The 5 o’clock tea(and chat )with Massimiliano Capella - Nottheusualdressing
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The 5 o’clock tea(and chat )with Massimiliano Capella

I met Massimiliano several years ago when he was the creative Director of the Mazzucchelli Museum near  the lake of Garda, Northern Italy. I know him quite well, not yet as an intimate friend but I am sure of certain things and  I am going to share them with you:

He is a man of great knowledge and great personality( cit.”personality goes a long way” Q.Tarantino),  he is a good person, attached to his family but also embraces  the very modern concept of enlarged family, the one you build and carry with you along the years, with friends and close people you work with. The kind of family I like.

Writing about Fashion, I write in the first place about Passion. I had his name in mind since the dawn of time. The difficult task for me was to decline the “ everything “about him in this blog- interview, without being boring or giving him for granted…then I reminded that he is a friend of mine, and  also that the blog  is my territory, this could turn out to be fun, after all…

A man of a thousand faces, a prism capturing light and shadow, hard to grasp, fascinating, Massimiliano could make  any place his home: he is chameleonic and perfectly adaptable to any situation, not surprising though, that he decided to live on the shore of the lake of Garda, his home land, and make his place a nest where he returns after his job to regenerate himself. He has travelled around the world, walked the starry path with great artists , became an A class artist himself, having this urge to scream it to the  audience, he needs to express that passion, this ultimate frontier of love.

A little bit of his “what  and when” is due to make myself clear.

He has been in charge of the “mise en place” of great exhibitions who took a very different while introspecting look in the career lives of great characters of the XXth Century: Gianni Versace, Maria Callas, the Italian “couturier” Roberto Capucci. Recently he brought Barbie under the spotlights of fashion, transforming the doll  into the Icon of the 2000 decade. The exhibition  displayed over a thousand of Barbie dolls coming from the two greatest collectors in the world,( who happen to be Italian) dating from the 1950’s to nowadays , a pleasure for the eyes. I think that every person working in the fashion industry should not miss this, where else can you get the entire display of fashion outfits so carefully chosen? The exhibit is travelling now around the globe, no wonder. The catalogue has been released in different languages to satisfy everyone. A planetary success, no doubt.

So here we are Max.I do confess I was a little shy to ask this interview, where to start, what to ask, being humble or being bold. There are a thousand of things I would like to chat with you about, but the rules of the blog are severe..let’s see how I can sort it out.

My readers don’t know you yet. My blog is about Fashion, Art and Food. Would it be a surprise if I asked you to describe yourself using a) three adjectives, b) one color, c) a food and a beverage.

Methodic,  crazy, rational( the opposite and the contrary, All and Nothing), color: green, food : risotto, beverage Ginger and lemon juice.

What inspires your talent, where does your inspiration come from?

A lot of my ideas are nothing but the feedback I get from what I have learned. I leave it all to settle down ( like you do with some wine?). A great help comes from the possibility of travelling which enriches me with souvenirs and learnings, but in the end everything converges in this one place, my house on the lake, where I meditate and practice yoga to find my balance.

I have three big names on my mind, huge characters , great talents of the fashion Business.

Since all three of them mean a great deal to me, I would like to know your point of view in few words.

So here I go: Roberto Capucci, Coco Chanel, Gianni Versace.

Roberto Capucci : strichtness, in French, la Rigueur, and the finest formal and chromatic experimentation.

Coco Chanel: the essence of feminine

Gianni Versace: his cross talent and the warmest expression of womanhood.

In an Era where people go rarely  to Museums, how to you  put an exhibit together? Do you follow a “modus operandi” or do you follow your inspirations? What makes an exhibit “a not to miss” event?

Each project follows its own path, but in my opinion there is only one purpose : to move one’s feelings, to dazzle.I am not interested in creating an exhibit with  the pure purpose to explain, without emotions my work does not exist. It is like when telling a fairy tale: the plot must be simple and clear , the story teller adds imagination and creates wonder, mesmerizing the audience…

When talking about Fashion and Art which is the “sine qua non” principle?

Fashion becomes Art when  the Designer finds his own way, untied  from Style, an independent form of inspiration with no legacy or boundaries . When a designer comes out with a piece of work  completely “new” and different in graphic, construction and in shape, then we can talk about Fashion becoming Art.

I am thinking for example at the “Mondrian” dress by Yves Saint Laurent, such an aesthetic revolution….an oeuvre d’Art.

If I say, Fashion and Art in Italy, is there anything we are missing?

As Italians we are missing the point that everything is connected. Fashion, Arts do not exist without Culture, creation comes with knowledge. I think who ever deals with these disciplines must be committed to Excellence.

(I do marry this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Your average day a) when you work b) when you are at home

When I am working I keep focused on my job, when I am home I dedicate all my attention to myself: yoga, meditation, music, reading and the mesmerizing atmosphere of my lake…

Which legacy is important to pass on to the young minds studying Fashion today? Which skills are necessary?

I  always keep in mind a slogan which seduced me in my early days in School: “ Let’s give a future to our past”. This state of mind always walks with me, only if we know, in the sense of knowledge, we can create, creation goes with it, one does not exist without the other. My students (University of Bergamo) follow a program in which I try to make that clear.

A living Icon versus  an Icon of the past and tell us why.

Maria Callas Icon of the past, from the elitist world of Opera, she became one of the most important face in the collective imaginary of the Pop Era, with her will and her determination.

Donatella Versace, a living Icon, to will is to accomplish in her case. She” died” and like the phoenix she was born again from the ashes ….and she won!

Which will it be between:

Black or white?  Black

Miniskirt or longuette?   Longuette

Tie or no tie?   No tie

Meghan or Kate?  Lady D (neither of them would be famous today, without her)

Chat or phone?   None

Newspaper or blog?  Both, if the information is correctly passed.

Haute Couture or pret-a’-porter?  Haute-couture

Sophia Loren or Anna Magnani ?   I have no doubt, Anna Magnani.

Sushi or spaghetti tomato sauce?  Spaghetti, what else?

Dawn or sunset?  Both  but on my lake ….

Do you have a secret wish?


Let’s talk about your latest achievement.” Iconic Frida”, a book, in major bookstores since March. Why Frida?

In my book I relate myself to Frida Kahlo, taking a new perspective on her life as artist. She was and still is today after so many years a source of inspirations for designers who find in her life and works a way to reinterpret and reinvent  the past. Clothing was for Frida an expression of her identity, a masque sometimes grotesque, sometimes so powerful to exorcise her pain, but also a way to express political and social messages. She made of the traditional Mexican outfit a cloth, a Manifesto, to tell the world that she was there no matter what, as a woman, as an artist, as a central figure of the XXth century. Her style survives all fashion, not ever wanting to be an Icon, she became one, nonetheless. To me all of that is extremely seductive, I had to write about her.

 You have been interviewed many times now. Is there a question you have never been asked, one you  are really dying to answer?

Are you happy? “Sometimes”

The last question :What are you doing “tomorrow”?

I keep asking myself that, I guess, I am waiting for the right inspiration.