Valentino-approved Fashion Brand Act N.1 gears up for Spring 2023 show – WWD

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MILAN — Being endorsed by an established fashion house of Valentino’s size and reputation comes with a generous dose of pressure.

Yet speaking with Galib Gassanoff and Luca Lin – whose Act N.1 label has been selected by the Roman company as the emerging brand to support this season – it’s clear what could be a source of anxiety is more like a healthy adrenaline rush. Valentino will offer its Instagram platform to designers for a livestream of the spring show, which will be held in Milan on Thursday.

Reached by phone three days before the event, the designer duo were running for fittings but kept their composure when discussing what the initiative means for the brand and what to expect from the upcoming collection.

“Compared to previous times, of course there is more pressure, but pressure that encourages us to do even better and push ourselves even further by presenting a stronger collection,” Lin said.

As announced, Act N.1 will take over from Marco Rambaldi to grab the attention of social media and Valentino’s 17.2 million followers during this edition of Milan Fashion Week. The initiative launched by the Roman brand with the Italian Fashion Chamber began in February, when the first contact between Maison Valentino and Act N.1 was also established.

“They got in touch three days before our previous show, when we were casting. So it was also an injection of energy for this show because in our most hectic time, in the midst of work and sleepless nights, we received such news and were extremely happy,” Lin recalled.

When presenting the initiative last year, Maison Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli said the aim was to offer young designers the opportunity to use the brand’s social platform. “as a stage to expand their work and message” and that talents “whose sensibility resonates with our core identity values” would be addressed.

Created in 2016, Act N.1 is synonymous with inclusivity and a personal, multicultural vision of fashion, with its collections blending a flair for deconstructed tailoring, theatricality and stylistic influences from the founders’ own backgrounds, as Lin is half-Chinese and Gassanoff was born in Azerbaijan but raised in Georgia.

A preview of a look from the Act N.1 Spring 2023 collection, which will be unveiled on September 22, 2022 in Milan.

The Spring 2023 collection will continue to build on these pillars, with Gassanoff pointing out that the creative process has been business as usual. The Valentino house “gave us complete freedom of expression and no limits,” he explained.

“Because that’s the whole point: Pierpaolo chose us for the work we do and what we present, so it was important to keep that freedom,” echoed Lin.

At the time of the announcement, Piccioli described the duo’s work as “light and deep as the gaze of any young designer should be and perhaps like that of all of us”.

Freedom and self-expression are at the heart of the message that Act N.1 aims to disseminate. The brand has explored different social themes in its collections over the years, from raising awareness of women’s rights to highlighting minorities and subcultures.

“At first, we were a bit afraid to approach these topics like we do now, because we were concerned about how they would have been perceived,” Lin said. “But now we are much more confident in continuing on our path.”

For spring 2023, the duo will explore the different characters within each person “because everyone wears kinds of masks depending on different occasions,” Lin said, adding that the historical tradition of Chinese opera will be referenced. in this investigation and, more pragmatically, it will be nodded in the main prints and cuts that will appear on the garments.

Their experimental approach frequently results in hybrid styles patching different pieces into one, a juxtaposition of masculine and feminine elements and a play on deconstructed silhouettes.

“There will also be quilts and style tricks in this collection, via frayed denim patches, and an exaggeration of the military theme on jeans and tulle, which is one of our staple fabrics,” said Gassanoff.

Indeed, the brand is best known for its dramatic and maximalist tulle pieces and their cross-pollination with couture and Gassanoff assured that this collection will have its fair share of these as designers apply the finishing touches to “pieces structures and looks in different volumes”. “, ready to show their skills.

Act N.1 RTW Spring 2022

Courtesy of Act N.1

This season, the duo will present their first collection of women’s shoes, after some experimentation with co-branding. These will include flats and mostly high-heeled models “with a particular, very graphic shape” and featuring “some elements that we use a lot in our collections,” Lin said, declining to reveal more.

A collaboration with Casio will also make its catwalk debut, with watches from the Japanese brand appearing on select pieces. Along with the rest of the looks, these will be paraded in a basic configuration, meant to make clothes shine, while some accessories will appear here and there to mimic the feel of being behind the scenes.

When it comes to casting, from the start of their fashion journey, Gassanoff and Lin have promoted inclusivity, sending different body types and models to the runway ranging from mature women to young children. This approach constitutes another value shared with Maison Valentino.

“Over the past few years, we’ve bonded with different people who were also connected to the Valentino story,” Gassanoff observed, citing model Elisabetta Dessy as an example.

Model Elisabetta Dessy at the Act N.1 RTW Fall 2022 fashion show.

Aitor Rosas/WWD

“She was a model for Valentino in the 1970s and we worked with her for three years, when she was no longer a model,” Gassanoff recalls. “We loved the idea of ​​having her in our cast and we really love her personality, the character she gives to our shows and videos. It was like a rediscovery for us. And then we only discovered the historical link she has with Valentino and the personal link with Pierpaolo only recently, after the brand’s last couture show in Rome.

Debuting at Milan Fashion Week in 2018 with the Spring 2019 collection, Act N.1 has been part of the city’s schedule ever since, showcasing collections both via physical shows and concept digital formats during the pandemic.

The Italian fashion association has also backed the brand, which has received two years in a row of grants from the Camera Moda Fashion Trust, the non-profit organization created in 2017 to help young Italian talents grow their businesses with a financial assistance, as well as business mentoring and tutoring programs.

Galib Gassanoff and Luca Lin of Act N.1 with a model wearing a look from the brand’s Fall 2022 collection.

Courtesy of Camera Moda Fashion Trust

Act N.1 is available through international retailers including Selfridges in London, Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong, as well as Sita 1910, Ant/Dote and Forty Five Ten in the United States. Asia represents an important market with more than 20 retailers in mainland China.

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