Matteo Bigliardi – Sophisticated Simplicity

Italian Menswear designer, Matteo Bigliardi, presented his debut SS19 collection “BECOMING” at London Fashion Week Mens. The collection is a nod to the Italian sartorial elegance, keeping in line with the designer’s heritage, and at the same time mixed with more alternative pieces influenced by his training in the UK.  

Born in Italy, Matteo moved to London in 2002 from Guastalla, a small catholic countryside town in the North of Italy, an area best known for food delicacies like Parma Ham and Parmesan cheese. 

Growing up in such an isolated, middle-class town far from the big city, Milan, pushed him to spend his time dreaming of faraway places, reading Vogue Italia and drawing womenswear. ‘It was my way of escaping’ says Matteo. he started drawing from a very young age and was inspired by the Japanese animation manga which was very popular in Italy in the 80’s.  

On those early days, Matteo dreamed of working for Gianni Versace. ‘I remember calling up Telecom Italy, asking for the fax number of the Versace offices in Milan. Then I went into a stationary shop in town and faxed my sketches to that number. god knows who received those drawings. Donatella never called back!’ recalls Matteo with a smile. 

Then came Tom Ford as the Creative Director of Gucci ‘I fell in love with his sexy menswear and womenswear. It was so metropolitan, edgy and aspiring! I wanted to be the Gucci guy. but only until 1999, after that I thought it was over the top, a bit tacky and less inspiring, then I moved on to the Prada vibe’ says Matteo of his early inspirations. 

In 2002, he followed his dream to become a fashion designer and moved to London, for a summer design course. He was mistakenly enrolled to the menswear group. And that’s when he decided to stay and take the  challange challenge. After that he went on to the BA Menswear program at Central Saint Martins. Soon after his graduation in 2006, Gianfranco Ferre’s headhunters called him and invited him to Milan for an interview, and he became an assistant in the men’s design team.  

Sadly, Ferre passed away. Matteo returned to London to for his MA at Central Saint Martins. In September 2010 he presented at London Fashion Week as a part of Fashion East MAN. Soon after he begun working for Tom Ford as  assistant menswear designer. But after two and a half years, he left, seeking therapy and feeling emotionally dysfunctional. 

‘Working for other people was very difficult, because of my social skills. I was overwhelmed by others and I wasn’t strong enough emotionally to stand up for myself so I let myself crumble down.’  

Matteo was also part of the costume design team for the movie Kingsman the secret service and then worked for a year at Pringle of Scotland. But again, the job burnt him down.  

‘Career has been very challenging and I never really succeeded in a job. I never progressed in a work place. I wasn’t able to hold on to a job and get a promotion. It took me awhile to recover emotionally and when I felt strong enough I stopped and thought…. what was it that I moved to London for? My dream? I always wanted to have my own clothing label, so I thought, ok, now that I am 40, I need to finally do it!’ says Matteo openly.  

And that’s when he created his SS19 collection “BECOMING” under his own label after years working for others.

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication 

The label embodies simplicity and elegance and goes against everything that fast fashion stands for.  The label’s mantra is Leonardo da Vinci’s words ‘simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication‘ and is transported through the minimum use of details and streamlined silhouettes, which creates cleanliness. 

Matteo is challenged by gender stereotypes, masculinity and ideas of what is considered appropriate to wear and the collection is inspired by his personal journey in the London underground queer scene of the early 2000’s. 

The collection presents a series of jackets and coats, more in line with the sartorial Italian style, without being stuffy and conservative. 

The traditional notion of a tuxedo has been skewed into a tunic, which is fluid, yet tailored and structured. take away the trousers and the tunic can transform into a ‘dress’ for men – inspired by Matteo’s friends, who wore tight black dresses with boots dancing the night away at abandoned warehouse queer squat parties in East London. 

In this day and age, can a man wear a ‘dress’, which goes against all the masculine ideals? Why can’t a man be vulnerable and show a softer side? 

This is the challenge that the designer wants to take on with his collection, to explore and bend what is traditional menswear and masculinity as we know it, but always retaining a sense of elegance. 

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Silk and virgin wool in organza weave, summer kid mohair, which resembles a denim fabric, cotton and silk, sanded buttons, all provide an edge and turn the classic items into something superior, showcasing Matteo’s approach and bringing freshness to classic menswear. 

These are pieces which are created for a more vulnerable, sensitive, delicate and romantic man. 

Which led me to ask Matteo if he creates cloths for men, women or both. ‘I love both and I follow both. I believe in clothes that are more genderless. At the moment it’s only menswear, but it could be adapted to women as well. I dislike full on proper menswear masculine brands, super traditional and conservative. I prefer when the menswear is more feminine, delicate’ says the designer. 

He perhaps sees himself in the future designing women’s cloths, but short term his dream is to build his label ‘I’d love my label to be recognised and people buying my clothes, appreciating them and wearing them!’ says Matteo.  

Matteo Bigliardi presents a very mature, unique and super sophisticated collection. A polished juxtaposition of textures and fabrics designed for the contemporary Renaissance man. But all in all, the Matteo Bigliardi man is not bound by gender stereotypes. 

Follow Matteo on Instagram to see what’s next for this promising talented designer.

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

Photograph: Debbie Sears

MODELS: CHEMA; TAL AND HUI AT FIRST MODEL MANAGEMENT
PHOTOGRAPHY: DEBBIE SEARS
STYLING: OSCAR QUIROZ
HAIR+MAKE UP: SUSAN SWARTZBERG
JEWELLERY: AGNES KOLIGNAN
BOOTS: COURTESY OF LEWIS LEATHERS