Collini Milano 1937


Carmine Rotondaro

“Contamination For Glamour “ COLLINI’s Brand Legacy Of Heritage Couture & Resilience In The Age Of Covid-19

RESERVED MAGAZINE has a version sit-down with Carmine Rotondaro, COLLINI’s dynamic Creative director and CEO to discuss his vision behind their provocative new campaign. The juxtaposition of the model  engaged in a daily routine outfitted in the ultra glam collection styled with a gas mask creates a powerful narrative behind the concept of “contamination for glamour”.

The outcome that I was striving for with this campaign was not at all to provoke or protest but to create strong and meaningful images that symbolize the resilience of the human spirit even in the most grotesque and unimaginable circumstances. My message is that we can pull it off, we can get over this dark, horrific experience that has compressed and confused all aspects of our lives within the four walls of our home. COOLER THAN LOCKDOWN. – Carmine Rotondaro, Creative Director & CEO, of COLLINI

Q.1.How did you come up with concept of “contamination for glamour” and can you elaborate on what this means? 

Fashion has always been about contamination: contamination of styles, genders functionalities and suggestions. Some of the most revolutionary junctures in the history of fashion happened when fashion authorities or emerging trendsetters dared to dress women as men, men as women, civilians as soldiers, jet-setters with a sweatshirt. It is a creation process that blurs and combines different aesthetic codes and functionalities into the single presentation of a new garment or accessory. This is something that we do a lot at Collini and which took us to create glitter biker trousers, shiny golden and silver jackets with fringes, a golden printed-crocodile coat, cashmere pulls printed with pure 24K gold, shiny and glitter Cuban heel boots, fluoro combat boots, jersey sweaters with shiny fringes on the sleeves, etc. Also the idea of the gas mask photos derives from this process. It is this steady contamination between different suggestions: the danger and angst suggested by the gas mask and the peaceful and quiet home settings in which the pictures were shot. The oppression and containment suggested by the mask and the outspoken glamour and chic of the styles that we chose for the shooting. And again the combination of the duress and harshness of the gas masks and of the sparkling femininity of the models wearing them. This concept of “contamination for glamour” that is the underlying of the campaign is what Collini stands for. And I find interesting that the word “contamination” that we normally use for styles is originally a concept that has to do with viruses.

Q.2 What inspired you to choose this particular location for the shoot? 

The current pandemic has forced us to compress virtually all aspects of our daily life into one single place and into the most ordinary of all: our home. This is the place in which we are normally cosy and comfortable but, during the pandemic, this is also the place in which we have been directed and forced to also be all the rest that we normally are in other places: elegant, sexy, sociable and glamorous. The pandemic confined the glamour of our life into the most “everyday” of our life’s premises. Now, the mantra of Collini has always been “everyday glamour” and, in the post Covid, we will continue to build on this concept and to create a fashion that is, at the same time, easy and chic, functional and feminine, wearable and glamorous. This is for us the big fashion message of the pandemic.  

Q.3 Why did you decide to have the models specifically wear gas masks as opposed to N95 or fabric masks? 

This campaign is about resilience and the gas mask is a symbol of extreme resilience. It is at the same time an evidence of the strongest oppression (the one polluting the air and preventing to breathe) and, at the same time, a tool of survival and mean to oppose the elements and to prevail. At the same time, it transfigures the human face and allows us to breathe and smile again when the danger is gone. It is repression and salvation at the same time. It requires adaptation but it allows to prevail. It really seemed to me the epitome of this campaign’s message.


Q.4 During our last interview on Instagram live, you mentioned that you will be showing the collection during Milan Fashion Week. Do you feel that most buying appointments will be done virtually or that buyers will still want to see the collection in person? 

It is correct. We are looking to show at the September Milan Fashion Week but digitally. I personally believe that the COVID emergency and its aftermath will represent a big incentive for the fashion industry to embrace more and more the opportunities offered by the digital and artificial intelligence tools. At Collini we are very excited about these opportunities and we believe that these may be particularly beneficial to us and allow us to multiply the exposure of our creativity. Think about the ability to show our collection in a totally digitalized environment: basically a no place. Also, the ability to be present and meaningful in various fashion weeks around the world.

Q.5 Prior to becoming the CEO and Creative of Collini, you were an advisor global luxury brands. How do you feel this influenced your leadership style? 

In my career as an advisor I learned that success depends to a very large extent on the ability to establish an effective, cohesive and diverse team. There are very few things that one can do on his/her own. And this not only in terms of time and reach but also in terms of background and skills. The diversity of a team is its richness because it brings to it contributions, inputs and points of view from different backgrounds and experiences. Team Spirit and Diversity: these are the two avenues to success on which a winning leadership style absolutely needs to be based.

Q.6 What are you most proud of achieving since your tenure at COLLINI?

Collini was founded in Milan in 1937 by a family of fashion makers. It became very successful and well known serving the upper class of the city, which was also the most prominent of Italy. When I first got in touch with the Collini brand and family I fell in love with the technical skills of their pattern makers and with the discrete fashion wisdom of their seamstresses. Then, I took over the company and I brought my glamorous and rock and roll aesthetics. One day one of our artisans in his sixties told me: “you make me feel young again”. This is the achievement that makes me most proud: having brought new excitement to the experienced teams of this established fashion house.

// Featuring: Carmine Rotondaro // Author: Francesca Vuillemin // Special Thank You: Cristiano Magni Public Relations

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