Rank and file

Mil­i­tary wear lives to fight an­other day for An­drea Rosso

Wallpaper - - September - Pho­tog­ra­phy: Al­berto Zanetti writer: DAL Chodha

An­drea Rosso’s mar­tial lore

Frag­ments of mil­i­tary de­sign are ev­ery­where. The bomber jacket be­came stan­dard is­sue for the US Air Corps in 1931, long be­fore it was a ba­sic item in men’s wardrobes. The pea­coat was made pop­u­lar by the Dutch navy more than three cen­turies ago and cargo pants were re­port­edly first worn in the late 1930s by Bri­tish mil­i­tary per­son­nel. Epaulettes, deep pock­ets, khaki green, dis­tressed heavy-weight cot­tons, parka jack­ets – all borne of the bat­tle­field.

In the mid-1990s, icon­o­clasts such as Hel­mut Lang and Mar­tin Margiela favoured util­i­tar­ian, mil­i­tary de­tails for their col­lec­tions and army sur­plus be­came a streetwear favourite. An­drea Rosso bought and wore sec­ond-hand army clothes in the 1990s too. But un­like the rest of us – and as the son of Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel and the OTB Group (which to­day in­cludes la­bels such as Maison Margiela, Marni and Vik­tor&rolf ) – his in­ter­est went a lit­tle deeper.

An­drea has served as creative di­rec­tor for Diesel’s li­cences since 2014: ‘Work­ing at Diesel I have be­come pas­sion­ate about cloth­ing, and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. I come from a very tech­ni­cal school – I don’t come from de­sign,’ he says. ‘I don’t ac­tu­ally know how to de­sign or draw, but I like the pro­duc­tion and tech­ni­cal as­pects of how things work. It is in my blood.’

In 1994, An­drea founded 55DSL – the spunkier, younger brother to his fa­ther’s ca­su­al­wear ti­tan (he is also be­hind the brand’s in­te­ri­ors off­shoot). To­day he’s work­ing on a line of restyled vin­tage mil­i­tary clothes pro­duced un­der the name Myar (an ana­gram of ‘army’, as well as the ini­tials of its ami­able founder) – a per­sonal project he be­gan in 2015, away from the glare and big-gear machi­na­tions of the fam­ily busi­ness: ‘I grew up in­side Diesel,’ he says. ‘A big com­pany has com­pletely dif­fer­ent needs com­pared to a small start-up. I like the fact that I took my own de­ci­sions on things. When you have noth­ing, it’s so beau­ti­ful to cre­ate some­thing.’

Plenty of de­sign in­no­va­tion has come from the mil­i­tary. Even the mo­bile phone net­work we rely on so heav­ily was de­signed for se­cure and re­li­able com­mu­ni­ca­tion across bat­tle­fields. ‘In terms of cloth­ing, func­tion­al­ity is very im­por­tant,’ An­drea says. ‘The anatomy of the body has been stud­ied very well and of course the ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion of where the clothes will be used is ex­am­ined too.’ His first

‘Each uni­form has its own sil­hou­ette. In terms of a sar­to­rial look, the English uni­forms are the best’

ex­pe­ri­ence of these clothes came aged 16 on a re­search trip with the then creative di­rec­tor of Diesel. Trav­el­ling as widely as Mon­treal and LA, New York and Tokyo opened his eyes to a new way of buy­ing.

Myar takes orig­i­nal pieces and gives them a new util­ity. His team browse sec­ond-hand ware­houses, mainly in Eng­land, the USA and Italy, where they can of­ten find hun­dreds of the same style in one place. De­spite the deal­ers with their or­gan­ised rails try­ing to sec­ond-guess what Rosso might be look­ing for, his eye is al­ways drawn to the piles on the floor.

‘I am very cu­ri­ous. If there is a pile of a hun­dred pieces, I like to look at the one be­hind it be­cause maybe there is some­thing else.’ The stu­dio stud­ies ev­ery gar­ment, ei­ther up­dat­ing the pro­por­tions for the Orig­i­nale line or us­ing dead-stock fab­ric to make street-smart ready-to-wear un­der the Collezione la­bel, which launched this year. Each uni­form, Rosso says, has its own sil­hou­ette, its own je ne sais quoi. ‘In terms of a sar­to­rial look, the English uni­forms are the best. They’ve been stud­ied very well in terms of con­struc­tion,’ he says. ‘I like the English cut.’ Its more tai­lored ap­proach might very well ap­peal to his Ital­ian

sprez­zatura. ‘I’m not against the “fu­ture look”, but some­how I al­ways find the most beau­ti­ful things are from the past. Like what my grand­mother used to stitch, or the mis­takes on cloth­ing made by hand.’

That ir­reg­u­lar­ity be­tween one piece and an­other is the op­po­site of the per­fectly mass-made, in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion with which Rosso is so fa­mil­iar. ‘There are lots of mil­i­tary clothes just sit­ting in ware­houses to­tally un­used, but there is a beauty to the de­sign, de­spite the neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions. I like to bring this beauty out again by hav­ing peo­ple wear it on the streets,’ he says. ‘This is a mod­ern way to see clas­sic.’

An­drea rosso At 247show­room in mi­lan, where the de­signer show­cased his de­but ready-to-wear myar col­lec­tion in June

A bri­tish Royal Air Force har­ness dat­ing from the 1980s this rare Swiss Army blue wool coat dates from the 1950s this US 2nd Ar­mored Divi­sion jacket with a tri­an­gu­lar ‘hell on wheels’ patch on the sleeve ap­peals to Rosso’s love of graphic de­sign Some...

1950s Ja­panese case 1940-50s Ja­panese book on Pearl Har­bor Ja­panese book on mil­i­tary air­craft Swiss Army am­bu­lance toy 1970s French com­mando res­cue rub­ber vest Ja­panese books on mil­i­tary air­craft Rosso’s col­lec­tion of mil­i­tary ephemera spans more than...

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