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Etro’s Marco de Vincenzo: “My first time in London was like going to mass”

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As anyone who works in the fashion industry knows, grappling with painfully tight deadlines is par for the course. However, after being appointed creative director of Etro in May last year, Marco de Vincenzo had just one month to put together his entire debut collection. No mean feat. ‘Fortunately, this time it was different,’ De Vincenzo explains, a week after presenting his sophomore womenswear AW23 show at Milan Fashion Week. ‘I think this time, everybody was ready to understand where I’m going with Etro. And I also felt ready, too.’

Forty-two-year-old Sicilian native De Vincenzo is already a seasoned designer, if not a household name. Fresh out of Rome’s Istituto Europeo di Design, he was snapped up by Fendi at the age of 21, rising to the position of head of leather goods. De Vincenzo’s namesake brand (which closed in 2020) was lauded by the likes of Vogue Italia’s Franca Sozzani and received backing from LVMH. He is now the first outside of the Etro family to be handed the keys to their kingdom. ‘I have around 20 years of experience, having worked at Fendi,’ says De Vincenzo. ‘So I really know what it means to respect the history of a brand but at the same time to try to tell its story with a new point of view. I feel honoured that the family has trusted me with this.’

Etro was founded in 1968 as a textile company by Gerolamo ‘Gimmo’ Etro, becoming renowned for its signature paisley patterns and bohemian shawls, emblematic of the nomadic bon vivants of the 1970s and beyond (those who favoured Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes would also have a penchant for an Etro print). De Vincenzo’s AW23 collection was an ode to this era. ‘I wanted to present something domestic in the mood of this collection — nothing was really “structured”,’ says De Vincenzo. ‘The history of Etro is rooted in textiles and homewares and I loved the idea of a woman throwing on a blanket, or layering with blankets, to create outerwear,’ he continues. ‘For this collection, I had the luxury of time. So I could mine the archive, where I discovered patterns that Etro made for a Saint Laurent throw, for example.’

Held in a historic Palazzo that had been decorated to look like a building site (a reference to the deconstructed clothes, perhaps? That he is building something, maybe?) the show featured models floating along its peripheries in billowing dresses, layered with droopy, chunky knits. Knee-high leather clog boots were met with fringed hemlines, while an explosion of colour and a heavy smattering of tartan and Paisley lent themselves to De Vincenzo’s maximalist vision. It felt warm and grounded in reality; the Etro blankets left on the seats were gleefully swooped up by attendees when the show finished.

After more than 25 years spent working in fashion, I still feel like the child who moved from Sicily to Rome, who fell in love with fashion and never looked back

When De Vincenzo took his bow after the finale, he was smiling from ear to ear. The cheers erupting from backstage were audible, the audience uplifted. ‘After more than 25 years spent working in fashion, I still feel like the child who moved from Sicily to Rome, who fell in love with fashion and never looked back,’ he says, when I ask where this palpable sense of joy comes from. ‘In fact, during this time, I remember visiting London and getting so much inspiration there, too. My first time in London was like going to mass. I remember going to Camden Town and being elated. London was about seeing creativity in the streets, on real people. The energy is incredible. If I was ever to show in London, I would present a show on a street somewhere — to me, that’s what fashion is all about.’

 (Etro)
(Etro)
 (Etro)
(Etro)