Lawrence Steele is making a comeback at Aspesi as creative director, a new official role for the brand, which was founded in 1969 by Alberto Aspesi.
The American designer was a consultant at the Milan-based label for 13 years, from 2004 to 2017, when he joined Marni as associate creative director supporting Francesco Risso, his longtime partner and creative director of the brand founded by the Castiglioni family and now under the OTB umbrella.
A graduate of the Art institute of Chicago, Steele cut his teeth at Moschino and then at Prada before establishing his namesake label, now discontinued, in 1994. Along with working for over a decade at Marni, Steele explored different fields and designed furniture pieces for design firm Marsotto.
“What I find fascinating about Aspesi is the richness of the values that the brand carries, from every angle. There is an appreciation of the sobriety that is typically Italian, combined with a quest for durability that is of absolute importance today,” Steele said. “The attention to detail and the study of materials are no less remarkable, but what for me is the value to be explored is the humanistic character: putting the person at the center, creating clothes that combine beauty and function and that are instruments of individual expression rather than costumes. My intent is to pursue this route, looking at the world and at the historical moment, because timeliness is the salient feature of our DNA.”
Last year, Aspesi reported revenues of 46 million euros, up 10 percent over the two-year period 2017 to 2019. In 2016, the company received an investment from private equity firm Armònia SGR. Last March, under the lead of chief executive officer Simona Clemenza, who joined the label in September 2019, Aspesi kicked off a new direct-to-consumer strategy. The brand opened of a 2,153-square-foot flagship store in Tokyo’s luxury Aoyama district, as well as a pop-up shop on the contemporary floor of the prestigious GinzaSix department store.
“For the first time in its history, Aspesi has a creative director, whose vision will coordinate the brand in a holistic continuum. Lawrence Steele’s choice was natural, and not only because Aspesi has been part of his past: it is the very idea of style that is contiguous without being consequential,” Clemenza said. “The plan is to make Aspesi a brand with an unmistakable identity that speaks to the public with a perfect balance of textile research and design, renewing the spirit that made Made in Italy a worldwide success.”