Project Michele De Lucchi
Collaborators Davide Angeli, Greta Corbani, Alessandra De Leonardis, Greta Rosset, Laiza Tonali, Alessandro Ghiringhelli
Photos Tom Vack
Text Antonella Boisi

One, two, three.

After the boutique di Milano, on Via Sant’Andrea, and the space in Hong Kong, recently renovated in keeping with the new design concept created by the architect Michele De Lucchi with the supervision of Rossella Jardini (creative director since 1994 of the Italian fashion house founded in 1983 by the fashion designer Franco Moschino), now it’s the turn of the flagship store in Rome, 1200 m2 on two levels, in the heart of the Eternal City In this double interview, we asked about the particular characteristics of this space, and how they are expressed in architectural, symbolic and narrative terms. Michele De Lucchi: “The measurements, first of all. It is a much larger space than the others, formed prior to restructuring by many residential and commercial units put together, categories that coexist and often overlap, in Rome, in the very nature of an urban fabric and edified morphology that is all a labyrinth at different levels of houses, balconies, staircases, courtyards, gardens. So I started with the spirit of the place, the atmosphere of sedimentation of things that overlap, without necessarily revealing a definitive result. I think the eternal nature of Rome comes precisely from this mentality, of often uncompleted research. I was immediately surprised, at the location, by the ‘catacomb’ character of certain walls, ruined here and there, from which layers of plasterboard emerged, put there to correct irregularities; made of those very slender, wide bricks (different from the standard versions that are higher and thicker) that are so Roman, linked to ancient construction techniques. After removing the later additions and superstructures, the spaces were brought back to their original identity, as the were in the beginning. This made it possible to gain back space, the most precious thing, even in what is quite an ample facility as a whole.” Rossella Jardini: “In this sense, the store will remain unique, something that cannot be repeated elsewhere. I’ve always said that I liked the idea of a boutique that is different from the others, to respect the city and its local character. Respect for the context and for the needs of representation of the brand coexist in magical balance here.” The walls are a strong point of the project. How was this exceptional setting constructed, for the display of collections and invention? Michele De Lucchi: “Thinking of it as a spatial path that is never boring and monotonous, like a mountain landscape that continually shifts perspectives during a hike. Step after step, there is always something new to see and to discover, which urges you to forge on. That is its charm. Which encourages you to enter a very deep space, along a wall that is almost 50 meters in length, a single shop window offering a long view from the street, bringing you all the way to the back of the store, where you find a discreet, quiet display niche, a playful metaphor of an apse, a place of spiritual solace. As a whole, it is like entering an infinite room, expanded by the use of mirrors and certain off-scale furnishing element, like the mega-armchair with black and white stripes in the window.” The vivid presence of wood is rather unusual for a fashion space. Is this a passion, an obsession, the need to experience and communicate something? Michele De Lucchi: “For me wood, with its intrinsic aesthetic qualities, formal and emotional depth, is the sign of the contemporary spirit. It is ecology, the perception of nature that is necessary for our survival. It is fundamental to represent and communicate this new sensibility to the world: soon we will take more care of the planet than the planet takes care of us.”. Rossella Jardini: “Personally, I love mirrors more, and I would put them everywhere, but I love everything Michele designs, from the vases to the lamps, and I convinced him by saying he could do whatever he wanted. Otherwise he would never have agreed to design the store.” What is memory in a fashion space and how can it stay alive in a market that strives to erase affection for clothing and objects, in favor of their continuous renewal and proliferation? Michele De Lucchi: “I have taken the viewpoint of Vasari, who said that innovation means looking back, updating the past. Because rooms are always rooms, chairs are chairs, tables are tables. It is the vantage point that makes the difference and generates aesthetic tension. In this space there is the memory of the avant-garde: the 1980s of Memphis, the idea of things out of place, of breaking the rules, or unusual arrangements. Surprising details. Like the floor that becomes a ceiling with glossy white and black painted panels with a classic trapezium form, and the ceiling that becomes a floor with gray oak boards. Like the illusion of the game of mirrors, of infinite wardrobes that are oak niches totally clad in mirrors that dilate the space, capturing in their artificial landscapes the screen prints, the hidden lights created with LED technology, the furnishings in bronze formed by small tables of different sizes with vitrines and shelves above.” Rossella Jardini: “Precisely in these games of staggered design, we can find the memory of the philosophy of Franco Moschino, who said there is nothing to invent, because everything is beautiful and even more beautiful if it is in the wrong place. Out of place.” The next steps, in terms of openings and goals? Rossella Jardini: “To adapt, in specific ways, this concept to Milan, on Via della Spiga, and to Shanghai, Moscow, Macao, Abu Dhabi.” Personal thoughts on the meaning of ethics and aesthetics in relation to the world of fashion? Rossella Jardini: “A beautiful shop is inviting. You enter and appreciate its content even more, and it takes on value. And beauty is created with a relaxing, quiet atmosphere, not showy in terms of luxury, materials and special effects. An atmosphere that makes you feel good. For me, aesthetic taste is something you either have or you don’t. Thinking about your clothing is like thinking about your home, the main places we live. In my home there are combinations of many different things, pieces by Gio Ponti and Fornasetti. If you think about it, they might clash with each other, but actually the result is one of harmony, reflecting my personality.” Michele De Lucchi: “As for ethics, I like to underline the fact that though it might seem to go against its nature, fashion is the place where ethics can be observed with the greatest clarity. Because fashion, in its essence, means trends, looking ahead, moving towards the future, with a great drive to evolve. And if that path is without ethics, you won’t get anywhere.”