'I like a challenge': Alessandro Dell’Acqua's new collaboration with Tod's
'What is important to me is the opportunity to collaborate and to do something that is totally different to what I am doing for my private label,' says Dell’Acqua
“I have two souls – one very dark and one very bourgeois,” Alessandro Dell’Acqua tells me.
The fashion designer’s latest project, a collaboration with the luxury shoe and leather goods brand Tod’s, falls firmly into the latter category, he maintains. “It has a very Milanese, bourgeois mood,” he says of the new capsule collection of shoes, jackets and dresses.
Dell’Acqua is the first designer to partner with Tod’s for the brand’s T Factory, which takes its name from Andy Warhol’s famed Factory and will invite creatives from a range of fields – from filmmakers and fashion designers to artists and photographers – to design capsule and limited-edition collections that reinterpret the Tod’s DNA. “I think they chose me because I am Italian – super Italian,” Dell’Acqua exclaims.
The designer’s “bourgeois” offering translates as a line of stretch ankle boots, suede driving shoes, kitten-heeled pumps and ankle-strap sandals in shades of blush pink, black and tan, adorned with oversized bows. Sweeping up over the sides in an elegant curve are the distinctive rubber pebble studs that are a signature of Tod’s Gommino shoe.
“It is a new Gommino situation – super-feminine, very sexy,” says Dell’Acqua. “It is more sensual. The Tod’s loafer is a very masculine shoe. For me, it was important to start with the loafer and then create something very feminine. What is important to me is the opportunity to collaborate and to do something that is totally different to what I am doing for my private label. I like a challenge.”
The simplicity of the shoe collection, with its three classic hues, understated, comfort-first kitten heels and pliable suedes, is complemented by modest-cut dresses in buttery soft leather, trench coats, biker jackets and windbreakers that artfully bridge the gap between casual and classic. Even the humble bomber jacket is elevated: “I wanted to create a bomber, but not for skiing, for the theatre. A modern bomber,” Dell’Acqua comments.
The collection features many of Dell’Acqua’s signature touches, and represents something of a return to early form for a designer who in addition to having two souls, has had two careers. The first iteration of Alessandro Dell’Acqua came with the launch of his eponymous label in 1996. The brand was lauded for its refined evening wear and cocktail dresses, and was sported by models and film stars. For Michael Jackson’s ill-fated 2009 This Is It tour, Dell’Acqua made the performer’s gold-sequined trousers. His style signatures included nude hues set against black lace and layers of chiffon; a constant interplay of transparencies; and a focus on extreme sensuality rather than overt sexuality.
His aesthetic was heavily influenced by the Italian neoclassical films that he watched as a child and that first led him to fall in love with fashion. “When I start a collection, for me it’s like a movie,” he says. “I think of a collection as if it were a film. The most important thing is the attitude.”
But then, in 2009, Dell’Acqua stepped away from his label, risking his career in the name of creative autonomy. In a letter to the press, he explained that Cherry Grove, the company responsible for producing and distributing the Alessandro Dell’Acqua brand, was preventing the designer from checking the quality of his own creations. So he walked away, losing the right to design under his own name in the process.
He made a comeback in 2010 with a new brand, No. 21; the name itself, a reference to the date that Dell’Acqua was born, is symbolic of a kind of rebirth. This time around, the focus was on more practical, accessible daywear, favouring clean, simple lines and quality materials.
“It felt like I was back at the beginning, starting out in the fashion world I had to start from scratch; it was as if I was going back 30 years,” Dell’Acqua recalls. “It is as if I have had two careers – one started in 1996 with Alessandro Dell’Acqua and then, all of a sudden, it stopped.”
It is clear that the episode was traumatic, but Dell’Acqua is ready to put it all behind him. He is even ready, he says, to start embracing some of those old style signatures that were so prevalent in his early career, but have been noticeably lacking ever since.
I ask him whether he has any regrets – or whether he would do anything differently if he had the chance. “No,” he says, without skipping a beat. “Absolutely not.”
Updated: January 20, 2019 12:47 PM