His bold colors, labor-intensive clothes, rich fabrics and sophisticated embellishments have quickly caught the eye of editors and retailers and made Marco de Vincenzo the talk of Milan.
The new partnership with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to develop his ready-to-wear label, inked in February, has already helped the designer grow his business 500 percent with next spring’s collection compared to spring 2014, and quickly reach around 90 points of sale, from Bergdorf Goodman and Harvey Nichols to Le Bon Marché and Holt Renfrew.
“There were no alibis when I started, as people expect perfection, timely deliveries and quality early on,” said the affable and laid-back De Vincenzo. “I have even fewer alibis now that I have LVMH behind me.
“The initial years were hard,” he recalled. “I was self-financed and at the start, it’s easy to associate with the wrong people, I know many designers who started off at the same time as I did and had to give up.”
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De Vincenzo, who is based in Rome, continues to work on accessories collections as a consultant for Fendi. The designer, 36, remains grateful to the brand that gave him the opportunity to hone his skills for more than a decade. He splits his time between the capital and his rtw manufacturer in Soncino, a one-hour drive from Milan.
A former winner of the Vogue Italia “Who is on Next?” talent search, De Vincenzo is now reaping the rewards of a decision he calls “risky,” moving to apparel with his own collection, launched in 2009, from accessories — although this change gives him a boost of “adrenaline,” and freedom to experiment.
He conceded that 2014 was a “very important, critical year,” but considers himself “full of energy and a hard worker. I recharge quickly and reset myself.”
The designer believes that by following one’s instinct and making creativity the top priority, working with “consistency and transparency, there is a happy ending.”
Apparently, the market is rewarding this consistency. “The items that have sold out are not basics, but the strongest ones. I see a symbiosis between what I propose and what sells.”
Still, he keeps a close watch on the brand’s commercial needs, noting, “Creativity must be part of a context and clothes are meant to be worn — this is most important.”
With LVMH, De Vincenzo is laying out a six-year strategy. While his focus now is on women’s rtw, he isn’t setting limits and said he would like to explore handbags and men’s wear. In the meantime, his first pre-collection will bow in January. “It’s a small, fun collection, an extract of my codes and style, and I am very happy with the end result.”
He realizes the pace is now accelerated, but noted that a pre-collection helps put things in focus.
“This is a start-up — we are growing quickly and I realize it. Some pressure has eased but new pressure has been added. “Having LVMH behind me creates enormous expectations, but I try to transform it into fuel,” De Vincenzo noted. “There are no limits, and some people tell me I have the right means, so I can’t go wrong.”
However, the designer said he doesn’t let all this get to him — living in Rome and spending much of his time in the factory grants some distance.
Working with Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi over the years has rubbed off on De Vincenzo, who also does not build his collections on a single theme or inspiration but “on energy and instinct,” he said. “I put on the table what attracts me in terms of a harmony of things. This is very stimulating as you accept any design path. In the final moment, you cross your fingers, you put everything together, and it’s magical if you achieve that final harmony.”
De Vincenzo strives for “dynamic collections,” and “a final surprise.” He also appreciates brands “that change without conceptual limits through a style that allows experimentation. When something looks like something else, I distance myself from it.”
That’s not to say De Vincenzo has no staples. “I have my own obsessions that return — my play with colors, waves, circles, geometric and three-dimensional modules, the optical Sixties — each a personal interpretation, each with a different sensation,” he explained.
The designer’s fabric research is often “a play on illusions, fringes seem flat, but when they are worn they have a different life, for example.”
De Vincenzo prides himself on the uniqueness of his fabrics, which he enjoys creating and transforming. In light of the richness of his materials, he keeps his shapes simple and he believes “in falling in love at first sight, without a need to explain the clothes” — clothes that he strives to make “timeless.”
“Everything is quick and trendy now, and this scares me,” he said. “We should return to collecting clothes that will be beautiful in years to come.”