Maria Francesca Pepe, a London based Italian designer, has managed to merge the best of those two worlds. Inspired by British avant-garde and realised by Italian artisans, her jewellery is a contrast of bold, sharp and geometric designs, combined with a touch of romanticism. After completing her BA in Fashion Design at the Instituto Marangoni in Milan, she moved to St Martins to accomplish her Masters in womenswear. Since founding her label in 2007 she’s worked with everyone from Topshop and Roksanda Ilincic to Lady Gaga and now we find out what’s next for the designer.
HAVING STUDIED WOMENSWEAR AT THE PRESTIGIOUS INSTITUTO MARANGONI IN MILAN AND CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS IN LONDON, WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNED?
I learned to be honest with my designs and to channel my vision into a quality object. The honesty is what makes you an original creator and the attention to the skill is what allows your production to compete with what’s already out there. When you take your first steps into this world, and get influenced by so many sources, you can easily get lost in translation.
HOW DID YOU TRANSITION FROM WOMENSWEAR TO JUST FASHION JEWELLERY, AND DID YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS CHANGE AT ALL?
My background is in womenswear as this is what I specialised in at school, so it felt natural when I received Fashion East and New Gen sponsorships to keep experimenting in that direction. Although, I always had a wider view on creativity and designing jewellery has been a natural progress of my design concept, and of consequently of the way my work have been perceived. I trust in things to take their natural path and to follow their course without forcing choices. My creative process is what defines the pieces I designs, nevertheless often it goes in the opposite direction. This is what brought me into jewellery design, and who knows where it could lead me in the future.
YOU HAVE NAMED YOUR COLLECTION ‘PURE: MFP WANTED!’ THAT CELEBRATES LIFE, LOVE AND SOUL. TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR INSPIRATIONS FOR THIS COLLECTION?
Street art, pop symbols, Warhol and Basquiat, romantic love, urban tattoos, and the next generation of cool kids…the same ones who post their selfies on Instagram, follow their favourite brands on Twitter, and read blogs. They are the generation who are, in my opinion, re-defining the whole idea of style-icon, replacing the mainstream references of the past with a more democratic view on the final consumer.
THE CHOICE OF COLOURS FOR THIS COLLECTION IS A LOT MORE DYNAMIC AND IN-YOUR-FACE, WHICH IS DIFFERENT TO LAST SEASON. WAS THERE ANYTHING NEW IN TERMS OF TEXTURE AND TECHNIQUE?
For me every collection has got its own relevance. And I am not afraid of moving from a black and white palette to flashy colours. It’s like life. One day you feel you want to wear only black, and onother you want to bleech your hair pink. This season I explored a very pop aesthetic view and colour was an essential element to enhance, together with oversize effects, symbolism and distressed, urban surfaces.
YOUR AW LOOKBOOK ENCAPSULATES THE VIBRANCY OF YOUR COLLECTION, WHAT’S THE IDEA BEHIND IT?
When I design I can already picture the girl who will wear the pieces I design; so when we shoot our lookbooks the result is very natural. She is a cool young and reckless girl, who is in love, listen to good music and wants to live a happy romantic and joyful life. I read a lot of Walt Whitman and he is one of my favourite poets. I also looked at Treacy Emin’s neon message-sculptures.
YOUR LIST OF COLLABORATIONS IS IMPRESSIVE: FROM HIGH-STREET BRANDS SUCH AS TOPSHOP TO ROKSANDA ILINCIC TO LADY GAGA. AND FOR YOUR AW COLLECTION YOU ARE WORKING WITH LONDON KNITWEAR BRAND WOOL AND THE GANG. WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH POWERHOUSES AND HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR AESTHETIC THROUGHOUT?
Fashion is always a dialogue, and working in a team with designers, stylists and retailers is a very fulfilling and challenging experience. Everytime I have worked on any of these projects I have learned so much and this has often also changed the way I approach my personal work with a renewed awareness, sometime being a more commercial angle, some other times a enhanced appreciation for the research, new techniques, new references..
IS THERE ANYTHING WE SHOULD LOOK FORWARD TO IN TERMS OF FUTURE COLLABORATIONS OR PROJECTS?
It’s still top-secret but we have lots of ideas we are working at and I am utterly excited to keep developing my designs towards new horizons. Watch this space.