By: Fiammetta Cesana and Annarosa Laureti

"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto
"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto

In the art core of Milan city, the Brera district, it arises a place where fast fashion’s devilish seeds didn’t take root. Gianluca Saitto’s atelier is one of the last outposts of the Made in Italy’s creativity. For almost ten years the young designer loved by celebrities and Arabic princesses has been proudly carrying on his own anachronistic fashion idea, based on the beauty education. Welcoming us with a big smile into his fairy nest – “The atelier is in my image and likeness, everything you see, from furnitures to lamps, is so theatrical… It is a place that must be mine through and through” – he started telling about a world of ancient taste but projected to the future.

Fashion designer, tailor, sometimes psychologist too, for Gianluca Saitto what really matters is understanding “the sensibility of people in front of you, his or her personality and physicality”. Only by this you can create an harmonious blend between the dress and who’s wearing it.

“My mission is measuring my stylistic side with the celebrity’s identity and the potential messages that he/she wants to share with an album, concert ecc. I do this also with all the atelier’s clientele. I try to be always present in the atelier because the collection I make, rising from personal creative ideas, has be properly understood by the woman who gets into the shop”.

Gianluca Saitto's portray
Gianluca Saitto's portray

Fiammetta: It’s incredible how many strong personalities you worked with!

Gianluca: Yes, I paid my dues to get here. My first collaboration was with Gianna Nannini, then I’ve been working with Patty Pravo for six years with whom I worked also for the Festival di Sanremo, and then Loredana Bertè…

F: How is  working with these stars?

G: You really need psychology. I like saying that first of all they are humans as all of us. What they have isa different, very strong creative flair. They know what they want to communicate and, sometimes, even what they want to wear. My job is just to try to act like a psychologist. Obviously if I just stand out I would never manage to make the right trait d’union. However I can suggest them. They teach me something and viceversa. In this way we create a friendship that for me is fundamental. I could never have a collaboration with an artist with whom there is no feeling. When there’s no harmony things are terrible.

Gianluca Saitto and the Italian singer Loredana Bertè, Photo Giovanni Squatriti
Gianluca Saitto and the Italian singer Loredana Bertè, Photo Giovanni Squatriti

F: So are they all tailor made pieces?

G: Almost all of them. For example I usually create for my clients also classical suits to wear during meetings or dresses for special occasions, but always enriching them with a little charming detail. I like the concept of tailor made, once I sell a piece I never recreate it, also because I’m already thinking about other 25 clothes to make… My atelier is a hotbed, a salon where every time, every week, every ten days there’s something going out and something new getting in.

F: In this way it’s easy to create a kind of personal and exclusive capsule collection. Does it happen that someone ask you to realise a whole wardrobe?

G: Yes absolutely. Some Arabic princesses asked me that. I made for them entirely hand embroidered dresses, even using precious materials like white gold and diamonds.

F: When did you open your first atelier?

G: We opened the first atelier in 2010, in Via Ponte Vetero, in Brera, and then have moved to Via dell’Orso, in the same district, since five years. Now we have two windows on the street, just perfect for a better exposure. Also the random passage is important!

"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto
"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto

F: Has someone ever asked you a garment just like the one worn by an artist during a performance or a public appearance? 

G: Yes. However in most cases the clothes I create for artists are really unique pieces and I never make them again. They in fact not only represent the artist but also his personality and above all the particular message he wanted to communicate in that moment. If someone likes a certain piece worn by a star in atelier he will find other ten ones as much beautiful that narrate similar worlds. Then I think that it could become a kind of fetish having for example the same jacket worn by Loredana Berté. On the other side, we made some charity actions: for example with Patty Pravo and Emergency we made an auction with some jackets exclusively designed for the Italian singer, but in that particular occasion the aim was different.

F: Is it different dressing up a rockstar, a stage person and ordinary people?

G: Everyone is a unique person, with a own personality and story. The different between real world and showbiz is the stage and this determines particular technical needs. But at a psychological level I see no differences.

F: Is it true that in showbiz there exist forbidden colors? I’m thinking about purple…

G: They’re just personal superstitions. Someone doesn’t care about it, someone is more worried. There’s no rule. For example, I realised for Patty a piece using a blue textile enriched by purple shades.

Patty Pravo in Gianluca Saitto
Patty Pravo in Gianluca Saitto

F: Are there telegenic, photogenic clothes and other ones that are not so charming seen throughout TV or photographic lenses

G: Absolutely! I work also in theatre.This is a very separate world. Here you have to think that the piece won’t be seen at 50 cm distance and you’re not in a movie where the camera can zoom on details showing a precious embroidery. In theatre the first seats are at a minimum of 30 metres distance so it’s useless making millimetric embellishments. No one will appreciate them.

F: Has it ever happen that an artist wanted clothe specifically thought for a song?

G: Yes, two years ago with Max Gazzè and his “Alchemaya” album. He told me the great research on the behalf of the album, on Dead Sea’s papyrus, on esoteric worlds… We began creating suits for his tour and then for the Festival di Sanremo. He said to me “I don’t want to wear classical suit las in a fashion show. I want to turn into a wizard, a shaman, an alchemist”. So I tried not to fall into kitsch and we made some outwear pieces that took inspiration from that particular world. For example we made a silk jacquard jacket with a tone color reminding that of mercury and with a central embroidery that represented a uroboro (a snake biting its tails). I studied the symbology of every single embellishment I inserted. Obviously a piece like that could seem “strange” in the daily routine, but designing a dress for an artist and designing a fashion collection are not the same. If Max Gazzè performed with classical suits, yes, he would be elegant but it wouldn’t be the same thing. The garment joins the artist’s soul, reflects his creativity. As a painter who makes a painting, a sculptor who makes a sculpture, a fashion designer makes a clothe thought as a work of art, wearable but always with a plus!

"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto
"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto

F: Are all bespoke fabrics?

G: When it is possible I create them personally. Obviously this is a work more complicated and expensive. The most simple thing which characterise my collections are patterns. For example “Unicorni” collection was born from those stretch satin patterns that portray the tapestries of Cluny Museum in Paris. Then I take inspiration from travels. A jacket comes from a textile I found in Beijing, another one from ancient sofa’s pillows I found in a castle. For other textiles I rely on a factory. I also like to play down with a black base making so the garment more important and wearable.

F: Some fashion trends paved their way also from several costumes and stage clothes worn by artists…

G: You’re right. Loredana Bertè for example told me – one of the numerous beautiful anecdotes I am lucky to hear from these people – that once, during the Festival di Sanremo, she worn a dress with zips details, later she met Valentino at the airport and he confessed her he to have appreciated the dress. Then randomly she found it in a collection.

F: Did the passion for fashion come before that for the showbiz?

G: Absolutely. Once you know fashion, you can fit it into all creative fields. As I told you before I work also in theatre, from opera to ballet, in the music, I do also some interior design, I really like that!

F: Are you an architect, right?

G: Yes, I got my degree in architecture in Florence. However the course I preferred most, set design, was bond to show business. Before that I had attended Steiner school, a private school that cared about creativity, art and hand work. I have always had this passion. I remember that when we made the shows at the end of the school year I really liked realizing costumes and scenography.

"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto
"Unicorni" Collection by Gianluca Saitto