For independent designers, no matter how talented they are, the road to success is always winding. It’s a bumps-and-hiccups ride that Marco De Vincenzo has experienced firsthand. After launching his namesake brand in 2009, he sold 45 per cent to LVMH in 2014, and after six years he bought it back at the end of 2020.
Now in full control of his label, which he’s put on hiatus for the moment, De Vincenzo is energised by the beginning of a new cycle. While retaining his position as head of design of leather goods at Fendi, he’s been working on a personal project, unveiled during Milan Fashion Week with an intimate presentation. Called Supèrno (which translates to placed on top), it involves a sophisticated take on the upcycling of vintage clothing. De Vincenzo described it as “a collaboration with unknown persons.”
De Vincenzo has always relied on extensive vintage research to feed his collections’ inspiration; for this new project, his hunting territory has been a rather humble kind of vintage, nothing of couture or high-end provenance. “I’ve always been fascinated by well-made, well-preserved but anonymous vintage,” he said. “Not luxurious or coming from prestigious labels, rather produced with care by small sartorie, often forgotten or overlooked.” He carefully edited bulks of good quality used clothes, and then worked with his network of artisans and embroiderers to experiment on the transformation of dresses, blazers, and skirts into one-of-a-kind pieces.
“I did it just for the sheer pleasure of being back in a free creative realm, with no deadlines, no clear purpose on what to achieve, and no pressure on what shape all this would take,” he said. “I’m certainly not the first one doing upcycling, but I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and it’d be great if each designer would consider it as an integral part of his practice. Also, as I’m working for a luxury brand, I’ve often thought about what the powerful fashion players could do to put to use their immense archives and deadstock storages.”
Every piece of clothing underwent a meticulous redesign treatment, mainly executed by hand by De Vincenzo’s small team of tailors and seamstresses. “There’s not much technology involved in this project,” he said. Each item was cut open, relined, re-proportioned, and embroidered. “They’ve all changed their destiny, so to speak. Their life span has been extended and given a different trajectory.”
The collection shows De Vincenzo’s talent for creating a repertoire of imaginative mutations, bearing his peculiar style – artsy, slightly quirky, and conceptual. A cropped tweed jacket lived a previous life as a boxy blazer, until it was taken apart, slimmed down, and fully relined; a sort of wallflower-y A-line printed dress was reincarnated into a sexier party dress, studded with a spiralling motif of metallic baubles. Elsewhere, a demure city coat was refitted and given an edge with a metallic, spiky “fur collar,” while a lobster pink knitted two-piece, originally shapeless and rather amorphous, was completely refashioned into a glamorous specimen, embroidered with strings of shimmering crystals.
Although the collection is conceived as a creative ensemble of one-of-a-kind pieces, free of concerns about style cohesiveness or serial reproducibility, De Vincenzo is planning to roll out a small production. “None of the garments will be identically replicated,” he explained. “To give you an example, the spiky collar or the studded embroidery will be the same, but the starting piece, say the coat or the dress, will [only] be similar – never identical. It could be of a different colour, or its shape would be slightly different.” Prominent retailers on the lookout for something unique apparently loved the concept; expect to see Supèrno and its rejuvenated anonymous vintage incarnations on sale in select stores from next September.