Interview

WHAT IS THE NEW FORMAL?

Dust Magazine on the fashion event/show Otherwise Formal

Dust magazine, the publication devoted to fashion and contemporary culture which is based between London and Berlin, will curate Otherwise Formal, the catwalk show-event staged at the Fortezza da Basso which represents one of the leading events of this edition of Pitti Uomo.  The project explores what is probably one of the biggest contributions the fair has made to men’s fashion: to move beyond the boundaries of what can be considered formal and the rules of elegant dressing. We discussed this with Luca Guarini and Luigi Vitali, respectively the magazine’s Creative Director and Editor-in-chief.
 
Dust magazine will curate a catwalk show event at Pitti Uomo for the first time. What can we expect from this event?
With this show we will be bringing our perspective and the magazine’s DNA to the Pitti Uomo fair context, investigating and asking ourselves how ‘formal’ wear can be considered today.  Pitti Uomo is certainly one of the places delegated to understanding the various aspects of this market trend.  Our interpretation will surely have a strong esthetic impact, the sub-text of which will be a deeper reflection on what it means to be a man today, in the context in which we live.  The title chosen is "Formality/A question of quality".  At first glance this can seem a very classical choice, almost like an institutional initiative.  In fact, the title refers to a verse in a song from 1986 by the Italian band CCCP, Io sto bene.  A conscious quote that overturns the apparent didactic aspect in a broader existential dimension "a formality or a question of quality, I’m fine, I’m bad, I don’t know how to be", the voice of a generational crisis that has once again become topical at the present time.
 
What do you intend to communicate with this choice?
The difficulty of perceiving ourselves and what we want in a context marked by social, economic, climatic precariousness.  How do we choose what to pay attention to when we are busy thinking about what we should be, what we would like to be and who we really are?  Where do we start changing ourselves when our reference models are no longer sustainable or can no longer be updated?  That is how we imagine the man who wears the new formal style today: someone who asks himself questions about the form and meaning of things, who is destabilized, often confused or paralyzed by the huge uncertainties that place the future in doubt.  In this uncertainty, the only guides are tradition and innovation and quality is probably the antidote.  A look at life that is reflected in the attitude, the clothing, the thought.  The desire to be better than you are remains, in the same way that the doubts persist.  These are elements that are blended together in an esthetic clash which combines punk and formal elegance.
 
What can you tell us about the location?
The location will be one of the flights of stairs that lead down to the basement floor of the fair, service architecture with an industrial flavor, mostly gray, made of pre-fabricated slabs with neon lighting.  A setting that is more linked to a memory of ‘70s/’80s industrialization than the 16th century walls of the Fortezza.  This is the scenario, amplified by the gray climate of January against which the ‘new formal’ style interpreted by the magazine will starkly contrast.  Basically, the attention will be concentrated on the esthetics and the various stratifications of possible sociological/existential perceptions as well as Italian-ness repeated and reinterpreted with our own twist and from an international viewpoint.
 
On the basis of which elements did you select the event’s protagonist designers and brands?
We are interested in simple, essential and direct pieces that have an idea behind them.  Or, if you prefer, a ‘feeling’.  We are interested in an elegance that is attentive, above all, to quality and the ability to update classic garments to meet new demands, like sustainability and being beyond trends, ensuring that the wearability and image are not debilitated by the succession of seasons but last the test of time.
 
What is new formal today, according to Dust magazine?
A simple elegance with a classic taste but worn differently, in a freer and more personal way.  An elegance which reflects the quest for quality in all aspects connected with our life, as well as the responsibility this entails.
 
Which are the new lifestyle frontiers for men?
The thing that defines the men of today is being on the edge of a social, economic, ecological crisis that is unprecedented in recent history.  A conscious, proactive, disenchanted lifestyle is coming alive, the opposite of the one to which we have become accustomed by the consumerist system in recent decades.  Limiting one’s impact and making free, conscious and responsible personal choices is being seen as a growing necessity by all levels of the population.  Quality and efficient performance with the minimum consumption possible is what we ask of a product, as well as our lives.  We need to rethink our lifestyles starting with these requirements.
 
Why and how did the project for your capsule collection develop?
It came about a few years ago with the wearable page concept where the magazine’s images and universe were extended to include the clothes worn.  The artists with whom we work for the magazine become the protagonists of the various collections.  The garments became collector’ items.  The latest issue which will come out in January celebrates the lengthy collaboration between Peter De Potter and the magazine by re-proposing a selection of images published in DUST over the years.  The Belgian visual artist, famous among the general public for his long collaboration with Raf Simons and the author of the artwork for Kanye West’s previous album, is also the person who created the collage we are using for the Otherwise Formal event.