The praise of the mistake is the basis on which Erika Cavallini built the essence of her style thus becoming the sign that distinguishes it. She doesn’t seek perfection because she is aware that it is a great limitation, rather she emphasizes the out of place details because she knows that she makes her clothes unique and special. Erika is free and revolutionary and does not care to please society, Erika is courageous and always goes on her way. She is instinctive, visionary, continually striving to improve because in spite of everything Erika learned on her skin that being true to herself is the greatest of goals.
by Francesca Capaccioli
Erika at the beginning of your journey we say that it was a question of black and white, then came the colors, the nuances…
Let’s say that I immediately understood that fashion was my passion. After a long journey as a freelance in the fashion system, in 2008 I created a small line of tailored suits, the name was originally Semicoture. The inspiration was to create something precious, unique, artisanal able to clear the classic canons of construction of a suit. The primordial idea was born in reality years ago. From 2000 to 2002 I had the opportunity to work for the Maison Martin Margiela as a seller in the show room for Line 1 and Artisanal, when the great Martin was still present and transmitted to all of us of the staff a belief of beauty outside the box. It was a privilege and a lighting that marked my indelible mental and creative formation. The first collection that I had the honor to touch and see was that of Stockman, a tight bustier jacket, as if it had been cut out on a woman’s body, inspired precisely by the high tailor’s mannequin on which the first canvases of a dress. The Stockman test dummy, bearing the name of Semicoture. Only many years later, this name inspired everything that I have created until today. My Semicoture was therefore a play on words that told the unfinished, every one of my dresses had an imperfection, a wrong button, a cut-off edge or cut at the waist, just like something semi-finished, unfinished.
Illuminated and inspired…
Yes, my Semicoture was born so. My first collection was ten black cocktail dresses numbered one by one, I left with a small budget of eight thousand euro, think, I worked from home and I did not have an office. In November 2008, I started selling my small “door to door” collection in the most important and beautiful shops in Italy, such as Bernardelli in Mantua, Montorsi in Modena, Penelope in Brescia, Luisa Via Roma, in Florence Space in Ravenna and Milano Marittima, Gaudenzi in Riccione. I designed, I created, I sold, I did everything by myself, I presented myself with my story, with my creed, with my polaroid and my catalog. Back home with my suitcase and with so much satisfaction I decided, with my husband and a partner of capital (our friend) who believed in the project, to create a small company the k8 srl, and it was 2009. So began the first successes with the fairs, I remember one in particular in Paris, it was such an unexpected success that we also had to call for reinforcements from the office because we had a packed stand. And so everything started and until 2012 they were wonderful years of crazy satisfaction, because I was telling a woman, my woman, and she already had a strong identity. It existed!
From then on, I started collaborating with the best Italian textile and service companies, in search of product excellence, I created a cohesive and capable team, I designed trade shows, sales campaigns, presentations, look books, styling, adv, all remaining faithful to my woman and my ethics.
From Semicoture to Erika Cavallini, tell us how the big jump happened?
A big carpenter businessman (a man of numbers) took an interest in my brand, and if you think about it, they were anomalous years, very difficult, in the fashion industry, years of great economic crisis, so I was a white fly at that time because my product he arrived in stores and went out. We did not have a production strategy of overproduction beyond the orderly, so we could not make the re-orders that always required us! He (the man of numbers) was intrigued by this brand that worked miracles, contacted us and came to visit us. We made some great chats and asked if we wanted to get bigger; It was not bad as a prospect for someone like me who had started with everything on their shoulders and no certainty. But my instinct led me to say no. I was well where I was, I was fine in my small craft, family history, girls who believed in me, I wanted to stay in the niche, I did not want to make the big jump and become the front line. And above all for how much I am a woman who has a strong ego, I did not want to be in the spotlight, to expose myself, I make clothes and I want to be back-stage, so jumping would have meant being in the limelight, judged by the journalists that in a second they could have destroyed my work, I wanted to tell my story with my clothes, to my women, and to transmit my vision to them, away from the stage. However then, after I jumped in, they convinced me that it was necessary and inevitable.
Then, closing the circle, Semicoture was purchased in 2016 by a company in the sector, (Abraham Industries) that with new investments decided to create two different lines: easier and low cost, semi-tastes, and Erika Cavallini instead first line of prêt-à-porter and spearhead in the company, all brought great results not only economic, but also of great satisfaction and personal recognition as the author of the brand.
Where does the idea, come from?
I make many trips, the journey for me is really a mental openness. I am an indefatigable researcher of places. In the last summer collection that was shown in Milan last September 27th I made a trip to the contrary, in the sense that for my collection, I had imagined a woman who lived in very hot countries, such as Spain.
I saw something very surreal in my mind that was inspired by the love of Dali and Gala, everything was clear and warm. And without having done the physical journey, as I always do before starting a new project, I made the trip to the contrary, before I created the collection and then I left for Lanzarote where I found the canon I had imagined without having been there. I rediscovered the colors of the earth, of the stones, of an extremely hard, volcanic island, but also with extremely sweet peaks enhanced through the vision of this great architect César Manrique who after the last eruption of the volcano dug and created with the lava of the new houses, behold, I return home from these trips full. Another fundamental inspiration for me is cinema, I am a movie devourer, the music I love, and the raw material such as fabrics. Think that my father gave me a mega industrial warehouse where I finally could create an archive. Where I put all my clothes that I have researched since the beginning of my career, for a total of 2200 cataloged pieces.
Returning to the cinema, my latest collection, the pre-fall 2019, released on January 10th, is inspired by Antonioni’s film, Red Desert. It is my last tribute to beauty, after which “Après moi le déluge”.
How are your women?
Authentic, the primordial word is this. I do not want buildings, I do not want artifice, I want truth, I want wrinkles, I want white hair, I want them to feel good in my clothes.
Do you live with your eyes looking backwards?
Today I feel good in the present, I am in a moment of transition and therefore I do not think of either the past or the future, just alive. In general, if you had asked me this question a few months ago I would have replied that I am a romantic, I am one who lives a bit in the past, but not today. I’m trying to put aside the past, because the past gives you great emotions, great emotionality, but you dig even so much inside and at this moment I do not want. What has been has been and what is to come will come.
And when would you like to live?
Surely the 70s. Music, rebellion, feminism, I am a hardened feminist, even today we women are considered to be of the b series, especially in my sector, but this is an immense discourse and I do not want to trivialize, but every time I think about it, my blood boils.
However, I feel very difficult to live in this period of great appearance and very little depth.
What about you, if you had to describe you?
My name is Erika Cavallini, I am instinctive and visionary and I love imperfect beauty.