All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

Interview: Fabriano Fabbri

The Italian professor takes a phenomenological approach to contemporary fashion in his bilingual book

by Paolo Ferrarini
on 31 July 2013
fabriano-fabbri-orizzonte-cover1.jpg

If we exclude photographic books and classic essays, it's difficult to find a truly interesting publication about fashion. This is not the case with "L'orizzonte degli Eventi," or "The Event Horizon," recently written by professor Fabriano Fabbri and published (in Italian and English) by Atlante. As the subtitle suggests, the book analyzes "fashion styles from the '60s to today" and in the process the author succeeds in creating a new language for describing clothing, accessories and the related cultural phenomena. Some words are so common in fashion studies that they've become obvious and obsolete—minimalism, pop, baroque are all missing in this book, or they're treated in an irreverent way and used to create neologisms.

In Fabbri's eyes, fashion is nothing but "a pure concentration of fantasy that speaks of our relationship with reality" and "a curious and beneficial voracious black hole." In order to observe fashion from an alternative yet credible point of view, he chose to consider designers exactly as artists, as creatives in the purest meaning. In this approach, fashion designers are divided in two almost epic groups: If the first group seeks Beauty—through harmony, proportions, elegance; the second is in search for the Beast—namely asymmetries, imperfection, imbalance.

FabrianoFabbri-1.jpg FabrianoFabbri-2.jpg

The impressive result is the ability to read fashion beyond seasonal trends. By focusing on the raw substance of styles rather than the commercial side, Fabbri shows the real relationship between clothing and contemporary culture.

Fabriano Fabbri was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

Why did you choose this title for a book about the recent history of fashion?

The "event horizon" is the boundary of a black hole; an astrophysics phenomenon in which matter becomes incredibly dense and concentrated. To me it works pretty well to track down the density of fashion as a cultural field in which you can find references to any type of nowadays aesthetic expressions. Starting from fashion as a concentrated cultural object, you can actually identify uncountable connections to movies, philosophy, industrial design, video games and art.

orizzonte-degli-eventi-2.jpg
This book is so strong and passionate that it feels like it was born from a true necessity. Which one?

I've led a Second Level Fashion Degree at the University of Bologna for years. For my didactical purpose, I couldn't find any book based on phenomenological approach to fashion—a discipline which is mainly taught through history or sociology. So I wrote the missing book myself. My main eduction and my main subject has always been contemporary art. Why not use the interpretational categories of contemporary art for fashion as well? These two worlds work, adapt and interact perfectly.

FabrianoFabbri-8.jpg FabrianoFabbri-7.jpg
You talk about the "big ones" of fashion, but you also give space to the forgotten ones and to emerging designers. Would you suggest some new names that are defining new paths for fashion?

We have to specify what we consider to be a "new path." Since I'm deeply convinced of rebounding generational schemes, I cannot really say that designers ever produce anything brand new. For example, all those who are born "around" the even decades (1940, 1960, 1980) tend to be very experimental and brutal, on the other hand those who are born "around" the odd decades (1930, 1950, 1970) demonstrate a closer relationship to the history of fashion and to the past in general.

FabrianoFabbri-3.jpg FabrianoFabbri-4.jpg

Take Alexander McQueen, born "around 1970" (precisely in 1969)—he is a great experimenter for sure, although his works are always deeply linked to the history of culture. Vice versa, Boris Bidjan Saberi—whom I consider to be one of the most talented designers together with Issei Fujita of Lumen et Umbra—is born "around 1980," in 1978—the same year as Fujita himself. These are the setters of a new path, yet there's indeed nothing totally new in their clothing. They normalize and diffuse the fashion of Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and then Rick Owens, and Carol Christian Poell. In Italy, I’d name Fausto Puglisi, Leitmotiv, Guidi, A1923, Poème Bohémien, Cinzia Araia and a few others.

FabrianoFabbri-6.jpg FabrianoFabbri-5.jpg
You have been able to define a new language to talk about fashion—taking inspiration from comics, music, science and, of course, history of the arts. Can language be the right instrument to define a fashion for the future?

As a matter of didactical instrument, there's no other mean out of language. Sophisticated, even philosophical, but always understandable. Unfortunately, in too many cases and for too many years fashion has undergone superficial and gossiping approaches. It is necessary to give back to fashion its real value, to analyze its products, exactly as you could approach a novel or a piece of art. So language matters. My personal treatment on language draws inspiration from high and low culture, that corresponds to the way I'd like students to deal with aesthetic phenomena as a whole.

"L'orizzonte degli Eventi" is now available from Amazon for $40.

Images courtesy of the publisher

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things
Loading More...