A beautiful, restless idealist, a colour enthusiast, a passionate researcher and a strong believer that beauty is all around. Ioanna Solea is our 1 on 1 today. Ioanna and I go back to good old school days, she always stood out from the crowd. Never one to follow fashion per se she would take any item of clothing and turn it into a fashion statement leaving us all envious. Today, Ioanna Solea is living her dream. Residing in Milan with her husband and two children, she has her own accessory label IS, has launched the luxury apparel brand, Tredici Como and even finds time to do consulting for other brands.
Visiting her recently in Milan I walked away with her new s/s 19 ‘IN ‘N’ OUT’ bag. It’s amazing! One bag, two colours! It literally turns inside out!
Tell us three things about yourself.
I am a restless daydreamer that loves chocolate.
What sparkled your interest in fashion/ design?
It was a natural decision in my life. I just had an instinct-it was the right decision. It felt like, “this is where I’m meant to be,” and then I never looked back.
Which famous designer do you find inspiring and why?
We live in a very, very fast-paced world and so is fashion therefore tastes change rapidly as do the designers in the various houses.
I have always found Dries Van Noten’s work inspiring through the years. The way he mixes colours and patterns sometimes clashing them, sometimes harmoniously is so effortlessly fresh!
What was your biggest fear when you started your own luxury line/brand?
It kind of all came so naturally that there was no time for fear to be honest. I don’t really care about what other people think or say about my work as long as I am able to express my own world and style. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments that I feel a great sense of insecurity, I think it would be inhuman to have perfect confidence like that, but in the end I realise that the most important person that needs to be happy with the result is me.
What is your favourite part about being a designer?
When you do fashion or design, it is because you want to express something. Seeing an evolution of a thought, or a mood into reality is something beautiful. Seeing people wearing your clothes and accessories is what makes it all worthwhile.
Tell us briefly how the IOANNA SOLEA the brand evolved?
I’ve always been very much a multi-tasker and it all started at a time when I felt professionally mature. Being a pret-a-porter apparel designer and jumping into my own luxury accessories brand wasn’t something that I was planning on doing but it came so naturally and I liked the idea of challenging myself from a design point of view and doing different things. I’ve always done multiple projects at a time. It’s simply the way I like to work.
In 2018, my two partners and I also launched a luxury apparel brand named Tredici Como and I also do consulting for other brands. Let’s just say I like to keep myself busy 🙂
How do you want women to feel when wearing your accessories?
Fashion is all about enjoying what you wear; feeling confident and ready to conquer the day! It is definitely supposed to be fun. That’s the ultimate goal.
Working with big names in Milan must have been a real eye opener. Who did you work with? What did it feel like? and what did it do for you?
I have been in the fashion business for 19 years! I worked for three years at Valentino and 8 years for Piazza Sempione. I just sort of absorbed everything. Fortunately,I made the right decision to be an assistant for a very long time and that kept me learning. I think both companies have influenced my work throughout my career. Experience builds up confidence and an understanding of the work-world that surrounds you and both companies have helped form me professionally. It was like balancing the dreams and imagination and creativity and art from the one side with something that’s practical and more commercial on the other and this has become the basis of my aesthetic today.
What pressures do designers face when putting together their own collection season after season?
It’s a tough industry, it’s a tough business. The expectations. It’s a lot of pressure. And the commercial part! It is so difficult for emerging designers to get out there without real support. To be given a chance. Owning a famous designer item has always been a status symbol kind of thing and that does not make it easy for us new-comers.
How do you get unstuck creatively?
Well, it’s hard to be creative every day. I do think you need to be doubted in order to be creative.
You give yourself so much pressure and heartache to be creative every single hour of the day, sometimes you just need to walk away. And then it just happens. An idea, a concept, sometimes just a colour, just one small element of an artwork. It just naturally comes.
What is an important factor when putting together a collection?
For me it is to be emotionally happy with it, I work very much based on instinct. So I really just trust my gut; I’ve always operated like that in my life and my career.
I’m what you also called a daydreamer. I’m into building a whole world that I’m excited about. It keeps it fresh for me. I create a world for me to live in. That’s the fun part.
Tell us about this season’s collection!
For the first time I presented my new Fw19 accessories collection during the Milan fashion week rather than Paris.
It is inspired by the English countryside, a girl in the fields; with its tartans, herringbones, fox fur, roses and all that is bizarre and beautiful. The collection is enriched with a variety of high quality material and meticulously made embroidery.