An only apparently serendipitous meeting; a solid sense of harmony; a line of creative research that opened the doors - or rather the walls - between design and high fashion: this is, in a few words, the story of Luce, the collection of large porcelain slabs that renowned master of style Guillermo Mariotto has created for Iris Ceramica Group. The new range is set to be showcased at the ‘Corpi di Luce’ (Bodies of Light) exhibition, which will open its doors on 6 June - the first day of FuoriSalone - at the company’s showroom at Via Santa Margherita 4, Milan (open until the end of September). Mariotto, who was born in Caracas to an Italian father and a Venezuelan mother, has made a name for himself the world around as an haute couture stylist, but his background actually includes a design-focused education, with a degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts and his beginnings in theatrical set design. A multifaceted and intriguing character, he is forthcoming about what set this project in motion: “I’ve always loved ceramics and have worked with clay since I was a child. It was my true passion. Maria Carafoli, a mutual friend, introduced me to Federica Minozzi (ed.: CEO of the company) one lovely evening in Modena; what immediately arose out of this meeting was a very strong connection and the idea of collaborating on a collection. When I later visited the company’s production facility, showroom and museum, I realised that porcelain had already been used to explore all the possible avenues in terms of finishes and interpretations. So I thought I would go a little further, break down those walls, think outside the box and look for ideas in my own world. And that was exactly where I found what I was looking for: drapery, a theme that is very close to my heart. And using the most precious, elegant fabric in the world: duchess silk”.
Drapery is not simply an aesthetic element: it is a solution that allows the body to have its freedom, following its natural movements. A material as precious as silk satin can only amplify this effect, catching the light and sending it back in playfully fleeting, shifting reflections. It was based on these elements that Mariotto created the Luce collection: “I removed the perception of hardness from the wall: it was no longer a solid wall, but instead a surface that exudes translucency, freeing the material from the bonds of its rigidity. Iris Ceramica proved to be an incredibly valuable partner, with a sensitive eye for the peculiar nature of my research. I established a relationship of great respect, admiration and understanding with the people responsible for developing Luce”.
And for Mariotto, nothing happens by accident: “Luce is a project that invites you to look beyond the everyday. It is a creative avenue, yes, but also part of my philosophy of life. I firmly believe that whatever happens to us at any given time is what we truly need, and nothing else. The present moment is our most precious treasure - nothing happens by chance. That’s why I find such enjoyment in everything I do”. For the stylist, every idea, every situation can be transformed into a challenge, like the ‘Favole di Moda’ (Fashion Fairytales) project, curated by Stefano Dominella, which Mariotto is working on for 15 June: an experimental upcycling collection inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales set to be presented at the Villa Torlonia theatre in Rome, the city where the stylist is based both personally and professionally. “I work with environmentally-sustainable materials designed to salvage waste,” he explains. “By upcycling them, I get to improve on the original material. In this case, the material comes from end-of-life tyres (ELTs), with their rubber pulverised and processed by Ecopneus before being transformed into a fabric, which lends itself wonderfully to creating appliqués or being coloured”.
Inspiration and research go hand in hand in the stories told by this creative sensation, who is known to the general public for his television appearances: “This popularity has brought me an unexpected and truly magnificent gift, namely that I’m well loved by young people who, after sixteen years on their screens, almost consider me part of the family. It really is a beautiful relationship - one of trust and familiarity - which I had the opportunity to further strengthen in the master classes I hold at the Accademia degli Artisti in Rome, where I teach the importance of living in the present”.
Captions and credits
01 Guillermo Mariotto at the end of a fashion show, courtesy of Guillermo Mariotto
02 ‘Corpi di Luce’ exhibition, Iris Ceramica Group.
03 and 07-10: The Luce collection by Guillermo Mariotto, Iris Ceramica.
04 Guillermo Mariotto at the Iris Ceramica Group headquarters for the presentation of the Luce collection, courtesy of Guillermo Mariotto.
05 ‘Beautiful Garbage’ dress, recycled materials, photo by Antonio Barrella, courtesy of Guillermo Mariotto
06 Dress made of knitted plastic bags using an upcycling process, photo by Antonio Barrella, courtesy of Guillermo Mariotto