DELL’ACQUA’S A FOR EFFORT

Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — Alessandro Dell’Acqua, all dressed in black, patiently poses by the tall blond model wearing a bright, Tweetie-yellow marab£ skirt, a yellow and purple angora twinset and stiletto-heeled sandals. The outfit is from Dell’Acqua’s new A in Milan collection, and the contrast with his own subdued persona is striking. “I believe designers should be daring,” says Dell’Acqua, who admits loving flamboyant Azzedine Alaia, John Galliano and Gianni Versace.
“Galliano is incredibly creative. He doesn’t care about what others think and simply designs what gives him pleasure. He is a genius,” Dell’Acqua goes on.
“So is Alaia, who doesn’t even have runway shows anymore and presents his collections whenever he wants. In Italy, the only designer who takes risks is Gianni Versace. He gives a lot to Italy and is always evolving. I admire those who move forward.”
Dell’Acqua’s own move forward came with the presentation of his fall-winter ’95 A in Milan line, his first independent collection after years of working as a consultant for such names as Genny, Byblos, Gilmar, Maska and Enrica Massei. The collection is produced by Belle Maille, a small, newly founded company of 15 employees based in Carpi, near Modena, in the renowned knitwear production area of Italy.
Dell’Acqua describes his line as “very feminine, with close-fitting shapes, so as to show off the body. I adore the Fifties and its glamorous, voluptuous women such as Sofia Loren. Currently, I would love to dress Paloma Picasso.” A in Milan features a select range of very strong colors such as fuchsia, yellow, purple, red and basic black and white. The collection consists of knitwear, treated in an innovative way, so that the end result is very similar to woven cloth. “We study and research new materials with Belle Maille,” says Matteo Guarnieri, the designer’s business partner and commercial director of the design consulting studio the two opened together eight years ago.
“The line’s bestseller is our creation called cigno [swan], a fur used for everything from miniskirts to coats, which is actually a blend of wool and viscose,” he adds.
The line also uses unusual combinations of angora or mohair and stretch materials. “These are extremely successful because they remain soft, but at the same time very compact, with no shredding of fibers,” Guarnieri says. noting that many of the high-quality yarns used come from Prato mills.
The fall-winter collection features 70 outfits. Two previous test collections of about 30 outfits each sold so well — 7,000 pieces — that the house had to put an abrupt stop to sales.
“We simply couldn’t guarantee supplies to retailers,” Guarnieri claims.
The line is moderately priced: A skirt retails in Italy for around $75 (120,000 lire), a dress for $112 (180,000 lire) and a coat at $187 (300,000 lire).
A in Milan is sold in 140 Italian sales points and is especially successful in the country’s central and southern regions, where women dare to wear brighter colors. “We are contacting agents, so that next year we will be able to sell in major U.S. department stores, France, England and Arabian countries,” says Guarnieri.
“I believe that the U.S. market is more receptive to new fashion trends,” Dell’Acqua adds. “The Italian market is too difficult, and it doesn’t provide enough room for new designers. If I were 10 years younger, I would go to the United States to work,” he continues. “In Italy, big companies give priority to big names. This is why it’s wonderful to grow together with Belle Maille, with which we have a strong understanding and cooperation.” Encouraged by the good response to A in Milan, Dell’Acqua is thinking of launching a line with his own name — a long-held dream of his — next fall.

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