Paolo, how do you see your role as a fashion designer, and what is your attitude towards fashion?
I see my work as a kind of self-reflection. I reflect on internalized societal expectations of our way of life and question heteronormative stereotypes that play a significant role in this. Therefore, I focus on a sustainable approach to fashion by integrating materials from old stock and recycling vintage garments. My Sardinian origins and personal experiences accompany me in this process.
A brown shopping bag played a big role in the designs for your final project at the Institute Of Fashion Design, Academy Of Arts And Design, FHNW University Of Applied Sciences And Arts Northwestern Switzerland. Can you tell us more about this? The brown paper bag was the main inspiration that helped me realize my thoughts on my bachelor thesis on a symbolic and physical level. It amazes me how this bag can swallow the identity of its contents while simultaneously exposing it and hiding alcoholic beverages, but also making visible what is hidden inside. Do our clothes resemble a paper bag? Opposites collide. I connect this absurd contradiction with absurd expectations that will never end. We are expected to marry, but do we have a say in who and when we marry? Another point that must be fulfilled. Or is it not? Do we please ourselves or everyone who puts us under pressure? With the slogan "Don't take life too seriously", I wanted to bring fresh air into this rather serious conflict. Because isn't it better to laugh about it? So, in my work, a mixture of the rather severe, traditional me and my free, inner rebel emerges.
(you can see the video of his fashion show here: https://vimeo.com/525487631)
You opened your first fashion store, Due Due Studio, in Zurich at the end of June 2023. How did it come about, and what were the challenges?
I see Due Due as a framework in which everything happens. The pieces I create are created under my own name, so to speak. I live in a detached house with my parents and have a floor for myself and a room set up as a studio where my thesis and the first pieces after my studies were created. I had my studio at home until Due Due opened at the end of June 22. So I could present and sell my designs at a few pop-ups. I decided against an internship at that time because I had already completed one during my studies in NYC, and at that point, I preferred to focus on myself. In doing so, the following question was central for me: "Do I invest my time and energy in others or myself for very little pay?" The answer was pretty simple: "I choose me, myself and I!". Of course, I have chosen a path that is not entirely easy. But I think you have to recognize your value and live it. It sounds trite now, but "I am worth it!" I firmly believe everything in life happens as it should. That's why I don't force anything but work hard, manifest my dreams, and let them come to me. That's how I got my shop, for example: During a walk very close to my flat I discovered empty premises, wrote to the landlords and boom! It worked!
Speaking of manifesting, what does spirituality mean to you?
I am already quite spiritual. I'm originally from Sardinia. More precisely, I am from a small village in the mountains, where superstition has always played a big role in my family. That influenced me from an early age. I loved to sit with my grandmother in the summer and listen to her stories and beliefs. One of them goes like this: "You mustn't sew on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday because that's the day when everything goes wrong." Although I don't take superstitions too seriously, they taught me to listen to my gut. In other words, "What is my environment telling me?" or "What am I feeling about this or that situation?" Nevertheless, I sometimes play with it, challenge my gut feeling, and find out if it is right ... (laughs).
What is your favourite spiritual practice?
I like to meditate, and I love the smudging ritual. But sometimes, I forget to meditate and immediately notice that something is out of kilter with me. My thoughts go round and round in circles, which can strain my creative work process, as I often work alone. In such moments, I try to pause, take a deep breath and come down. And then, I realize that the problem that has distracted me is usually not so bad. My tip is to take a deep breath and not be so hard on yourself. Nevertheless, It's a journey.
The first thing you do when you wake up?
I'm not a morning person, but rather a nocturnal one. That's why I tend to have evening rituals. For example, I like to tidy up my flat before I go to bed. That way, I can start the day without stress the next day.
What makes you feel at home?
Home is less of a place for me because I only need a little. It's more about my gut feeling that guides me. Be it regarding my flat, my fashion store, and my life. I can always rely on it. Because as soon as that feeling is there and tells me it's right, I go for it!
What gives you energy?
Taking time for myself, being content on my own, and having no inhibitions. That works especially well when travelling alone. Because when I'm in a beautiful place, I love to go out for a delicious meal and be with myself – that gives me energy. And even when I travel with friends, we make it so everyone has a day just for themselves.
Your shopping crush?
Nothing. I don't believe in excess. If you buy something consciously, it has much more value. I like things and clothes from my friends that we swap or second-hand treasures in general. Such pieces mean more to me than those available in large numbers.
How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Reliable, paranoid – my nickname is Paolo Paranoia (laughs) – and passionate.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Listen and decide for yourself.
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