Italian costume designer Flavia FG Tomassi presented her regal yet phallic-like collection Rebellious Renaissance during the Berlin Music Video Awards fashion show this year. They say that people are products of their environments, and for Flavia, this is true. Born to a seamstress mother, Flavia’s grandfather also worked as a renowned tailor who dressed Hollywood stars of the 1950s when they passed through Rome. Although she never met him, she still holds onto his cutting scissors and leftover patterns, which have become a lucky charm.
However, her natural knack for materials didn’t come from just one side of the family – her father is a historian of ancient Rome who specialises in fabricating armour replicas. As Flavia told us: “Since I was a child, I was always in the cellar with my father forging metals and creating whatever we could imagine. Making models and costumes from nothing – feeling the material and moulding it myself is essential to my process.” Having free rein with materials such as wood and metals in her formative years set her up well to stretch her creativity across different realms.
With time, Flavia came to specialise in historical costume and pret-a-porter fashion. Her foundation in historical costume gave her the confidence to move on to what she describes as “alternative fashion” – experimenting with less conventional materials such as resin and latex. Over the years, Flavia has also established herself as a successful prop and set designer.
Keen to unveil more about this multi-faceted designer and her collection Rebellious Renaissance, we caught up with Flavia backstage at the BMVAs fashion show.
Œ: How did you end up at the BMVAs 2022?
Flavia: The BMVAs happened by chance – we “found” each other via social networks and suddenly, this year’s splendid collaboration was born! Luckily, even during the covid drama, I was able to have a few breaths of fresh air thanks to the Eurovision song contest of 2021 – I participated in the styling department for Senhit/San Marino. But in this case, preparing for the BMVAs, I was able to maximise my art and style to 100 per cent. I‘m very grateful to the organisation for giving me this wonderful opportunity!
Œ: What three words best describe your brand?
Flavia: Eccentric, fetish and baroque… Actually, can I add Roman? I think it’s a perfect choice that encompasses all three words. Ancient Rome was a pioneer in many aspects, both sexual and fashion – paradoxically further ahead of the current Italian social situation.
Œ: Can you tell us more about this collection ‘Rebellious Renaissance’ – what inspired it and what makes it distinctive from previous collections?
Flavia: This collection is the perfect representation of my style. First of all, I’m a costume designer. So I wanted to make a collection that best expresses my origins – my love for historical costume, the theatre, baroque style, and simultaneously, my passion for alternative fashion, punk and industrial style. I wanted to balance a little bit of decadence and non-gendered sex and glamour. I also wanted to bring my fascination with Marie Antoinette into the present day – a version of Marie, who is as elegant as she is eccentric. She is not afraid to expose herself and show the world who she is. The collection encourages you to be glittery, freaky and most importantly, proud of yourself!
Œ: Speaking of being proud, what look are you most proud of from this collection and why?
Flavia: I honestly can’t decide. Every time I create a costume, I think of it as if it were my own child – creating something with my own hands. Using fabrics or materials of any kind for me is a cathartic experience, it’s ritual-like, so I’m fond of everything I invent and create!
Œ: How influential do you feel music is on fashion and vice versa?
Flavia: One of my first passions was the piano. I have been playing it for many years since my childhood so music has always been a part of my life. I also listen to music all day, every day – it’s a constant “background”. For example, when I work in my studio I always have the speakers turned on and connected to Spotify. Every time the music stops for any reason I go crazy, and my assistants laugh every time because I start to scream and shout. For me, music is an inspiration. It’s life.
Every period of my personal and creative life is connected to a soundtrack. Without music, I probably wouldn’t be who I am and I wouldn’t do what I do today. For this reason, I wanted to make an ad hoc track for the show with the help of the amazing Mattia Mari, a musician friend of mine. He created something unique that represents me at best, it wouldn’t have been the same with a random song.
Œ: Music is clearly vital to your creative inspiration. If you could choose an artist/genre that influences you the most, who or what would it be?
Flavia: In my heart, there will always be Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails, but currently, I love Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, The Weekend, Yungblud, and Halsey… I know there is more than one, sorry, it’s impossible to decide – I just love the new generation of music artists so much!
Œ: Any exciting plans we should know about?
Flavia: Undoubtedly, the goal for the near future is to evolve and head in an artistic direction at full steam. My greatest inspirations are Mugler and McQueen, who, as you know, were not simply fashion designers – they invented new worlds. I want to try to achieve even just ten per cent of what they did. I envision bringing new performances and shows to life – they’ll be performances related to costumes but with a twist of virtual reality and 3D mapping… Stay tuned!
All photos were taken by Peter E. Reiche