Maurizio Galante: Extraordinary Stories in Fashion

The name Maurizio Galante is synonymous with haute couture. Trained as an architect, the Italian-born designer has been mesmerising the fashion world since the late 1980s. His designs, worn by architect Zaha Hadid, artist Erina Matsui and actresses Isabella Ferrari and Jeanne Moreau, elevate clothing to the status of fine art. But rather than canvas, Galante transforms his vision into sculptural and wearable fantasies.

Unlike many couturiers who start a collection with a theme or country of inspiration, Galante presents his collections, once a year in Paris, as being part of the ‘same story’. “Through my work, I’m telling people who I am. My designs convey my vision, emotions and pleasures,” says Galante, who can create hundreds of folds in the one garment. Couture is one of the most, if not the most labour intensive processes. “The most difficult aspect of the process is knowing where to stop, in order to avoid losing the sense of perfection,” says Galante.

As mentioned by Mario Boselli, President of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana; “I find great aesthetic balance in his clothes and work, between the macro, the garment’s structure, and the micro, the material aspect, the fabrics that are meticulously draped, pleated, cut and reconstructed”. Increasingly, Galante is distancing himself from the traditional way of presenting a collection. “My work is season-less. And I see my garments as design-objects rather than those created for catwalks.”

Given the extraordinary detail and time it can take to complete a Galante design, often in the hundreds of hours, the Galante clientele are unlikely to be shrinking violets. Carmina Lebrero, owner of Anahi’s restaurant in Paris, enjoys wearing his creations while gliding around the room chatting to customers. “I feel extremely proud when I’m wearing one of his designs. There’s life in each piece”. Galante not only delights in seeing her in his creations, but also in the way she often leaves her glass at tables. “She’ll return 10 minutes later and resume the conversation,” says Galante, who sees his designs as attracting ‘strong and confident people’. “My clients, both men and women, enjoy to surprising and being surprised. They don’t hide, but celebrate their character and their convictions,” he adds.

Most couturiers, particularly with Galante’s talent, express their visions to the world of ready-to-wear. But Galante has preferred to take a different path, designing costumes for operas, designing furniture and lighting with his business partner Tal Lancman, via their company Interware, as well as curating exhibitions for museums and cultural events. “Haute couture is close to my concept of how I see art and design. In haute couture, every garment is a unique project. It’s unrepeatable,” says Galante, who delights in reaching different fields to satisfy both his thirst, as well as Lancman’s, for creation. “Every project, even if it seems distant or different, derives from our vision and from the joy we receive from being designers in a more holistic way,” he adds.

Galante also doesn’t see any separation between the various creative fields he covers, whether it’s designing for Baleri or conceiving an exhibition for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUDAM) in Luxembourg. “In our work, there is no separation between haute couture, design, architecture and art. Every creation simply joins in, becoming yet another part of our ‘family’. We don’t have a ‘favoured child’.

Not surprisingly, Galante’s training as an architect in Italy has shaped his approach to fashion. “I build ‘supple architectures’ which protect and at the same time frame the body. And irrespective of how a garment is worn, there’s that emotion when you see that person walking across a room wearing it,” says Galante. And what better connoisseur of architecture than Zaha Hadid, one of the world’s most high profile architects and loyal Galante client. “Zaha was the first woman to tell me that she loves and admires the structure and the construction of my garments.”

Galante also admits that he couldn’t achieve what he has in fashion had he not come to live in Paris. “Paris has a great impact on people. It’s a city which ‘swallows’ you up and everything it contains becomes part of it,” says Galante, who like his creations, ‘would have told a completely different story’. But irrespective of the city, or the context in which the designs emerge (his atelier is located in the Bastille), emotion is fundamental to the tale. “Emotion is the key word and the base for my work. The garments and objects we create are expressions of these emotions.”

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