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Fashion without leather? Here’s designer Francesca Liberatore’s ideas on it

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Francesca Liberatore

Banning leather from fashion would mean, among other things, limiting the creativity that a ductile material like this guarantees to fashion designers. We asked Francesca Liberatore, a designer with a formidable reputation in the global fashion industry and who has made leather one of the cornerstones of her collections, about the ways in which she uses it. “I often use it for women’s clothing; I love its softness, natural elasticity and movement,” says Liberatore, “I also love combining it with knitwear and fur and in iconic pieces that echo specific periods, re-proposing aesthetic stereotypes.

Francesca Liberatore suggests different interpretations of style and use of leather, which she would never give up. “Leather is actually a unique material that is ideal for multiple uses because of the many looks it can acquire, in terms of surfaces, finishing and weights, and for its compactness, resistance and ability to change and take different shapes. One of the challenges is at a technical level because its qualities and measures become aesthetic variables around which the designer must design, analysing not only the shapes to be achieved but also the cuts and patches. I think that it is a basic part of the modern wardrobe, mostly through its combination with different materials that further enhance its uses and appeal.” Referring to the recent decision of the CEO of Helsinki Fashion Week to ban leather from the 2019 edition – in order to underline the need for an ethical lifestyle – the designer talks instead about restrictions on the number of products on the market and the need to maintain exclusivity: “I think that instead of an ethical lifestyle, there must be first of all a non-speculative or advertising desire to avoid the market economic saturation. That is, some products such as leather, or even fur, should remain elitist and limited in their quantities so as to maintain the prerogatives of exclusivity and– she emphasizes – this means setting limits to the earnings and trends that fashion has not always been able to tackle.” Is leather really among the leading “Made in Italy” ambassadors in the world? Francesca, well known not only as a stylist but also as a teacher in many of the most prestigious international fashion design schools, agrees: “Yes, I can confirm that Italian leather is indeed still identified with high-class, savoir-faire craftsmanship, and therefore excellence, in various parts of the design process.”

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