[P]ower dressing. Can you picture it? In 2k18 we’ve, hopefully, moved on somewhat from the singular idea that to be taken seriously as a woman is to adopt a business suit. Don’t get me wrong, Working Girl-inspired pieces and so-called-mannish tailoring takes up about 60% of my wardrobe – but it’s only part of the story. When I’m feeling more confident, it’s mostly mini-dresses, aggressively bright colours and so-called-feminine accents. In a post-gender world, the sartorial lines are getting more blurred and we need to untangle the myth that corseted, cold-shoulder jackets to froffy dresses and floral appliqué equals anti-feminist fashion.
Enter Italian-born, London-based designer to know, Micol Ragni, who encourages the wearer to consider the power of clothes in entirely new ways. Already counting Björk and Michelle Lamy as fans, Ragni describes her sculptural pieces as actively projecting an image of a strong woman whilst simultaneously being “aware of the reality of the system we live in.” Hunger caught up with the one-to-watch to talk underground parties, what strength means to her and fashion as a medium of empowerment…
Hi Micol! So, was fashion design something you’d always dreamt of?
My very first passion is music and it will always be. I played piano and cello for many years and dreamed of becoming a musician before discovering that I quite enjoyed making clothes as well. I realized I actually wanted to become a designer when I visited the Yohji Yamamoto retrospective at Palazzo Pitti in Florence when I was 16. The volumes and the pattern making of Yohji’s designs literally blew my mind.
You play a lot with volume in new and interesting ways. How would you describe your brand DNA?
I think there are two main aspects of my aesthetic. The sculptural pieces are the result of my own research into the realm of the abstract. I use the fabric to build structures that describe my inner world in an attempt to manifest in a tangible material way how I feel inside. But there are also the coats, the dresses, the jackets and all the other strong feminine pieces like the corsets and the boots that are about developing an aesthetic of a modern woman who uses fashion as a medium of empowerment. This is a woman who is not living in a fantasy world but who is well aware of the reality of the system we live in.
Describe the Micol Ragni customer in three words?
Sophisticated Confident Bitch.
Talk me through your AW18 collection. What was the starting point for you?
It’s a collection focused on the idea of visibility and it is expansion from my SS18 where I first experimented with M3 materials. I used the reflective fabrics to symbolize light and to enforce my belief clothing can help you to feel like you cannot go unnoticed and that can give courage and confidence to get your point across. The inspiration for the show was to create an underground party where models danced to the futuristic beats by CouCou Chloe and used IQOS – which is the future way to enjoy tobacco (if you don’t know what it is, google it!).
There’s a real diverse mix of models – how did you go about casting it?
The casting included many individuals who are not just models but who are also artists and creatives. These individuals inspires me for who they are and not just for the way they look. Thank you for supporting my vision: Tessa Kuragi, Richie Shazam, Angelina Jesson, Aweng, Sussi, Bianca O’Brien, Evangeline Ling and all the other amazing girls who took part in the show.
Who is your biggest female inspiration?
Bjork, Cindy Sherman, Erykah Badu, Grace Jones, Orlan, Carolee Schneemann, Shirley Manson, Chelsea Wolfe and Brooke Candy.
What does strength mean to you?
Strength is about believing in yourself and being able to endure into that feeling especially when you are under pressure. Real strength comes when you build a protection around your mind and body that allows you to become invulnerable to other people’s judgment. No matter how hard it seems, you have to trust you are in a certain way for a reason and that you have all the rights to become anything you want. In a way, your strength is proportional to how much love you give to yourself.
Would you describe yourself as a feminist fashion designer?
I don’t like the word feminist because it a binary word but I certainly am a feminist and I believe the future is female.
And finally, dream client to dress?
Michelle Lamy – I think the fact a woman like her would wear my designs is the ultimate endorsement for my brand.