Vancouver Fashion Week SS19 - Interview With Fashion Designer Arianna Bonifazi of NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti)

All images provided by NABA unless otherwise marked.

Image by Arun Nevader of Getty Images
Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I grew up in the countryside, basically i spent all my childhood being outside between my grandma’s violets and the smell of wheat.

What you like when you were young? What were your interests in your teenage years?

When i was young, i was intrigued by math, geometry and everything tat linked me to signs and pictures. My grandma was a seamstress and the lines her patterns always affected me because they let me get carried away and stimulated my creativity.

Looking back, can you remember any early signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

As i have already stated , my grandma was a seamstress and my mom, even if she didn’t follow her footsteps, knows really well how to sew so I always had something to do with clothes.

I often went with them to the fabric shop and i always loved to get lost in it. Both of them tried to teach me how to sew but at the beginning I was completely unable. I remember when I tried to sew my first skirt with my grandma…after the third wrong seam my grandma got mad at me and got out the lab screaming that she would have never tried to teach me anything. That moment triggered something in me. I started to develop a passion for something that apparently I wasn’t good at it but that was able to take my mind completely. I had to lose myself in it.

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

My formation is not purely about fashion. I got a bachelor in product design but fashion has always been a challenge that I wanted to face soon or later in my life. My parents didn’t support me 100% on the choice of a master in fashion at the beginning but after a lot of fights I convinced them that was the thing that I had to do. 

Why did you choose to study in the program at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti)?

I chose the Naba’s fashion and textile master because firstly NABA is an academy. I was coming from a technical education and I felt the need to free myself from the same method that I always loved, I had to free my mind and creativity till the end, so I thought the academy could be the right place to do it.

I liked also the fact that it wasn’t entirely focused on the creation of collections, but there were courses about history of art and above all others concerning fabrics and experiments on it.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you? What was easy for you? Are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?
Actually there’s nothing particularly difficult, for me to create garments it’s a kind of communication, my way to speak and express how I feel inside. I like experimenting and fashion has always allowed it!

Perhaps thinking about it, the most difficult step is the realization of the garment itself, but above all the re-entry into all the traditional rules of sewing and tailoring. 

Illustrations of this collection
What was the inspiration for the collection you showed on the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week?

I created the collection “Je me suis perdu en cherchant les chevaux blancs” during a somewhat dark period of my life ... that fact justifies the highly present of black color.

During those months, fate confronted me with bad situations and I didn’t feel very well ... It was all tight, confused, and I was totally wrong. So I needed to talk in some way, to make people understand myself, then open up and overcome that moment.

And I thought that maybe I had to go back to the concept of “dirt” (taken in the white look) but at the same time transmitting that sense of suffocation and solemnity, of confusion of the “me not me”, and the difficulty I had doing that thing...I arrived to the narrow silhouettes, long and sinuous, that often don’t allow the model to walk and “breathe” comfortably.

I was also very inspired by the concept of puppet, both at the philosophical level and the object itself.

Describe your collection – customer, day-evening-sportswear-separates-casual-luxury-glamour-stage-costuming-punk?
I don’t want to give a specific definition to my collection, rather I would simply transmit and make clear to the viewer how I feel, what I want to tell. In general all the garments has its own style, but there are both! Experimental pieces and clothing that can be worn normally. 

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

It’s mainly based on the black color,the black that make dirty the white...I wanted to create a clear and well visible contrast. Black is dark, fear, confusion; while white is light, it’s purity.

I also managed to “speak” through the touch and visually thanks to the fabrics; the denim canvas in black tells the heaviness but is approached to the lightness of the gauze, up to the idea of “fake” with the nylon, with I wanted to create also the sound effect during the walk of the model. In general I tried to combine fabrics very far from each other, just because on the body they are modeled in a different way and create disorder in the order.

Even the accessories, for example the zipper, are so important, clearly visible and bright.

Do you have a favourite look?

I don’t have a favorite look! All represent a path; and all of them have different tastes, as if we are walking, traveling from one space to another. 

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I think the world of fashion is saturated, and empty at the same time...I try to bring something that cause a feeling, something that could be a mess but also clear and “clean”. Ironically, I could say that something new is myself with all my contradictions! 

Illustrations of other design work.
Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

I would like to work immediately and make as many experiences as possible, not only in the fashion design, I want to experiment myself in all the fashion’s faces. And maybe, yes...I will open something mine, like a big open space where people as me can go deeply into art’s world.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you.

"Fashion design means using a different way to talk with people."

"Garments tell us their stories and it’s up to us to understand, recognize ourselves and then start a connection."

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For more information on the Fashion Design or Fashion and Textile programs at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti), please visit the website at