Thread Forum:
Giulia Piersanti
Edition 90
Giulia Piersanti: creativity has a good fiber

As in the common thread that connects the various interventions in an online conversation, the Thread Forum project, curated by Antonio Mancinelli, is a survey of the role of knitwear in contemporary aesthetics. Thanks to a series of interviews with the most well-known knitwear designers in the world, selected among Pitti Filati participants, it also intends to take on the questions that retailers and buyers often ask themselves and have no easy answers. Conversations on the "here" and "now" of a material that has always been part of fashion culture.

In addition to being a knitwear designer, Giulia Piersanti is also a costume designer: hers were the styles for Call me by Your Name by director Luca Guadagnino, for whom she also created the wardrobe for A Bigger Splash, Suspiria, and Bones & All, just recently wrapped up. The discreet, reserved, humble professional has worked with various luxury houses' creative directors, such as Balenciaga and Lanvin. She is now Head of Woman's and Man's Knitwear for Celine. We met her in Milan, where she lives and works.  
Can designing knitwear limit or expand one's creative freedom?

I believe that a modern approach to fashion design in general (whether it is knitwear or otherwise) does not need to limit creative freedom as long as this is not an end in itself, despite responding to consumer and market demands. I believe in sincere, emotional, responsible, and intelligent creativity. That not only fulfills commercial goals but can also educate to better purchasing choices.
What does knitwear offer more of and less of than other fabrics?

For me, knitwear offers broader room for imagination. Just think about the fact that everything starts from a thread: creating new shapes and volumes and the base fabric. This leads to a development of modeling, the search for a wider dimension, and a study of the attitude for wearing a specific garment that can only be achieved if you know the stitching procedures and treatments. Knitwear is the only material that allows a 360-degree approach: it balances design and the ideal technical solutions to make it come true.

You work for a big brand and have collaborated with famous creative directors. How does it work? Do you always get along, or are there moments of discussion?

I am fortunate to be able to work for artistic directors with whom I have always had a shared vision, speaking their same language, which I respect and admire and from which I have learned and will never stop learning.

Could the genderless trend be an advantage for yarns? If so, why?

There is no male or female yarn. A genderless offering should not be a trend of the moment but a contemporary fashion criterion. Everything in the "in-between space," neither male nor female, is what I find most interesting. I find it a bit outdated that certain brands have a knitwear designer only for men or one only for women in their teams.

Can you define it as a material of the future to be included in the idea of sustainability?

Absolutely. The starting point is yarns manufacturers opening up to new approaches that support better traceability of the raw material and the development of new skills for their research. This ensures that designers are not limited in making sustainable stylistic or creative choices. Unfortunately, I understand the challenge requiring economic investments and corporate restructure for manufacturers, but we must not see a common commitment towards the planet as a passing trend. The current generations of young students and designers are very demanding in their request for sustainability in creativity.
What is your earliest memory related to knitting?

My grandmother who, as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were born, kept working - and still works today! - on crocheting, making blankets for us: these are gifts that we keep over time with great emotional and sentimental participation.

How important is knowing the technique compared to having an original idea but not knowing how to implement it?

In both cases, there is an interesting side. If behind it, there is the perseverance of wanting to know and understand. When I switched from fabric design to knitwear design years ago, I did not know its techniques. In a certain sense, this gave me the freedom not to set "it can't be done" limits. "Can this be done? Why not? And if we did so, could we do this?". My ignorance forced me to ask questions: I sat next to the knitters, questioned them. You know, sometimes not being too "technical" can lead to new things. But I repeat: the success of a piece or a collection does not lie only in having a new idea if it is an end in itself. But in using intelligence to create an honest and appealing product.