Almanac of Contemporary Aesthetics
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MAGLIANOwordsbyCarlottaManeschi

Established in Bologna in 2016, Magliano is a menswear brand challenging conventions of Italian tailoring by playing with folklore and subcultures.

At a time when contemporary Italian fashion seems to be at something of a standstill, Magliano is contributing to a much more enticing and captivating scene for menswear. Luca Magliano, the mind behind the self-titled brand, crafts contemporary tailoring that discerns everyday dimensions but favors escapist narratives. Established in 2016, the brand draws from a multitude of references, often listed in the collections’ handsomely written, manifesto-like press releases—from monsters to literature, from ‘90s yuppies to Greek mythology. Bologna, Magliano’s birth place, has played a key role in the brand’s evolution, renowned for being a land of political revolutions, home to a fervent scene of subcultures, cultural cradle to a legacy of intellectuals, and a tortellini paradise—all of which is now slowly disappearing in the arms of gentrification (tortellini excluded).

Running off the scent of this once-mythical place, Bologna resonates through Magliano’s designs to represent, in a broader sense, the folklore of the “province” all around the world. This fascination for the territorial spirit is very much kept alive in the creative process, enacted by a trusted net of friends and collaborators that contribute to the brand’s unorthodox, often ingenious art direction. Previous campaigns have been shot in an old Fiat in a rural landscape; against tacky high school portrait backdrops; and, for their SS20 lookbook, on the beaches of Santa Marta, Colombia.

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Most recently, for their AW20 show, two jam-filled biscuits, vacuumed onto a classic white confectionery tray warning eat at your own risk, invited you to Euro Jolly, the iconic Milanese billiards room. Smoke filled the room as people crowded around the two rows of blue felt tables. Models paced down the makeshift runway, with actor Toni Pandolfo, Magliano’s most famed face, carrying two flutes of uncannily colored beverages, duct taped on a cabaret tray. The evocative, sensorial descriptions of Pier Vittorio Tondelli’s tales of outcasts resonate through the decadent proportions, off-the-shoulder jackets and theatrical white face powder to evoke the alluring darkness of nightlife. It’s a collection for “curing the delirium caused by dream,” for a man who transcends trends, or just doesn’t really care for them. When asked about the process behind this creative metamorphosis from poetics to design, Luca explains, “The main part of the job lays in constructing the imaginary inventory, the magical place where one might find answers to the questions of design. The wider and more layered the research, the more poetically effective the answers will be. In our case, this catalog needs to be compiled in a scientific manner, still following a sort of analog, or even sensorial, reasoning. These signifiers, often in intrinsic disagreement, have to clash with our very precise work ethos, that of the wardrobe fundamentals. This process is done ruthlessly, in a surgical manner, with a necessary dose of irony and humor, without fear of the ridiculous.”

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In only four years, the brand has shown a folkloristic side of Italian fashion without being a caricature of itself. A carefully crafted nod to the ever-recurring fashion of the ‘80s, a period the designer refers to as the “Humanism of the 20th Century,” makes a refreshing addition to the busy Milan runway schedule. The designs also feature a very British take on tailoring and contemporary style, an aesthetic that’s been resonating through London’s fashion scene for a the better part of the 2010s with the designs of Martine Rose and others: a modern, Italian translation of the appeal of mending, salvaging, reusing; a punk approach to the skinhead/rude boy look that’s been trickling down since the late 1960s. Like Tondelli’s monologues, the ethos and designs of the brand live to signify a plural subjectivity in which multiple voices and references speak to a generation “orphaned” of a certain kind of fragile intellectual that we should try to reconnect with. This is dystopian and unconventional tailoring that reinvents classic wardrobe pieces and might just be what we need in these daunting, slightly apocalyptic times.

Photo credit: Rosario Rex Di Salvo

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