The success of a fashion collection doesn't depend only from the creative talents designing it, but also from the industries actually making those pieces. This is the main reason why previous posts on Irenebrination tried to explore the universe of yarn manufacturers.
Today Irenebrination readers are invited to get behind the doors of the recently opened historical archive of Lineapiù Italia. They will be accompanied in this special tour by its current chairman, Alessandro Bastagli, who will also share with us some thoughts about the contemporary fashion industry and the intense and emotional joys provided by yarns. Enjoy.
In their writings Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino often dreamt, satirised and toyed with the idea of total libraries, archives and document centres in which everything was catalogued, from general inventories of the past and the present to collections of artefacts, tomes and volumes. Yet creating organised archives and museums is no mean feat and the team behind the Archivio Storico Lineapiù know it very well.
Opened last week inside the HQ of this historical yarn manufacturer based in Campi Bisenzio, outside Florence, the 500 square metre archive collects almost 60,000 pieces between yarns, knitted samples, stitches, books, photographs, accessories, interior design elements and tapestries.
Originally founded by Tuscan entrepreneur Giuliano Coppini in 1975, despite its glorious past Lineapiù wasn't immune to the crisis and went through a series of financial problems, ending up in extraordinary liquidation.
Relaunched by entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli as Lineapiù Italia two years ago, the company closed two very successful financial years also thanks to its investments in technology, research and innovation.
The complex amount of materials and documents included in the archive - curated by Nemo Monti, Martina Becattini and Ilaria Di Cillo - meant that it took longer than it was originally planned to actually put it together. But it was definitely worth waiting: thanks to donations of exclusive designs by thirty fashion houses (among the others also Azzedine Alaïa, Ann Demeulemeester, Chanel, Chloé, Christian Dior, Dries Van Noten, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Gucci, Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara, Missoni, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino and Vivienne Westwood) now nominated honorary members of the historical archive, the latter can be considered also a unique knitwear museum.
The archive will be open to knitwear designers, students from institutions partnered with Lineapiù and journalists. But, Bastagli highlights, there will be space also for knitwear enthusiasts willing to take their passion further and rediscover how yarns marked specific historical times, changed the way we dress and altered the perception of knitwear not only in Italy but all over the world.
After a rather uncertain period of time, Lineapiù closed the last two financial years with positive results, how did you manage to achieve them?
Alessandro Bastagli: Lineapiù is a historical yarn company, I would define it as “an icon of Made in Italy excellence” as it always offered quality and research, interpreting yarns in a highly artistic way. All these points of strength gave it the chance to gain a very important position on a global level throughout the years. I worked for decades in the fashion industry and when I acquired Lineapiù I knew it wasn't an old car, but it was an excellent car that had to be overhauled. Lineapiù wasn't indeed saved by myself or by the administrators who anyway did a great job, but it was saved by its extraordinary key clients based all over the world who remained loyal to the company even when they weren't sure it was able to deliver their orders. We had two very positive years: the company is now profitable again, the team was strengthened both for what regards yarn creativity and engineering. We are pushing once again the boundaries of yarn manufacturing while offering a better service to our clients, all of them top representatives of the luxury industry in the world. Among our clients there are indeed top Italian and French maisons for example, such as Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Ermanno Scervino, Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Chloé, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Jean-Paul Gaultier. All of these couture houses also supported the work behind our historical archive and museum.
What inspired Lineapiù to start the archive?
Alessandro Bastagli: The main idea was putting some order into the activity that the company carried out in 37 years, but this task soon turned into an adventure of discovery. We thought we would have finished in 5-6 months, but as we started the researches we realised we had an incredible amount of material that included yarns, knitted samples, garments, books and pictures. The work extended for 18 months, but we may need another 4 or 5 months to complete it and add other materials such as exclusive garments that some of our clients donated us. I can assure you the archive - currently incuding over 50,000 pieces, among them thousands of stitches and yarns catalogued by season, colour and composition - is a unique research place displaying a solid and ample heritage: a few days ago I went there and started leafing through the pages of some historical volumes and files from the past and discovered incredible things. I think this place will be a valid support to all those designers who may want to create something truly innovative in knitwear as they will be able to see stitches in different materials from mohair to alpaca, wool and viscose Apart from our own materials, the archive also includes a vast library with books about yarns that were bought throughout the years, so we do have materials and documents from 100-150 years ago.
Who can have access to Lineapiù's archive?
Alessandro Bastagli: The thirty maisons who support Lineapiù and who also donated a garment each will obviously have priority, but the archive will be open to all designers and to their assistants plus to students of many fashion schools all over the world. We have for example special partnership programmes with London's Central St Martins, New York's Fashion Institute and Parsons The New School for Design, Israel's Shenkar Institute, Tokyo's Bunka Fashion College and many more. The archive is also open to all the people who are interested in knitwear since it wasn't established to gather dust, but to prevent this amazing material from getting lost and highlight at the same time Lineapiù's creative and manufacturing capacity. This space is conceived as a living archive, so by taking appointment or contacting us via email or phone people will be able to come and visit it.
One of your most famous clients is Azzedine Alaïa, how long has this collaboration been going on?
Alessandro Bastagli: Since Lineapiù started. Azzedine Alaïa is probably the designer who represents Lineapiù's creativity at its best as our collaboration with him goes beyond the mere “yarn supplier-fashion designer” relationship. Some of Lineapiù's yarns were indeed created exclusively for Alaïa, they are very luxurious yarns employed to create timeless pieces. A few days ago I was in Paris and I went with Giuliano Coppini to visit Mr Alaïa since he donated a beautiful garment entirely made with Lineapiù yarns to the museum. Mr Alaïa himself started illustrating us the details of this design from his Spring/Summer 13 collection, highlighting how he had interpreted our yarns. At the end of his explanation I felt completely reconciled with the fashion industry. You see, I've been working in the fashion industry for 35 years and collaborated with very important fashion houses in Italy, I worked with Versace for 19 years, until Gianni's death, so you could say I have lived the heydays of Italian fashion, its most glamorous years, but I sometimes feel I do not understand the contemporary fashion scene anymore or I do not belong to it. Yet in that highly emotional moment, seeing Mr Alaïa's passion, dedication and love as he described his designs even after all the years he's been in the business, I was moved and I felt once again I belonged to the industry.
Can a yarn be more emotional than an entire fashion collection?
Alessandro Bastagli: It surely can as a yarn is born out of a feeling, an emotion or a human sensation. When I acquired Lineapiù I met the creative director and I asked her how was it possible to create a yarn collection. In my mind I could easily imagine and understand how a designer creates ready-to-wear, evening wear or sportswear, but, somehow, I felt it was almost impossible to create an entire yarn collection as I couldn't see how it was possible to transmit your ideas to a yarn. She explained me she tried to inject in a yarn her sensations and feelings and then she showed me two images, one representing a stellar explosion in space that dissolved in multi-coloured traces, the other a cloud. The former inspired her a multi-coloured yarn, the latter a fluffy, light and extremely soft yarn as impalpable as a cloud. This lesson unlocked the door to an entire new world: before then I was only familiar with finished fashion products, but seeing a product coming to life from the raw material and discovering how a 70-80 Km long yarn only weights 1Kg was simply amazing. I can now tell you that among the most beautiful things Lineapiù owns there are the industries around it that take care of the various phases and processes - dyeing, warping, spinning or winding - through which a raw material like alpaca, mohair or wool enters the factory and is transformed into a yarn.
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos