MILAN — A long professional and personal relationship has evolved into a new joint fashion project bowing for fall 2022.
Former Valextra chief executive officer Sara Ferrero and Susanna Cucco, who held the role of artistic director at the storied Italian accessories company, are launching the Sa Su Phi collection, named after their initials and the Greek letter phi, generally used as the mathematical concept of the golden ratio — conveying the idea that it represents perfect beauty, as well as “effectiveness and ease,” said Ferrero. She also explained that, phonetically, Sa Su Phi sounds like ça suffit, or “it’s enough” in French.
The goal is to offer a collection that is enough in itself, “less but better, simple but daring, and timeless, and that can be worn all day long, whatever the occasion,” said Ferrero, touting its versatility, as the clothes “adapt to the personality and needs of the wearer.”
At the brand’s newly established showroom in central Milan, Ferrero and Cucco, in their first interview to present the project, embodied their target customer, wearing pieces from the collection that reflect their own taste and style, fine-tuned over the years.
“This is very personal project, it’s a collection that stems from our own shared vision and aesthetic,” explained Ferrero, who exited Valextra in 2021 after six years. She was previously CEO at Joseph and, prior to that, held the same role at Furla.
“We never said let’s be the new fashion designers,” Cucco offered. “We want to present a collection designed by women for women based on what we ourselves want to wear, responding to what we believe are the needs of women today, while emphasizing self-expression.”
The collection, which will be presented during Milan Fashion Week later this month, is knitwear-centric — a selection of cardigans, short capes, crew neck or turtleneck pullovers with sophisticated braided details — and outerwear driven, with double-breasted or belted long coats.
It is marked by key stand-alone pieces, subtle graphic textures, and purist and architectural shapes — architecture being a longtime passion of both women. A study on volumes hinges on “a balance of full and void,” through side slits, for example, which are not purely decorative, allowing the designer to play with layering and styling. Men’s shirts in revisited proportions and shirtdresses are also key to the looks, with an ‘80s and ‘90s inspiration.
The volumes are slightly oversize, and the color palette ranges from gray, dark blue or royal blue to milky white, green, bubble gum pink and canary yellow.
Durable, timeless and comfortable were adjectives used by the duo to describe the looks, which are also very feminine, with sensual, rounded shapes.
The duo played with textures and shiny and matte looks, combining satin and cashmere, for example. Knitted cashmere or mohair appeared tufty as fur in a fun and youthful pink coat.
Ferrero and Cucco turned to the best textile manufacturers here, employing precious wools, silks and cotton from the likes of Cariaggi, Albini, Lanificio Zegna and Ratti, taking pride in Italian craftsmanship and Made in Italy production. Sa Su Phi is manufactured by Olmar & Mirta, Rick Owens’ longtime partner.
Knits retail at between 1,300 and 2,550 euros and outerwear at between 1,000 and 4,950 euros. A cozy cashmere bomber jacket retails at 1,850 euros.
“These are outfits that you would want but cannot find, and that you can dress up or down,” Cucco said.
“For 15 years, we interpreted the brands we worked for in a personal way and we did not want to change this with Sa Su Phi. We wanted this project to represent us,” said Ferrero, who also shares with Cucco a professional experience at Joseph, prior to Valextra. However, after developing the handbags and accessories categories for so long, they were ready to approach apparel.
The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop their enthusiasm. “The moment has arrived to venture on our own, in an uncompromising way,” Cucco said.