“You can get where you want wherever you are, the main thing is to understand who you really are and what your likes and dislikes are.” Marcelo Burlon is a self-made man. He has gone up and down the slippery slope several times, always emerging with his head held high. Marcelo is unfiltered. He has never compromised but has created his own rules instead. And he has become an example of how an outcast can proudly get to be among the 500 most influential people in the fashion world according to The Business of Fashion. He is this and a lot more besides. His personal and professional lives intertwine inseparably in the documentary Uninvited – Marcelo Burlon, written by Andrea Batilla and directed by Mattia Colombo which will be shown at the Pitti Uomo 93 fashion show at the La Compagnia cinema in Florence.

Why Uninvited? In what way does this word tie in with your story?
Uninvited encapsulates in just one word a kind of social status where people like me, who in some way represent independence in the fashion system, were not invited to institutional events, but over time I myself became the organiser of many of these happenings.
What do you think and hope emerges about you, personally and professionally, from this documentary?
The aim of this documentary is actually to tell my story in a simple, direct way, without filters. Many ask what the key to success has been and this film has all my story in it.
The documentary is split over 4 different places: Patagonia, Milan, the Marche and Naples. What do these places mean to you? Patagonia and Milan seem to be virtually at opposite ends of the earth, and not just literally: Patagonia is a land rich in spirituality, and Milan is in some ways frenetic. How do these come together for you?
5 places are described, there is Paris in respect of the commercial side as well. But in fact, these 5 places are part of my life, they are places where I live and work; I could never compare them because there is a different story in each of them and different people with whom I have chosen to make my personal and professional journey. 
What is meant by creating your own world and writing your own story? What sacrifices has your journey entailed? And what do you think you have found your freedom in instead? If you could, would you do something differently?
I would do everything differently, every experience I have had, every person I have met along this journey has been essential to my growth. Creating your own world means not compromising, it means going against a system or simply not following their rules but making your own. Freedom is attained when you decide from the core of your being to be yourself at all times, to give deep-seated value to life and your contribution towards helping to change things. When you give hope to new generations, then you have achieved absolute freedom.

Your journey has been multifaceted and, as regards your work as a designer, not always accepted or understood... what has all this meant to you? Do you think that in some way it helped to spur you to carry on? And do you really think that “in Italy, if you want, you can get where you want to be”?

You can get where you want wherever you are, the main thing is to understand who you really are and what your likes and dislikes are. I was not accepted immediately because I brought along something new, a way of communicating that was different from what they were used to in the world of fashion and communication. I was the first to start using social media to promote my events and then my brand, my story was studied at the Bocconi University and in other business and marketing schools, they have written around thirty dissertations on me and this is very nice but also strange. I get dozens of messages every day from kids who want make it big, who want to rock the world, but often they only think of the goal and not the journey. The journey is the more interesting part of one’s story, because it is there that one grows by way of the experiences one has, and then you might get to your final goal but the very essence is contained in that journey.

A talk with Marcelo Burlon

Andrea Batilla, screenwriter of the documentary, tells us about Marcelo Burlon

“A normal person who has remained true to himself, although he has experienced an extraordinary upward trend, both professionally and personally.”

Thus does Andrea Batilla – journalist and screenwriter of the documentary Uninvited – Marcelo Burlon define the designer.
Almost two years in the making, Uninvited, directed by Mattia Colombo, tells of one of the more unusual and controversial figures in contemporary fashion, but it is also an across-the-board tale that, emerging from an individual story, encompasses broader themes that range from identity to social liberation, from the establishment of community to the sense of belonging and the celebration of diversity.
For the Pitti Uomo fashion show, the documentary will be shown on Thursday 11 January at 21.30 at the La Compagnia cinema in Florence. We asked Andrea Batilla to tell us more:

Where did the idea for the documentary come from? 
Over the last few years there has been an increase in the number of documentaries covering fashion. Some have had a genuine and interesting narrative, many have just been opportunities for self-praise, devoid of interest. The world of fashion certainly needs to be described in a more in-depth way because it is often the victim of easy, superficial stereotypes as well as an addiction to the enormous egos of many designers. It is from this idea, mine and that of the director Mattia Colombo, that the documentary was born – the story of a normal person who has remained true to himself, although he has experienced an extraordinary upward trend, both professionally and personally.
Why Uninvited? In what way do you think that the story of Marcelo could have represented a revolution, a break, in contemporary fashion?
Marcelo Burlon is a self-made man who, as he himself says in the film, was not born with two surnames, never moved in the right circles, yet despite this got onto the list of the 500 most influential people in the fashion world according to The Business of Fashion. Fashion might seem like a meritocratic system but in fact it is a closed world with rules that are decades old. Marcelo has demolished them all, building his credibility through direct relations with his clients solely by using social media and music.
How much time, shooting and research was needed to make it?
The film needed nearly two years’ work, between shooting, archive research and editing. In particular, the large amount of period material enabled us to give an outline of how fashion evolved between the Nineties and now, telling how the world of clubbing and streetwear had a strong influence on its look and also its dynamics.
According to you, what emerges from the documentary?
I hope that it is clear that today there is a freedom that was unthinkable until ten years ago. Some think that this freedom is bringing about an excessive democratisation of consumerism, while in our opinion it is creating a serious crisis for the large global groups, finally making room for independent ventures.
What do you think might arise in respect of Marcelo’s profile?
Marcelo is a personality who is much loved and much hated, like all people with a high public profile. What struck us about him, and that none of us was perhaps expecting, was his complete openness and frankness towards us. He never worried about revealing the less glamorous, more human, more conflicting aspects of his life to us as well, and also the more intensely personal ones such as his love for spirituality.
And how would you describe him to us now?
I think that Marcelo is basically a man who knows what he wants, someone who has been through hell but has come out victorious. He is a model of life over and above his professional one.
Who would you want to see this documentary?
Everyone who thinks that fashion is a superficial and vain environment. Everyone who says, “Basically, he made a T-shirt”. It’s not like that. And the documentary is there to show that behind any route to success there is often a complex personal story and a person who has known how to transform suffering into an idea that works.
Even in Italy you can make it if you want to?

Yes, definitely. Perhaps it’s not as easy as in the United States but Marcelo’s story shows this to be true.