In Conversation With Francesca Vigna: Re-Visiting The Past To Understand The Present And Predict The Future

Francesca Vigna is an Italian-Belgian creative consultant and storyteller based in Milan and Paris, but constantly working in different places around the world. Francesca offers a trend research forecast service, but also helps several fashion, design and lifestyle brands to develop their professional and/or personal images. She currently works as fashion consultant and professor for fashion design schools in Paris and Milan. Since 2015 she has collaborated with Milano Vintage Week.

Francesca has a strong personality, an unstoppable river in flood. A mix of inventiveness, humor and miniaturist precision. A curious, generous, talented woman who is always on the move. Francesca manages to indulge her nature; She absorbs all the signals the universe sends her. She has a contrasting beauty; fascinating in her diversity. A beauty that comes from her wealth of memories from which intriguing and interesting stories emerge. Beautiful memories accumulated in past years in the most modern cities of the world. Memories that, mixed with her ironic, eclectic, ingenious, unconventional and independent character and her talents as a narrator, allow her, among other things, to be one of the quintessential storytellers.

Photo taken during Milano Vintage Fashion Week

VOOM spoke to Francesca about her reality as creative soul and professor.

When did you realize you wanted to become creative director, fashion consultant and storyteller? Why did you start this career? Is there another job you would have liked to have done as a child?

            Most likely, even unconsciously, since I was a child. At first I wanted to do illustration, but then my dream changed slightly. Certainly I was, even though as a child I already had a particular predisposition and aptitude to storytelling, drawing and manual dexterity in general, influenced by my beloved grandmothers and by the places I lived in during my childhood and my adolescence. One of them was a seamstress. Her role in the development of my ability is clear. I lived surrounded by old, obsolete and sometimes disturbing objects for a child. Each of them can tell a story, convey emotions and get involved in a fantastic adventure. This fascinated, intrigued and stimulated me. Trying to discover the story that each of those objects hid was my favorite game. Probably the vision of my own world was unconsciously born also from the desire to make the environments I lived in, sincerely, by looking at them today with a critical eye, not particularly suitable for a child, interesting and fascinating. A set of experiences, emotions and sensations that, like the pieces of a perfect puzzle, at one point in my life  magically came together, making me become what I am today. Since 2003 I have been researching and cataloging vintage pieces. An archive that, with great enthusiasm, I often use to carry out the work that companies ask me for and commission me for. I consider vintage a primary source of research. A basic language that can allow us to express our individuality, making us unique and inimitable. A way to express one’s personality starting from one’s emotions and passions.

How do you relate during consultations with your clients? And how do you prepare young people for their future?

            I listen. I listen with extreme attention and concentration. I believe that the real secret, in order to satisfy the needs of customers, is to know how to listen. Listening and then reflecting carefully on what they are telling you certainly allows you to read between the lines, to understand the needs and real needs of the customer beyond the words he/she says and the concepts he/she expresses. Clear and obvious, at least for my vision and values of the world of work, punctuality and absolute respect for delivery terms for commissioned works. And then I am always “explanatory”. I explain to those who need me the reasons that lead me to certain visions. I try to have a similar approach with my students. Listening to them allows me to understand them, with great enthusiasm and passion to really know them. To enter, obviously not in an intrusive way and setting myself well-defined limits, in their individuality. I am interested in knowing their stories and understanding what exactly is behind the mask, in a positive sense, that each of us creates in the course of our lives. My deepest desire is to be able to teach and make my kids understand that, only starting from one’s passions and emotions, can we be unique, uneven and not approved. With all the chaos and the desire to sell at all costs brands no longer understand whether to go towards a bold style and therefore more and more or to extreme minimalism. A thought perfectly summarized by the designer Arthur Arbesser who decided this season to tell his personal story and to talk about his grandmother. The designer explained: “Her life was very complicated but everything was framed by romantic memories.”

A Book by Ludovica Moriggia developed during the research methodology course at Istituto Marangoni Paris

Why and how do you use the motto “Re-use, Re-search and Re-dream” in your work and in the school environment?

            I believe this sentence perfectly sums up my thoughts, my way of being and the approach I have towards the society in which I live with enthusiasm and respect. Re-use, Re-search and Re-dream, is a motto that, very simply, but in a strong and clear way, contains what I do every day, what I am. I do not like shopping in department stores. I do not like buying a garment without a story and which, in most cases, does not even have a fair relationship between quality and price. I love my planet and I respect it. Re-using vintage garments and accessories certainly allows me, even if in the least part, to respect it and help it against the degradation and destruction which it undergoes because of the uncontrollable craze dictated by consumerism and globalization. (Re)searching is my passion. Search and then reinvent. Finding a garment, trying to understand its story and discovering its secrets in order to transform it and give it a new life. This represents an experience that gratifies me by making me happy and satisfied. I have an uncontrollable desire to  make  people in Italy perceive the Vintage World differently from the way they do today, in the vast majority of cases. It is unintelligible to me that vintage is perceived as something to be ashamed of because it is “dirty”. Simple to understand, reflecting only for a moment, that a garment tried by dozens of people in a sad fitting room of a fast fashion brand is much more “dirty” than a vintage garment refurbished and proposed, for its extraordinary new life, on the market.

What are your future projects?

            I am glad you asked me this. I have a storytelling project in progress, which at the same time stimulates and excites me. It is a project, of which I still cannot speak in detail because it is not defined in all its parts, which obviously touches the themes of my work but which also intersects with my personal life, with my memories, to which, as you will have well understood, I am particularly attached. A project that will combine photos with videos and that, among other themes, will focus on a particularly happy period of my life, which has certainly influenced my education, highlighting the strong bond I had with my beloved grandmothers.

Three qualities and or characteristics that describe your personality. Stubborn, emotional and anxious.

Interview by Sofia Malatesta