I’ve always been intrigued by old things, especially dresses.
Flecks of dust within their creases; faded colours and anachronistic shapes. They all have something to say. Always.
At first glance you might find something which is not quite right: the pattern of the cloth, the shape of the sleaves, or the way the skirt is cut…but then, at a closer and more careful look you will start loving those imperfections of the time which talk about undisclosed stories.
When I came across Elena’s dresses, whose atelier is based in Venice, I could see stories of other times flowing through their new fabrics…
So I decided to interview Elena who has been really kind to give me some insight on how she creates these dresses full fo soul!
My first question is related to the meaning of your atelier’s name Orologisilenziosi, Silentclocks – all one word. Where does it come from?
Orologisilenziosi comes from the idea of a still clock and of the time that can be moved back and foward as you like. It becomes the expression of freedom from the mainstream fashion constrictions and dictates; the re-conquest of your own individuality through the control of the historical and contingent time: the time you need to complete something with the right care, the time you need to choose the right dress.
How did you start making corset and bespoke dresses?
I always had a passion for needlework, embroidery and all “feminine” works, since when I was a child. At the age of thirteen I made my first costume. I wanted so bad a victorian costume, and at that time a teenager had not access to good (or even mediocre) historical costumes, at least where I lived. So I decided to make it myself, and it had to be a complete outfit, from underwear to accessories. After high school I went on sewing my own clothes, learned corsetry and started to make my first bespoke outfits and accessories for others.
Where do you get the ideas/inspiration from?
Well, almost anything. When I design something on commission, I usually ask for colour and theme (this can be the basic shape, an era or just a mood) and then start searching until I collected enough material on that subject. When I am let free to do whatever I want (and it often happens with some clients), the ideas just come from the mix of stuff I fill my brain with: historical clothing, art and science, the observation of nature, literature, movies. In any case it is all about keeping the mind stimulated and let the things settle and become a part of me.
Because a lot of your works are inspired by period dresses, how do you make sure they reflect the fashion of the time?
I do not make anything philological, but I love to include period techniques in my work, when I think they are effective on the practical and aestetic side. As I said before I really do a lot of research. I have my collection of books on period clothing with photos, fashion plates, patterns and techniques, and then there is the internet of course. I also visit museums and exibitions whenever it is possible, and sometimes travel abroad for research. I really like the pastiche aestetic, but it has to make sense, somehow. It is not just about picking random things and putting them togeter. Being inspired by something, means to try to understand it on the deeper level: how it was done, why, who wore it, in case of a dress, but similar questions work for any other inspiration. You need to understand something and treat it with respect, before you can use for your own purposes. Curiosity is at the base of the process.
What is the period in the history (20s, 30s,…) that you like the most?
I have a lot of “crushes” on different periods. Basically my first love is the Belle Epoque, from the seond half of XIX century to the first world war, but I do love to take trips to the beginning of XIX century and also to the twenties and thirties of the XX.
What was the most interesting project/dress you realised?
Well…it’s always the next one, isn’t it? Anyway, last year I got into millinery and that gave me an extra oomph, allowing me to complete my outfits with nice hats and headdresses. I do love hats, they can enhace even the most plain of toilettes. Currently I’m working, in my spare time, to a corset outfit in black silk, inspired to late victorian bustle fashions, with a silk embroidery and dolls’ glass eyes as a decoration. It’s a bit on the spooky side, but reflects my obsession for observation and for going to the roots of things, and links it to my passion for late bustles.
Is your personal style inspired by your work?
Only when I find the time to make somethings for me. Being literally a one woman brand (I really do everything on my own) it is not easy, but I try to wear my own works as often as possible. Mostly because it is hard for me to find clothes that fit my soul, so I end up feeling really uncomfortable when I wear industrial clothes. I always keep this in mind when working for my clients: I try to fit both their bodies and their souls, I speak with them and try to understand what they want and what they need.
Does Venice influence your work?
More pictures on Orologisilenziosi’s Facebook fan page
Not really, to be honest. Although I make costumes too, I always kept quite far from the venetian stereotype costumes. I love Venice, but the world is bigger than that. Still I like to go for a stroll in Venice and get lost through the calli, far from tourists, shops and chaos, where all the magic still lies almost intact.
Photos with model: Viktoria Stutz