arts, said the company.
“It has been a fantastic seven-year journey of creating, learning and experimenting. I had the opportunity to meet and work with incredible people, we brought Act N.1 to the heights we dreamt of and it will continue to rise under the direction of my dear friend Luca,” said Gassanoff, additionally thanking the whole team behind the company and “everyone who has supported our work throughout the years.”
“I thank Galib for the contribution he has made to the brand over the past seven years, where we have shared incredible moments of personal and professional growth. The path we have taken together will remain exceptional and unique,” echoed Lin, who’s known Gassanoff for a decade.
In an interview with WWD, Lin added that after so many years “it’s normal to take different ways in order to focus and pursue other projects.”
The designer revealed the duo made the decision last June but eventually bought time “to finish some projects that were already under way,” such as the spring 2023 collection.
Lin also confirmed that the fall 2023 lineup to be unveiled on Feb. 24 during Milan Fashion Week is the first developed under his creative direction alone. “Going solo surely represented an additional challenge but I’m also enthusiastic of this new journey,” said the designer, sounding motivated about showing new facets of the label through his collections.
Keeping details of the new fashion chapter expected to be seen on the runway under wraps, Lin still ensured that “all the values of the brand will stay intact.”
Longtime friends and business partners, Lin and Gassanoff established Act N.1 in 2016 with the goal to express their vision of multiculturalism, since their collections mixed stylistic influences hailing from their own origins — Lin is half Chinese and Gassanoff was born in Azerbaijan but grew up in the country of Georgia.
Asked about what will happen to this approach, Lin ensured “this multicultural view will remain. It might surface more in my own personal way, but to be honest I’ve always been surrounded by people from different countries and cultures so it will take cues from them, too.”
Freedom and self-expression will also stay at the core of the message Act N.1 aims to spread. Through the years, the brand has investigated different social themes in its lineups, from raising awareness of women’s rights to spotlighting minorities and subcultures. Lin said he’s committed on further building and enhancing these aspects not just through his designs but also “more concretely” via dedicated initiatives.
So far, Lin and Gassanoff’s experimental approach to fashion has frequently resulted in hybrid styles that patch different pieces in one, a juxtaposition of masculine and feminine elements and a flair for deconstructed silhouettes, in addition to the theatrical, couture-like pieces their work has been mostly associated with. Mainly crafted from tulle, these dramatic and maximalist creations never failed to elicit a “wow” reaction during their fashion shows and have helped Act N.1 garner the attention of press and buyers alike in the last few seasons.
Maison Valentino played a big part in further amplifying this buzz by lending the young designers its Instagram account for a livestream of their show during Milan Fashion Week in September, therefore encouraging the Roman fashion house’s more than 17 million followers to discover the brand.
In addition to even more credibility, the endorsement contributed to ramping up the label’s international appeal and reputation, including with celebrities, as appearances of Act N.1 creations mushroomed on the red carpet and social media over the past year. These included custom-made numbers designed for the likes of Beyoncé and Lizzo, in addition to placements on Sharon Stone, Rita Ora and Keke Palmer, to name a few.
Camera della Moda has been supporting Act N.1 for some time, as well. Debuting at Milan Fashion Week in 2018 with the spring 2019 collection, Act N.1 has been part of the city’s schedule ever since, presenting collections both via physical runway shows and conceptual digital formats during the pandemic.
The brand was among the three recipients of the 2022 grant by Camera Moda Fashion Trust, the nonprofit organization established in 2017 to support young Italian talents in developing their businesses with financial aid, as well as business mentoring programs and tutoring. In particular, Act N.1 secured the grant for the second time in a row, having successfully channeled previous funds toward growing the brand’s scope by introducing a menswear line, setting up its own e-commerce and expanding distribution.
The label is currently carried at international stockists including Bergdorf Goodman, H Lorenzo, IT Group, Beymen, Kadewe and Harvey Nichols, among others.