Label to Love — Sara Lanzi
Words by Lauren Cochrane
Meet designer Sara Lanzi, the understated Italian whose cultured label caught the eye of Rei Kawakubo.
When describing her aesthetic, 47-year-old Sara Lanzi says “I appreciate understatement, which reflects my disposition quite well, but I let myself be kidnapped by certain excesses.” It’s this delicious combination of restraint and good taste, mixed with the odd flash of colour or joyful frill, which make Lanzi’s clothes so intriguing, so wearable and also interesting. You would want to talk to the woman wearing her designs. Patter spoke to Lanzi about her label, how Rei Kawakubo became a fan and making clothes for cultured people.
You are self-taught as a designer. How did you get into fashion?
I’ve been designing clothes since I remember, but growing up I never took it seriously. I started working into fashion in the late nineties when I was still attending university. I had my own style, someone noticed it and directed me to a fashion company. When I then joined Carpe Diem, an avant-garde Italian brand, I learned how the system worked. I launched my own project in 2004.
Your label is often described as a ‘slow burn’. When did you realise it was going to take off?
I never did. In fact it is a slow moving. I am well aware of the fact that every season the situation can change, for better or for worse, as nothing’s guaranteed. So, I would better talk about moments. The first happened in 2007 with the award of the Who’s On Next prize, held by Vogue Italia. And recently a significant transition was the offer of a corner at Dover Street Market London.
How did you first meet Rei Kawakubo?
It was in my showroom, during Paris Fashion Week, years ago. She came for the buying, so it was a quite simple situation, apart from being incredibly emotional to me. She has never given me any direct advice but what I perceive very clearly during our quick encounters is the impressive strength that comes from remaining true to oneself.
You try everything on yourself. What does this add to your line?
I am aware of the risk of being self-referential but I cannot avoid this step because it makes me understand what I propose to wear. I have a certain perception of my body that I can turn into a sort of abstract state of mind. When this happens, I can try to understand wider desires and needs. I also have many girlfriends of different ages who are other good touchstones.
Tell us more about the contrast in your designs.
I usually work on balancing. I like to face a contrast, however subtle and discreet, and bring it back into a harmonious picture. Femininity and masculinity, rigour and lightness, poetry and strength are topics I deal with in every collection. I challenge myself on new territories, but try to maintain a certain naturalness.
Are there any mottos or philosophies you swear by?
I was been told once that clothes have to be real: I liked it and always kept in my mind. I would like to be able to claim to dress a cultured person, aware of her own nature and personality. In reality I do not know my customers. I can only think that, by choosing my clothes, we share a certain point of view.
Lauren Cochrane is Senior Fashion Writer of The Guardian. Based in London, she has worked for Vogue, i-D, The Telegraph and InStyle. She now writes about everything from Marc Jacobs catwalk shows to band T-shirts and the fashion influence of LouLou de la Falaise.