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Vintage = Fashion + Trends + Research

Each collection comes from the creativity of the designers, who are always looking for inspiration, ideas and details.
One source from which an increasingly large number of style offices draw when they are in the research phase for the preparation of the new collection is the vintage world.
Extrapolating details, forms, ways of processing fabrics from the years passed is a way of working that now belongs to almost all designers.
There are experts in vintage that have archives of pieces selected for them by those involved in research for their creations.

We have met Sabrina Montanari, an industry expert, who has told us where her passion and her appreciation for a 'past world' full of ideas and charm come from.

How and when was your passion for vintage born?

During the years at the art school. After school, we went around the old town and found some shops with never-ending stocks going back to the 70’s: I spent hours with my friends in the dust and cold and tried everything on in the dim light, then we went home with our hands black from the dust and shopping bags filled to the rim. 
The first vintage shops in Genoa looked like cellars crammed with boxes of sweatshirts and sweaters, and we could always buy something because prices were rock bottom. 
We did not feel part of any sub-culture, internet at home was expensive, we listened to Radio Rock FM, the Hives, the Strokes and Nirvana during painting lessons and we enjoyed mixing flared leg trousers with other styles.
Then I discovered that black was the most beautiful color of all.
In time I have refined my taste and the stylistic choices, keeping a constant Sixties flavor with more or less dark influences dictated by the time and mood, and continuing to add details.

The term ‘vintage’ covers a wide time span. Do you reference a particular period? What does ‘vintage’ mean?

Let's start from the beginning: vintage in French means the harvesting of wine grapes, and is used for wines of prestigious harvest years. In the fashion language it is used to define the quality and value of an object with more than 20 years of life, which by its characteristics, is the symbol of the culture of a given period. Featuring extraordinary workmanship and materials and being unique by definition, vintage cannot be defined as simply 'second hand'.
Every decade has a special connotation:  I prefer the turn of the 60’s and'70’s for the taste of the graphic prints, the structured materials, the plastic sculpture-buttons and a clearly recognizable color palette.

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The world of vintage includes fashion, clothing, accessories, art, music and make-up. You have a unique style: is it so for all those who deal with vintage?

I do not like to make comparisons, but I think of style as the dress of personality, the best way to say something interesting without words. It can always change the subject and points of view.
Personal style is built little by little over the years, it strengthens over time, is the expression of ourselves and with us it grows and changes direction while maintaining its distinctive and permanent character. We consciously shape it only in part. Another part is unrelated to our will.
It is not simply to create an outfit, but to live the relationship between clothing, music and art as an expression of society: the subcultures, especially from the second half of the 60’s, perfectly represent this fusion. Just think of Andy Warhol's Factory.

What is your background?

I’ve always preferred the non-verbal communication to other expressive codes, images rather than words.
After art school, I graduated from the 'Academy of Fine Arts' in Genoa. I then got a Master in Design and Fashion in Biella and I started working in Milan as PR for Gianvito Rossi and Allegri.
Now I work as a fashion and product designer for several well established brands.

You work in fashion, design collections for different brands targeting a young market. Where do you find inspiration?

Around, everywhere: at trade fairs, in shops, in my closet, in magazines, at the movies, watching people on the street, on the internet.
I study the trend forecasts identifying the guidelines for the new seasons and building the moods for the next collections.
It is important to maintain a global vision to differentiate, translate and filter the trends for different brands according to their intrinsic features.

In which stylists and collections do you see references to the vintage world?

Today more than in the past designers look at the vintage with increasing attention.
There is a constant going back to the fashion of more than 20 years ago. Now, in particular, the focus is on the early 70’s.
I consider interesting and fresh the interest in the darker side of recent years, both in colors and in the sensations they evoke.
At the moment, I am utterly in love with Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director: purple, red and mustard, collars, bows, and transparencies, suede and high boots. What else?
I really like the romantic side of Giambattista Valli, the revisited 60’s mix of Miu Miu and the minimalism of Jil Sander.

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Which are the key exhibitions in Italy and abroad?

I'm not a great exhibition goer as you can usually find there Chanel and Gucci, a great deal of pieces at the expense of originality, and so crowded that I usually get a headache.
I start each trip with my map of little shops and flea markets, I enter them with the curiosity of being able to find something unique. I discover the bohemian neighborhoods housing them: SoFo in Stockholm, Prenzlauer Berg and Mauerpark in Berlin, Marais in Paris. A little piece of history can be worth more than a souvenir photo.

What are the most interesting brands to discover if someone inexperienced would want to buy a dress or a vintage accessory? Which is your preferred period?

Personally, I think vintage does not follow precise cross references.
I run my fingers on the stand talking to my friends without paying much attention and if something strikes me I pray it’s my size: it is an emotional purchase where the brand has little importance.
The inexperienced fascinated by this world must develop a natural curiosity about what they find attractive and get to know the culture behind the garment. The lack of attitude fosters the dreaded 'carnival' effect.
I especially love the decade running from the second half of the 60s to the first half of the 70’s because I find that it is a time of metamorphosis of style that with its energy has generated a climax of unusual creativity. Often styles mingle and intertwine, the prints have nineteenth-century references and it is hard to classify all this.

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So, vintage or fashion?

First, vintage because it is unrepeatable: your best friend will never run the risk of wearing your same dress.
I seek the potential of the clothes: I like the restyling as an artistic gesture, the transformation into something new.
From contemporary fashion, I take the creative gesture, the color and matter research.

Where we can find your selections?

You can check me out on Facebook  and my blog. 

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Thank you for having brought us into a world so far away yet so close, so linked to beauty, culture and fashion.
iKRIX Editorial Services