We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” – Oscar Wilde, writer

Stars are a symbol: a symbol of eternal renaissance. Stars are the symbol of ISABELLA1985. ISABELLA1985 is a made in Italy clothing brand conceived ad created by Michele Lamanna. The project is revamping streetwear paradigms and subverting digital traditional iconography with the power of a true artistic gesture; allowing the ineffable components of image and word to emerge, thus freeing the possibility of interpretation; it is a reflection on the idea of the symbol and its possible effects on an emotive and a psychic plan in a convergence of the real and the virtual. The logo itself represents the desire to smash frameworks, stereotypes, and habitual, logical associations, thus leaving room for doubt, the unsolved, and the mystery of the digital world. Michele is an affirmed digital artist with ten years of experience in the fashion system and graphic design. He deeply rooted reference points in the Japanese and American cinema of the 80s and 90s, just as in the horror films signed by Lamberto Bava, that weave memory and experience till they are indistinguishable, with an infinity of possibilities. We met him some days ago in Milan to speak about the brand, the SS22 collection, and the future…

Hello Michele! When did you approach the fashion world?

Fashion was like a feeling on my skin since I was a little kid, my best friends since childhood were my cousins: they were older than me and from a branch of my family which came from Etiopia and they always had this coolness from the ’80s and ’90s and that fresh cool style closer to African Americans mixed with the first videogames culture. So they always inspired me and that was the first time I saw someone cool. My grandparent founded a dance club in the ’70s, that is still today a reality of clubbing in the South of Italy, so I was lucky to approach the clubbing since I was a kid. I was 9 the first time I put my foot in a dance club and I was so stylish… That “vision” of people with different styles and gender connected to music was a huge approach to fashion.

You are a multitasking boy with a special feeling for 3D art. How do you match fashion and 3D art?

3D art is a passion that I inherited together with films and video games and it is the tool with which I express myself. It is basically a very powerful tool for visualizing things and ideas and express your artistic direction, as it is writing or painting but only instead of having a sheet you have a three-dimensional space like in real life. 3D in my specific case of creating and developing a brand, gave me the tools to create a more complete vision: from a simple graphic to the construction of a whole advertisement, the creative process is to have an idea, build it, animate it in 3d and make it more tangible with the result of an advertising video. On a practical level, being a start-up, gave me the opportunity to think about emotional content and immediately create it with my computer, this is useful now that I do not have the chance of having a staff that takes care to visualize my artistic vision, which I hope will happen soon.

What is ISABELLA1985?

ISABELLA1985 is a fashion brand with a precise exclusive fit, high-quality materials, and high processing development, with a care for details but at the same time a low key appeal that wants to endure the “fashion graphic moment”, made to create a long-lasting product Made in Italy, but it’s also a story and a contemporary project presented with different communication languages than a fashion product.

Why this name?

This name is really important for me, going through this project we will discover who ISABELLA is, I hope, all I can say that this name was perfect for my project because it isn’t connected to something actual, modern, or cool, it’s just a name but really means the world to me.

Who is your ideal audience?

My ideal audience is people who understand the intrinsic language of ISABELLA1985, this product is dedicated to me and to them who, like me, want a modern and well-made product that is contemporary but at the same time not contaminated by graphic poetry that makes you notice miles away.

You have deeply rooted experience points in the Japanese and American cinema of the 80s abs 90s. Is it the same also for ISABELLA1985?

My passion for American and Japanese movie culture is rooted in ISABELLA1985 too, that’s why ISABELLA1985 adv looks more like a tv show than a fashion product advertisement, but most of all it’s a mix of references from the ’80s & ’90s American and Japanese sportswear brands and movies and colors and culture of Southern Italy. I came from a very Catholic reality in southern Italy and since I was a child I heard stories about religion, Devil and God. I think they believed to bring children closer to God and religion through fear, but for me, when the fear passed, they have created a passion for horror movies. In ISABELLA1985 there’s all that mixed together, but in the end, all goes through one final channel which is pain.

Tell us something about the last collection?

For the first season, I wanted to create a standard product that I would love 100 percent. I love high-quality dyed garment and I researched a specific palette of colors that could represent ISABELLA1985, there’s no use of pure white or pure black but instead, you can find asphalt and coconut milk plus 9 exclusive dyed colors between hoodies and t-shirts and the use of the classic pajama stripes, so for the second and new season, I wanted to add more pieces in the collection such as the long shirt and the cargo pants and few accessories like socks, baseball cap, and scarf, in 12 new dyed colors. The use of high-quality cotton treated and dyed and the precise use of soft contrast between the dyed colors and the graphic shade and the use of different shades for the labels attached to every piece create that feeling that you have a simple appeal garment made with the best quality.

Key piece?

They are all key pieces for me, all of them are exactly of the fit I always dreamed of, but if I have to choose, I go for the canvas dyed cargo with detachable legs, the pentagram laser button, and the long shirts. They are like a dream comes true.

According to you, what is really FUCKING YOUNG! today?

Really FUCKNG YOUNG today is to acknowledge sensitivity, empathy, and kindness even through pain and use them to create something, to send a message, a piece of yourself, I think the new generation will make this world better than ours even through Art that is the young fucking power!!!!

Designer: Michele Lamanna
Portraits: Simon
Production: Simona Pavan
Samples by ISABELLA1985