The Power of Communication and Collaboration: In Conversation with Etro's Marco De Vincenzo | Savoir Flair
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The Power of Communication and Collaboration: In Conversation with Etro's Marco De Vincenzo
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by Mimi Droeshout 6-minute read February 21, 2024

Transforming Etro's legacy into a dynamic dialogue between past and future.

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Few designers have managed to weave innovation with tradition as seamlessly as Marco De Vincenzo. At the helm of Etro, a brand synonymous with vibrant patterns and exquisite Italian craftsmanship, De Vincenzo is charting a bold new course for his newest collection — through music and the use of AI. At the core of his philosophy lies a deep appreciation for community and collaboration, intertwined with a thirst for innovation. He sees fashion as a medium through which knowledge is shared, artistic expression is collaborative, and the key to success lies in striking a delicate balance between honoring the past and embracing the future. 

With roots deeply embedded in the rich soil of Italian heritage, Etro has long been celebrated for its distinctive use of paisley, luxurious fabrics, and intricate designs. By stepping into this legacy, De Vincenzo understood the delicate balance between preserving the brand's essence and injecting fresh energy. His approach isn't about radical change but evolution, respecting Etro's history, and recognizing that the brand's identity is its greatest asset.

He treats the brand's archives not as museums to be preserved in amber but as living, breathing sources of inspiration that can inform the future. “Etro is famous for paisley, but paisley isn't enough to build a story,” he shares in an interview with Savoir Flair last week, ahead of his sophomore collection showing on the runway in Milan later today. “We smile all the time, me and my team, because sometimes we think we would like a black coat, please — just a black coat and nothing else. So, I’m trying to use other patterns that belong to that aesthetic without being paisley. Every coat is a treasure and a limit at the same time.” 

"I found another young singer living in Bologna, who made a beautiful original soundtrack that I'll be using for the show." 

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This respect for the past and an unerring eye for the future allow De Vincenzo to create collections that are at once familiar and groundbreaking.

Music, an ever-present muse in any journey, plays a pivotal role in his work. De Vincenzo shares, “When we design, when we sketch, and when we work on new collections, we’re always listening to music.” This philosophy extended to Milan's Nowhere runway collection, where De Vincenzo leveraged music as a dynamic platform for artists, offering them global exposure. “A fashion show is now so important because it's not only for those who are at the venue but also for those connected through Instagram. It’s an important stage. In 15 minutes, everybody knows something about you and about the musicians now.” 

For the show, he crafted an original soundtrack with a young Sicilian band, Santa Marea. “They were excited because they needed visibility, and I needed an original soundtrack,” he confesses. This approach not only breaks barriers between fashion and other art forms but also cultivates unity and a shared vision. De Vincenzo reflects on the importance of fostering relationships with young musicians, saying, “I told myself after last season I have to go on to build a relationship between the brand and young musicians. It's my second show with an original soundtrack, and now it's nice because young singers and writers in Italy know that Etro is pushing to give visibility to someone who hasn't had any visibility yet.” This embodiment of the belief in community over competition ensures every contributor, from every thread to every note, receives equal recognition. Throughout our conversation, it was impossible not to observe De Vincenzo's consistent use of “we” when referring to the achievements of his team and himself, underscoring a deep-seated sense of collective effort and accomplishment.

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"In our world of AI, we created rooms that are beautiful, and set up in a way that we couldn't recreate in reality." 

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Seeing the future of Etro as an amalgamation of technology and tradition — where digital innovation serves not just as a tool for creation but also as a medium for storytelling — De Vincenzo's vision remains forward-thinking. For instance, Etro's Spring/Summer 2024 campaign vividly brings this vision to life through AI and collaboration with digital artist and prompt designer Silvia Badalotti — an experiment that was important to him on many levels. He belongs to a generation who knows that the world was different before the digital revolution. De Vincenzo notes, “The risk we take is to feel nostalgic, and to think that the world was better before technology, to think that it is destroying the human touch.” De Vincenzo met up with Badalotti every ten days to discuss and develop the prompts further for the campaign. 

Unlike the fast-paced nature of traditional campaigns, De Vincenzo and Badalotti's meetings offered a chance to craft their vision meticulously, infusing the campaign with unprecedented depth. “I never worked as closely with a photographer for a previous campaign, as much as I worked with Sylvia on this one,” he said. “We talked, and we were human, sometimes you don’t take time to talk about the story.” Through time spent with Badalotti, they duo harnessed AI to craft a series of scenes that are unlike any other campaign he has shot. “Her process was very human, and she was looking for something representative of her world and representative of my world. I said to her it was the most human campaign I had ever done because our mind and our feelings were the most important tool.” 

The experience showed him the artistic side of AI. The machine needed that human touch and point of view to create something they were very proud of — an approach that marks a departure from the norm but showcases the power of collaboration and conversation, in whatever form it may be, to bring his creative vision to life.

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