To say that global fashion phenomenon Francesca Liberatore has crammed several lifetimes into her thirty years would be an understatement. This year, like Daniel in the lion’s den, she took on New York Fashion Week completely alone, and triumphed with a spectacular Spring/Summer 2016 collection. We all like a fairy story, and this is one that promises to end happily ever after.
After graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins in 2007, this prodigious talent was catapulted straight into working for Viktor & Rolf in Amsterdam, her original mentor Jean Paul Gautier in Paris, and Brioni Womenswear in her native Italy. Then, in 2009, she won Italy’s Next Generation competition and launched her eponymous brand at Milan Fashion Week. Her creations, characterized by bold prints and gorgeous, flowing fabrics, have been shown in Rome, Paris, London, Tokyo, Seoul, New York, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Berlin, Warsaw, Asia and Dubai.
With a sculptor for a father, creativity is definitely bred in the bone—father and daughter even share a workspace. “We have four studios in Rome; two of them are my father’s ‘laboratories’, one is my studio, and we share the biggest one as an exhibition space.” Francesca also squeezes into her crazy schedule the time to share her skills and knowledge at fashion colleges around the world. “It’s hard to fit it all in, especially when I’m giving seminars in faraway universities, but it’s also a very refreshing experience full of surprises that help me develop my own fashion design.” Her own designs are proudly ‘Made in Italy’, of course.
Last year, Francesca’s stock rose still further when she earned the coveted DHL Exported Award, which won her the opportunity to show her Fall/Winter 2015/16 collection at New York Fashion Week in February 2014. But in September 2015, she faced New York Fashion Week for the first time totally alone, presenting a catwalk collection for Spring/Summer 2016. Terrifying, for sure, but what a collection! With The Heart is the Center as its theme, it is arguably her most beautiful yet. Diaphanous, romantic fabrics in a strikingly simple palette of black, white and tangerine (“sangria”) share a powerful central motif of a beating heart, complete with its tracery of Swarovski crystal-embellished arteries. “The heart represents the element that makes every garment unique, just as it makes each individual unique. It symbolizes the strength of humanity and our ability to feel. I wanted light and brightness in this collection, and for me, crystals are a symbol of hope and beauty—the perfect element to complete the look.”