It’s the kind of book that doesn’t lend itself well to lengthy afternoon reads. It’s difficult, it’s abrasive, and it’s staunchly dense, and so as intriguing as it is repelling.
But that’s exactly like me. When people first meet me they are drawn in but it soon becomes too much for them and they push away.
Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,
Danilo Venturi is a writer, lecturer, consultant and Head of the Business & Communications Department at Polimoda. He recently published his second book, which is introduced and curated by Linda Loppa. Every line within this book is full of embedded meanings, even the title, Momenting the Memento. Venturi uses words as his medium, and he does whatever he wants with them. Chopping, erasing, inserting; each word becomes an encrypted collage of itself. It’s part etymology and part self-serving word-play.
I use a metalanguage like fashion for telling about what I want to say as a person. It’s my personal escape. Everything here is about me; there’s no difference between the person and the book.
Venturi suggests a new context for words (or words within words), creating a dialogue that, beyond himself, is trying to catalyse a new context for fashion. He recognises some of the out-dated systems in fashion that, ironically within the format of a printed book and not, say, newer forms of communications like the internet, are brought into new light.
My way of writing is like using hyperlinks, and the continual references to music are the same; it completes what I write or even acts as a substitute for what I cannot. Also because I want to reach the reader with different senses, somehow.
With all credit to Venturi, despite the book’s inherent difficulty, the time spent away from it between reads doesn’t detract from the experience. Its tone and style is unwavering, and the completely original dialogue is persistent, resonating. And after meeting with Venturi on a number of occasions to discuss his book and expand on his views, only more intrigue insists. Though it does beg the question, can people who haven’t encountered him in person really understand or even engage with the text?
I think yes, to a certain level. Some people will understand everything, some nothing, and some will be inspired without knowing what’s the meaning is. But I’m not attached to one interpretation. The moment it went to print I let it go.
But honestly, I couldn’t care less. When you write you shouldn’t think of the reader because you change what you write in order to manipulate them. I’m not trying to manipulate anyone.
And when we spoke of the inherent problems in the industry, according to Venturi, it seems to boil down to a certain kind of manipulation of designers.
?You know that birds always sing better when they're in a cage?
For some designers, in the past they were caged but the door was open. When you’re young, your age serves as the open door; you can afford to make mistakes and lose. When the cage is fully closed, however, designers have everything to lose. Think of Galliano; Dior didn’t dismiss Galliano. Galliano dismissed Dior, but he just found the worst way to do it. He was very much part of the industry that’s squeezing designers with all the doors closed.
For me something died when he was exiled, and also when McQueen died. You only have to look at Yamamoto’s recent collaboration to see there’s no religion in fashion anymore. But to say ‘fashion is dead’ is too easy. Though perhaps a certain kind of fashion died.
I don’t know where we can go from this.
And so what happens next? Venturi admits that he doesn’t know, but believes that a positive way forward can only happen in a context of education.
We should investigate the role of the designer. This is a debate we’re having at school the moment, especially between myself, Linda [Loppa, Director of Polimoda] and Patrick [de Muynck, Head of Design at Polimoda]. It’s controversial and contradictory because none of us has the answer.
Next week, there will be a global conference on fashion education hosted by Polimoda in stunning locations around Florence. The conference holds the same theme as Venturi’s book, Momenting the Memento. It’s setting the stage for a moment; a moment of dialogue, learning and perhaps, change.
(Short film by digital warrior, Gianpaolo D'Amico)