Renata Molho on Nanni Strada
"If you were to set up a reasoned and reduced course on the history of clothes, one of the first names I would mention is Nanni Strada, who has inspired everyone, from couturiers to designers. She is hard to define and categorize. Dorfles said of her: "Nanni, she’s one of a kind." In Darwinian terms she may be the link between fashion and design. Hers is not a story based on the cult of the personality or the construction of a brand, but on applied thought.
Nanni Strada started working with Alfa Castaldi and Anna Piaggi, “finding things for shoots in the mid-Sixties – she says – you can just imagine what I saw”. Yet instead of taking the fastest route to the most fashionable places, she chose uncharted territory in which to invent her very own world. Despite the attention from intellectuals - there were times when people in the street would ask her to sign autographs - she did not get distracted by the bright lights but carried on with her research – silently and honestly. The project-led aspect of Fashion Design was what mattered most to her. The human body? So sacred it could not be influenced by dress, at most it was to be simply guarded, and protected.
Geometry and the two dimensional are the founding principles of Nanni Strada’s work. She was the first to photograph a dress flat, as if it was an object. She has never considered the catwalk as the end-point of her creations and indeed has never had a fashion show. Hers is a unique experience, working regularly with the most influential photographers and top manufacturers.
Teaching is an adventure born almost by accident, and gradually transformed into a great love. For Nanni Strada it means the ability to share her knowledge and the need to restore depth to something that is in danger of becoming the victim of considerable misunderstanding. Fashion is culture. It implies analytical skills, aesthetic and scientific sensitivity, analog skills and synthesis. It is made up of thoughts that materialize and become meaningful and influential for everyone, even by deduction. It is pure philosophical speculation, and fun. To teach all this and stay true to herself Nanni Strada has designed a method which, although rationalized, we could define emotional and the only way forward. Imagining new mental pathways, going against predefined methods, to quote Paul Feyerabend, is to restore density and to describe the third dimension. It means looking at the immense wealth that lies beneath the sea rather than skimming the surface with a noisy jet ski.
Text by Renata Molho (from Nanni Strada, Lezioni. Moda-design e cultura del progetto, Lupetti, Milano)