It is a truth about the world we live in that only in recent decades has the fashion industry embraced more leadership by female fashion designers, especially in Italy, which few associated with female designers beyond Miuccia Prada. Alessandra Facchinetti is an influential factor in the evolution of it all. In February of 2013, Tod’s named Facchinetti to the position of Creative Head, a move that has proven only good things for both the brand and the designer. She is among a growing number of women that helm high-profile luxury goods companies, and the fresh injection of her talent and insight is precisely what Tod’s needed to evolve and expand. Facchinetti’s pedigree is impeccable, having been Tom Ford’s successor at Gucci, Valentino Garavani’s successor at Valentino, and, until recently, Creative Director at Uniqueness. Facchinetti embodies the “Made in Italy” promise that sets Tod’s apart from the competition, and her designs bring freshness and continuity to the brand’s identity as it expands into ready-to-wear under her direction. We enjoyed a few moments with the most talked-about designer of Milan Fashion Week in order to better understand her history, her thoughts on her new position, and her plans for Tod’s going into the future.
When did your passion for design begin?
As a teenager, I was thinking more of becoming an architect or a sculptor, but after attending the Istituto Marangoni in Milan I decided to become a fashion designer.
What was your reaction when you were offered the job at Tod’s?
As an Italian designer, I feel very honored to take up such an important role for a brand that – with the highest quality and refinement – helps to keep up the prestige of “Made in Italy” around the world.
How much freedom were you given at the helm of Tod’s?
Talking with Mr. Della Valle led to mutual trust and a common vision of the Tod’s project. I’m free to do my creative job, but the most important thing is that I feel very close to the Tod’s DNA and the values that the brand represents.
How do you plan to keep to Tod’s established brand DNA while bringing your own design flavor to the equation? What is the spirit of Tod’s as defined by Alessandra Facchinetti?
The spirit of the Tod’s DNA is a contemporary way to be timeless and quality-oriented. Of course, you can’t forget the brand DNA while you’re talking about timeless style, but I’ve added feminine details and crafting to this equation. The result is a woman who appreciates real elegance, without overstating, and you can see this in all the pieces. For example, the new Tod’s ‘Gommino’, the most important and iconic piece of the brand, has a new twist for SS14 with fringes, all the while maintaining the same level of refined luxury and craftsmanship that are part of the history of the brand. The new ‘D-Cube’, which is cube-shaped, is the natural evolution of the ‘D-Bag’, the most famous Tod’s bag and one of the most timeless designs ever. Regarding ready-to-wear, I matched the art of leather craftsmanship that is a Tod’s signature with natural cotton, with the idea in mind of creating a recognizable tactile design identity for these pieces.
You occupy an unusual demographic for the designer of a major Italian luxury goods company: you are both young and female. Have you encountered any obstacles as a result of this?
Thankfully not that many, to be very honest. I’m very proud to occupy this position in one of the major Italian luxury brands, one that represents the essence of Italian style and craftsmanship.
What are you hoping to get across through your collections for Tod’s?
What I want to communicate with my collection for Tod’s is a truly contemporary Italian lifestyle that is timeless and quality-oriented.
Your presentation style at Milan Fashion Week differs quite a bit from other brands. What are you trying to achieve with it?
The idea of “Italian Set” is to represent a total lifestyle that we observe as guests in someone’s home. A home open to art, illuminated by a vivid modernism of unmistakable Italian tradition. A place where great classics emerge from the walls to the wardrobe, reworked in a timeless dimension.
The Tod’s accessories line is already incredibly popular in the Middle East. What do you hope the response here will be to ready-to-wear? Do you feel it is a good match for the region?
So far the ready-to-wear collection is available only in fifteen selected Tod’s boutiques worldwide and not yet in the Middle East, but women from the Middle East travel a lot and the response we’ve had from them so far in our boutiques in Milan, Paris, and London has been very positive.
What’s on the horizon for both yourself and the Tod’s brand?
To work together for many years enhancing the Italian lifestyle of Tod’s, and to be contemporary and timeless ambassadors of the “Made in Italy” label and high quality around the world.
Photographed by Boo George – Streeters London for Tod’s