Violante used herself as source material for the collection, as she explained when we met her…
Twenty-two-year-old Violante Toscani is a gifted graduate from Polimoda, the world-renowned Florentine fashion design institute. Her recent final-year collection, ‘Women I Wanna Be’, was a beautiful clash of re-imagined feminine shapes and clever use of color. Invited to be part of the prestigious ‘20 Best Of Polimoda’ list, her collection was shown at the Villa Favard in June, a key event in any self-regarding fashionista’s calendar.
That first spark of creativity came when I made dresses for my dolls and teddy bears, but the real epiphany came when I saw the Dior Spring/Summer 2004 Haute Couture fashion show on television.
The prestige of Polimoda made me want to be a student there from the age of nine. When I got there it was a huge challenge, both mentally and physically, but I’d found the ultimate place to express myself.
What fires my imagination are old films and contemporary authors; I love black singers like Nina Simone and iconic women in fashion. One of my ultimate heroines is Miuccia Prada.
For my final-year collection, ‘Women I Wanna Be’, I found some beautiful photos of my grandparents in Paris at the Lido in 1975, which led me to research women’s magazines of that era for ideas around textures, shapes and the jet-set, high-society lifestyle. I also watched Visconti and Antonioni movies to capture a mood.
I used my own body for my collection. My idea was to work with my own skin and body, so I did drawings, videos and made molds, focusing on my puckered lips. They were so evocative of gathers, which inspired the Lanvin-style dress I recreated for the collection.
Working with Swarovski crystals happened because I needed something precious to ‘illuminate’ my women, so I chose sew-on crystals in asymmetric shapes, applying them to coats, T-shirts, shirts, faux fur and hair decorations. I added the last crystal a couple of hours before the show!
As regards my future, my priority is to grow as a person and open my mind to new experiences, maybe in the arts and cinema. I don't want to limit myself to design or research—ultimately, I’d like to become an art director.
Photos by Polimoda