Be­hind the scenes with Tod’s cre­ative di­rec­tor.

Alessan­dra Facchinetti is rein­vent­ing Tod’s, one pair of flats at a time.

ELLE (Canada) - - News - By Luisa Si­mon­etto

alessan­dra Facchinetti greets me at her Mi­lan of­fice, an ap­pro­pri­ately luxe HQ housed in the up­per floors of a palazzo com­plete with book-lined walls, mod­ern art can­vases and bursts of red pe­onies. Facchinetti, 42, re­cently showed her fall/winter 2014 Tod’s col­lec­tion— her se­cond for the sto­ried Ital­ian house—and the de­signer is in a re­flec­tive mood. “Tod’s is part of our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness,” she muses, ad­just­ing her an­tique chan­de­lier ear­rings. “It evokes what it means to be Ital­ian— Ital­ian taste.” Ital­ian taste hap­pens to be a sub­ject on which she is par­tic­u­larly well versed. Born in Berg­amo, north of Mi­lan, Facchinetti is a fash­ion vet­eran, hav­ing worked for Miu Miu, Gucci and Valentino be­fore as­sum­ing de­sign du­ties at Tod’s last fall. (Derek Lam de­signed Tod’s wom­enswear from 2006 to 2012, but un­til Facchinetti took the reins, it was known mostly for its ac­ces­sories.) Facchinetti’s job is to es­tab­lish the ready-to-wear line as a mod­ern fash­ion force or, as she puts it, to cap­ture the spirit of “today’s el­e­gance.” Here, the de­signer talks in­spi­ra­tion, in­vest­ment dress­ing and what it means to be the boss. What is your ear­li­est fash­ion mem­ory? “A type of fem­i­nin­ity, an at­ti­tude, a way to wear your makeup and jew­ellery. I’ve al­ways been cu­ri­ous about the way peo­ple act, which led me to the world of fash­ion. When I started think­ing about mak­ing a job of it, my most au­then­tic mo­ti­va­tion was the al­lure that some women know how to con­jure.” How much free­dom did you have to de­velop Tod’s? “There was no his­tory, no archives— only a per­cep­tion: the de­sire for prac­ti­cal­ity, a search for clas­sic com­fort. I started work­ing on the ac­ces­sories, which is where the brand’s DNA is most deeply rooted. I imag­ined dress­ing a woman af­ter first look­ing at her shoes, her bag—not a bad ex­er­cise. The fact that we like to imagine her in low heels helped de­fine her at­ti­tude. Slowly, the Tod’s woman took shape.” What do you find in­trigu­ing about flats? “Even though I love heels, for a few years I’ve found that flats are much more el­e­gant, in­clud­ing with evening­wear. It’s as if a look is made new when matched with low heels. It’s the idea of beauty as re­moval—in cer­tain cases, it’s best to take a lit­tle some­thing away.” Your fall/winter 2014 start­ing point was the idea of fur­nish­ing a house, room by room. “I started with paint­ings by Bol­dini and Sar­gent, por­traits of women in up­per-class in­te­ri­ors. I en­joyed in­vent­ing a di­a­logue be­tween present and past—if there’s no link to the past, I don’t have a start­ing place for my thoughts. Clothes

tell sto­ries, as if they were so many por­traits—a di­a­logue among a thou­sand women in a sin­gle in­te­rior. We also fo­cused a lot of at­ten­tion on the ac­ces­sories, which are rich and tai­lored while still pro­vid­ing ul­tra-com­fort.” What’s your team like, and what kind of boss are you? “There are 25 of us, mostly women. Not be­cause we don’t want men; it just turned out that way. ‘Boss’ is a pretty big word. I en­joy a great re­la­tion­ship with ev­ery­one. There is no hi­er­ar­chy, es­pe­cially when we’re sit­ting around a ta­ble. I en­cour­age the oth­ers to say what they think, and I’m not of­fended if some­one says ‘That’s hideous; I don’t like it.’ I also talk things over with a cou­ple of close, trusted friends. The point of view of some­one on the out­side—that’s sin­cere; some­one who fol­lows fash­ion and buys it—that’s cru­cial.” What is your vi­sion for the brand? “I want to fo­cus on just a few pieces, the ones that I al­ways want to wear. You can feel the pieces, touch them in the present, but they’re des­tined to have a place in your wardrobe for a long time to come. The only thing that mat­ters is cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful things without nec­es­sar­ily fol­low­ing trends.” What drives you dur­ing the de­sign process? “I try to de­ter­mine whether what I’m work­ing on has more than one use, like the laser-cut leather shirt, which can be worn for evening or in the of­fice. I use the same thought process when I go shop­ping for my­self: Can I wear this in at least three dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions? Today’s shop­pers de­mand this kind of po­ten­tial.” Do you rely on a muse? “I used to need an iconic woman as a ref­er­ence when sketch­ing. Today, less so. I get bet­ter in­spi­ra­tion from a sen­sa­tion—an en­ergy that’s more com­plete and pro­found than a beau­ti­ful face hang­ing on the wall. The ten­dency is to re­cy­cle women from the past. But any pretty girl I hap­pen to meet on the street might sud­denly be­come an icon for me. Even if I never see her again....” ■

High­light reel: our five favourite fall/winter 2014 Tod’s looks

Alessan­dra Facchinetti

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