Ermanno Scervino's unique aesthetic has made him a favourite with women who love adding an edge to their personal style, while also appreciating excellence in craftsmanship and Italian-made quality. Areas always championed by Mr. Scervino.
It goes without saying that your designs are extraordinarily beautiful; what strikes me often about your pieces is their very tactile nature. One wants to touch the fabrics, be enveloped in them: the silks, the fur, the cashmere, macramé, the ultra supple leather and suede… How do you go about selecting your materials? Where do they come from? Do you select them all personally?
Fabrics are like the foundations of a house. My research starts with fabrics, which I have made exclusively for me; 90% of all the textiles I use are made in Italian factories.
The workmanship that goes into all your styles is quite elaborate and unique. You are one of the few designers who has not taken production abroad and invested in Italy instead. You speak with justified pride of your 'Made in Florence' choice. Is this kind of workmanship a dying art? How can you encourage young tailors and seamstresses to take up this noble and challenging profession?
Sadly the craft of hand tailoring is at risk of becoming obsolete, and with it Italian-made excellence that is very much appreciated all over the world. When we took over a small knitwear factory with just 15 expert workers, with detailed know-how in the most intricate techniques, everyone called us crazy; but we have always believed in the art of handcraftsmanship. This is why I keep on telling young people that they need to learn to work with their hands alongside computers; computers are not enough.
You have spoken of the importance of being surrounded by Tuscan colours and atmosphere; after having lived a very cosmopolitan life, from New York to Paris to London: what drew you to settle in Florence?
I chose Florence because in the 1980s it was a world-famous fashion capital. Florence and Tuscany generally are really special and unique places with extraordinary traditions, culture, colours and landscapes. To this day one can find a rare knowledge of craftsmanship here, the very same that our cosmopolitan and international clients expect from Italian fashion. However, it is equally important for me to travel and visit world capital cities.
Often your styles are very, very sensual, but never cross the line into vulgarity. They have a rock and roll edge yet are supremely refined and sophisticated. How do you maintain that delicate balance?
‘Rock-couture’ is a part of my style. I like the femininity and the seduction that a dress can convey, but it is also very important that a woman feel comfortable in the clothes she wears. One of my favourite challenges to this day is designing a dress about five minutes before a woman realises she wants it.
How did you evolve from outerwear to evening gowns?
The secret of my success came from teaming slip dresses with couture puffer jackets, and letting them show through intentionally like lingerie. Head to toe looks with unexpected pairings have always been part of my design ethos.
You have also done some costume designing; is it something you would enjoy doing more of? Is there a director or an actor/actress you would like to work with?
There are lots of actresses I’d like to work with. Angelina Jolie for example. She is the embodiment of utter elegance on the red carpet, and then the next day she’s a spokeswoman for human rights and charities. She always steps up to the plate and really is the ideal Ermanno Scervino Woman.
Do you think your background in architecture influences the way you work as a designer? Buildings are solid: your pieces on the other hand have an ethereal quality to them.
Thanks to my background I can speak of a different kind of architecture – the architecture of the body.
Who is the Ermanno Scervino woman?
She’s an urban princess, a contemporary, glamorous and elegant woman, who gives back to society and above all, is not a victim of her clothes and fashion.
Since the birth of Ermanno Scervino, you have done it all: women’s, men’s, and children’s collections. Is there something you haven’t done yet that you would like to do?
I enjoy challenges. And I want to continue to dream…
The creative mind rarely rests; when you do, what do you like to do?
I read and take long walks with my dogs.