As the fashion pack leaves Milan for the start of the Paris shows on Tuesday, one designer will go with them: Alessandra Facchinetti, late of Valentino and Gucci, who is making her return to fashion after three years via the launch of a brand far removed from her couture and high fashion roots.
Ms Facchinetti, 39, has teamed up with Pinko, an Italian fast fashion/low luxury brand, to create Uniqueness, a brand predicated on the idea of affordable clothes that can be worn at any time, in any season, and that will be available online as they appear on the catwalk.
“From a creative point of view, it’s like a new start,“ says Ms Facchinetti, settling into a sofa in Milan, where she lives. “The process is totally free, but it is also the way we live now. If we want something we want it now. It’s all about freedom.”
When Ms Facchinetti talks about freedom, she is referring to herself as much as the clothes. She is part of a generation of talented and critically acclaimed designers, including Jil Sander and Olivier Theyskens, who fell foul of corporate politics in renowned fashion houses and have latterly found success teaming up with retail brands.
With Uniqueness, Ms Facchinetti and Pietro Negra, the founder of Pinko, are following in the footsteps of Ms Sander, who had a much-ballyhooed two-year collaboration with Japanese retailer Uniqlo that came to an end this season, and Mr Theyskens, who is now creative director of the American contemporary brand Theory.
Ms Facchinetti, who discovered via the media that, despite warm reviews, she had been fired as Valentino’s creative director after just two seasons (she also lasted only two seasons as chief women’s wear designer for Gucci), looks relieved when she says that with Mr Negra she has had a meeting of minds: “I really had the desire to break the system; to make what I like, present it and sell it.”
Hence the fact that Uniqueness will have a catwalk presentation this week and afterwards the 60-piece collection will go on sale on www.uniqueness.it and multibrand site www.thecorner.com. It will also be sold in some department stores and on their websites. The collection is aimed at “no season” and “the fabrics give a feeling of not needing to be changed every six months”. Think cotton, polyester and chiffon.
As with Theyskens’ collection for Theory, the pricing for Facchinetti’s venture is aimed at the high-middle market: T-shirts start at €90 ($121), and most of the collection is about €200 to €500. The most expensive item is €1,200 for a fake fur jacket. All the clothes are made in Italy, at Ms Facchinetti’s specification, in a factory in Fidenza. “We’ve managed to get a good balance between quality and price point. It is really well done,” she says.
The Uniqueness website is also going to work as hub for a lifestyle alla Facchinetti. She will be writing on Twitter and Facebook, and have readers help her create a mood board. Ms Facchinetti, a music buff and the daughter of an Italian rock star, will be making her own playlists and inviting her DJ friends to add their own music choices as added inspiration for her designs.
“I’m very timid, but here I have the frame to open myself; because this is the web, I can interact with my vision,” she says. “I was looking for new energy, and I have a feeling that this is a big injection of something new.” At the very least, she now has the freedom to try.