Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini is one of those rare fashion houses that has achieved a strong brand identity without resorting to flashy, brash marketing – the clothes say enough. The Philosophy woman is a lover of print, colour and volume. She dashes to her date at the gallery; she tucks into an overladen table with her family; she gets lost in her creative pursuits; she’s exactly the woman everyone wants to be. The genius behind the brand lies in its refusal to follow fashion’s dictates. When you slip on a Philosophy garment, you’re not following a trend, instead, you’re slipping on an heirloom, a dress that will be steeped in happy memories. Philosophy’s sense of style is in your blood, and not dependent on what’s in your wallet.
Lorenzo’s path to design was a well-trodden one where he worked his way up from university to the high fashion rails. So what is it that separates Lorenzo from the rest of the fashion pack? Fashion legend Alberta Ferretti has so much faith in, and respect for, Lorenzo’s vision that she’s willing to put his very name on her spin off line: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini. The duo’s symbiotic relationship is proof that even in the midst of global turmoil, work is better together. In this new virtual world, we sought out long-term fashion stalwarts for advice and who better to ask than Lorenzo Serafini?
Words by Charlie Newman.
Lorenzo Serafini's portrait by Ezra Petronio courtesy of Philosophy.
This is an interview extract. Find out the full version in the Fall Winter 2020 Issue 5.
Was fashion a world that you were aware of growing up? Did you admire it from afar or were you immersed in it from a young age?
I don’t come from a fashion-centric family. When I was little I used to go to the newsagents to buy lots of magazines – these gave me a glimpse of what the fashion world looked like. I still collect them to this day and when I’m travelling abroad, I always look forward to going to a local newsagent to hunt for my favourite titles.
Let’s talk about the early stages of your career.
My studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan showed me what fashion really was. I spent beautiful years there, immersed in a world where everyone lived and breathed fashion. This gave me an opportunity to study hard and start working. I strongly believe that university is essential to shape, discipline and mentor young minds.
You then progressed on to working with some of the biggest names in fashion including: Dolce and Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli and Blumarine. What did you learn from these experiences?
Mostly, I learned how to express my creativity and the rules of the fashion process. I met the greatest stylists and photographers who showed me the ropes. Everything I learned over the years shaped me and I brought it all to Philosophy, what I call ‘my brand’.
Everything I learned over the years shaped me and I brought it all to Philosophy, what I call ‘my brand’.
Now it’s your name is on the label, is there more or less pressure?
I never felt as much responsibility as the first time I saw the label of my brand! There’s pressure in every job, but, at the same time, seeing my name on the wall in my office and on every item I design excites and motivates me to work harder.
We can’t talk at the moment without addressing the effect of Covid-19. How has it affected both you, personally, and your brand. What brought a smile to your face and kept you going?
I spent the majority of lockdown at my family home where we have a big beautiful garden. Witnessing the flowers bloom and plants growing day-by-day always puts a smile on my face. I like staying close to nature so I set up this mini design studio under a tree where I spent most of my days. I must say I’ve been very lucky. My family, my loved ones and myself are all in good health which I am grateful for.
What challenges have you faced with Philosophy during this time?
Our stores in London and Rome were closed and the summer collection arrived when the lockdown was due to start. We worked hard and it was a shame to not have been able to share it as we would have liked to. Despite living in a digital era, the experience of shopping in a boutique is unique.
You’ve been on such a long journey within the fashion industry, travelling through the development and adoption of the internet and social media particularly. Do you think the ‘Golden Age’ of fashion is over or are you welcoming change?
I do think that the ‘Golden Age’ of fashion has passed. It was rich, glamorous and full of supermodels in the 90s and 00s. We live in a different era now, a digital one. We transfer and showcase our emotions digitally. This “phygital” is a mix of the real and the virtual. It’s a brand new and completely different chapter in fashion history.
What drives your imagination as a designer and keeps you inspired?
For me, it’s thinking about women wearing my creations and then seeing their smiles in the pictures they post to Instagram. It’s great when I meet them and can listen to their feedback.
Whilst your brand is very Italian, you have previously quoted Lady Diana as a muse. What is it about her, British style and London in particular that you love?
I love London. I love British culture. It’s an important part of my life and my vision. Diana knew how to turn heads with her looks while remaining elegant. I think she was a very romantic lady – exactly like my Philosophy woman.
Read Lorenzo Serafini's interview in the Fall Winter 2020 Issue 5. Get your copy here.