We at YUGEN are proud to announce another addition to our platform: Salvatore Vignola. We love Salvatore's expressive styling and unique fashion voice, and are thrilled to launch his SS20 collection, 1994
This up-and-coming Italian designer’s eponymous brand was founded in 2016 and, having been featured at Milan Fashion Week and in high-profile publications like Vogue Italia and L’Officiel, has already begun to make a mark on the fashion world. Salvatore prioritises high-quality craftsmanship to deliver distinct, conceptual collections. Identifying the brand as sports-couture, there a clear balance between luxury and performance, indicative of the designer’s strong feminist values. His style is avant-garde and fantastical but is still very trend-conscious. We are huge admirers of this brand and are grateful for the opportunity to share Salvatore’s work and story with you.
Salvatore's fashion journey began with one of the most infamous moments of the industry’s history: the death of Gianni Versace. When Versace was tragically killed in 1997, the press coverage brought the world of fashion to the attention of then 6-year-old Salvatore. Versace, this famous son of Italy, would also become an indelible influence upon Salvatore's design style - which can be seen through the importance of the feminine figure and the influence of mythology and southern Italian culture. Other designers that have had a significant effect on Salvatore’s vision are Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Elsa Schiaparelli and John Galliano.
Salvatore’s approach to design is rooted in methodical research, a call back to his academic background; he attended the Art Institute of Potenza where he studied Architecture and Interior Design and then went on to major in Fashion Design at NABA (New Academy of Fine Arts) in Milan. Salvatore takes a lot of inspiration from other art forms, and the Bauhaus architectural style has a major impact on his work. The school’s philosophy of combining aesthetics with everyday function is reflected in the wearability of Salvatore’s work - design is never compromised, but the brand’s pieces are perfect for a modern woman who operates in the world with style and purpose. Responsibility is incredibly vital to the Salvatore Vignola brand, using innovative materials like hemp denim and soy tulle along with traditional precious fabrics, which solidifies its identity as a truly modern luxury brand.
The practical elements of Salvatore’s design are not his sole distinguishing features as a designer. All of his collections are also built on strong narrative concepts.
“Everyone has their own planning process. I’m glad my own is clear. I always start writing a story with historical, magical, mythological references and when I ended it I already know how I want to narrate it” - Salvatore Vignola in an interview with Annarosa Laureti for Collectible DRY
One major motif in Salvatore’s collections is duality. The designer says he is drawn to contradictions because they lead to the unexpected. Fittingly his pieces often play with gender; they are designed to celebrate the female form but take inspiration from traditionally masculine styles - miniskirts and sheath dresses are reimagined to reference menswear staples. Gender roles also serve as thematic concepts for Salvatore’s collections: for the Teatro al Mucchio SS19 collection and its “second chapter” Brigantessa 2.0. Using imagery of graceful women against a savage landscape, these collections draw on the history of women in Salvatore’s native Basilicata. Dyads of strength/fragility, civilisation/wilderness, and gentleness/brutality being used to beautifully render female independence exterior to man’s world.
Salvatore Vignola - AW19
The mythos of the designer’s home and the culture of Lucanian people that live there is another recurrent element of the Salvatore Vignola brand identity, and one that marks it as a truly unique offering in the fashion industry. This sensibility was evident in his work since before the foundation of the eponymous brand; he developed a project about witchcraft and paganism in 1900s Lucania while at NABA. This is also indicative of Salvatore’s interest in the fantastical, in the beauty of the supernatural. In an interview for Studio Rotto, the designer described the ‘woman’ he designs for as a “fairy, wife, mermaid or princess”, revealing how in creative vision, fantasy and reality.
This juxtaposition is undoubtedly present for Salvatore’s SS20 collection, 1994, which will be the first of his to be featured on the YUGEN platform. Out of the four possible identities of the muse behind the designs, 1994 portrays her as the mermaid. The inspiration comes from a series of coincidences from when Salvatore was three-years-old that submerged him in the magic of the ocean. From the dreams of a child learning to swim of searching for pink-haired mermaids and underwater castles to the construction of the Channel Tunnel, it seemed that everything brought Salvatore back to the sea. The collection is a remembrance of that time, a celebration of aquatic beauty and a commentary on man’s interaction with the ocean, both positive and negative.
1994 draws on the different styles of the 90s as it contrasts loose flowing dresses and shirts with skintight sportswear-inspired pieces with dramatically structured shoulders. Colours are also juxtaposed, there are vibrant greens, purples and blues set against simpler garments in softer blue, black, white or pale nude tones. These contrasts once again bring Salvatore’s love for duality, demonstrating the vast number of the associations the ocean brings - it is both serenity and tumult. In the collection, we see the fantasy and beauty of the aquatic world: the recurring motifs of a scallop shell and pearls remind us of natural splendour while also bringing to mind the archetypical imagery of the mermaid myth. However, there are also darker themes within 1994. With fringe detailing that has a shredded appearance and sheer black pieces, there is a reminder of how man has damaged life in the ocean - oil spills and the threat of waste pollution to sea life loom large. There is also a rebelliousness to the collection, a punk aesthetic (primarily through the acid wash denim) that perhaps reflects Salvatore’s call to action to protect oceanic beauty.
Salvatore Vignola - SS20
But, throughout all of these highly conceptual design ideas, this collection is still very wearable. Salvatore delivers on his promise of balancing aesthetic with practicality as well as maintaining an awareness of trends. The pieces of this collection can easily be translated into a modern, stylish wardrobe; perfect for the unapologetic individual, the iconoclast. It’s for these reasons that we are so thrilled to welcome Salvatore Vignola to YUGEN, and we’re certain you’ll fall in love with his designs as much as we have.
by Jonny McKinnell