Thread Forum:
Simona Marziali
Edition 90
Simona Marziali: knitwear as therapy

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.

She currently collaborates with the Max Mara Group, Diesel, Roberto Collina, and, more recently, with an important spinning mill "to work on what exists even before the yarn, and let loose on that too. It is a beautiful experience ". Simona Marziale, over the years, has also worked with Iceberg, a company particularly focused on knitwear: "A great school, where they immediately entrusted me with tasks of great responsibility, and I got trained through direct experience." Thanks to her family, owner of a knitwear factory, she is launching an eponymous collection.
For many years, you have designed knitwear for various creative directors. Yet, even for many of them, it is taken for granted that those who know how to design a suit can express the same creativity and skills as those working with knitwear. So, doesn't it seem to you that it would be appropriate to clarify a bit?

You're right. Knitwear belongs to the world of fashion, it draws upon its inspirations and has a similar creative process. Still, it is a sector in itself, where the technique goes hand in hand with the more emotional and visionary aspect. It requires technical skills to know what result to obtain and to "overturn" its rules and operations and create something new. I was lucky enough to be born into a family that owns a knitwear manufacturing company. Therefore since I was a child, I was in contact with a vocabulary of terms and processes of which, almost without realizing it, I became a part: it is a planet I have always inhabited. 
What professional lesson would you like to share with those who wish to pursue your career?

Never get tired of learning, of being interested in topics such as distribution, the target audience, the final cost of each garment, and how all this converges in the finished product, which must be new, sellable, desirable. In other words, always find a balance between technical knowledge and inspirational impetus. Creativity alone is essential but not enough. Just as specialized expertise. It is a beautiful spiritual and active exercise: you have to face a reality of inspiration and business. 

What would you answer if I asked where you start with your work?

Anywhere. Whether it's an art book or a peeling plaster wall, there is an instinct to want to reproduce a texture, a surface, a shade of two or more colors. At that point, practical experience takes over to see if that effect can be achieved with technology. If I had to tell her what moment excites me the most between the first drawing and the first model coming out of the machine, I would say the level of involvement is the same. 
Is there a garment you are most passionate about in the creative process? 

Maybe the pullover. But in reality, what excites me most is the ability of knitwear to change garments that we consider "classic," not to say boring. They acquire a previously denied contemporary feel by changing their volume and softness. But you have to be careful to avoid them feeling "old": knitwear also needs continuous updates to be contemporary, whether through the new yarns - which I find in my visits to Pitti Filati or other similar fairs - or new proportions. For example, years ago, I had a lot of fun designing jackets that seemed stiff, rigid from a distance, but gave off an unexpected softness from up close.

Genderless, diversity, inclusivity: don't you think the values that have permeated today's aesthetic find their ideal interpreter in knitwear? 

Absolutely. Knitwear wraps the body, shapes, lends itself to a thousand interpretations and infinite combinations. In a sense, it is the only fashion material with endless potential and opportunities for use. 
Is there a designer you particularly love for knitwear?

Two: Phoebe Philo and Raf Simons. And not just for knitwear. I love their modernity.

L’esperienza della pandemia ha influito sul suo modus operandi?

On a personal level, it didn't. Working and producing in Italy, I continued to travel, visiting companies. But I have noticed a greater awareness of the companies I work for, which have preferred reassuring, calming, safe collections.
Can you be sexy in knitwear, whatever your gender is?

Of course! (Laughs) Knitwear enhances the body while protecting it. It works better than a psychotherapy session to increase self-esteem.