Couture and dance meet on the virtual catwalks of French high fashion thanks to the elective bond between Sofia Crociani, founder of the ethical and sustainable ecological art-to-wear AELIS, and Jacopo Godani, artistic director and choreographer of the Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company. For the presentation of the AELIS Couture fall winter 2020 2021 collection the two conceived and implemented “Angelness”, performance art film (you can see it at this link) that after the launch on Tuesday 7 July at 17, will remain on the home page on the website of the Fédératione de la Haute Couture et de la Mode for the entire fashion week and online for two months, as well as on the web of the New York Times, Canal Plus and other sister platforms.
On the eve of a launch that no one would have imagined in such a way, Sofia and Jacopo they told us with what assumptions they found themselves creating a video performance that after the presentation of the collection will be able to live its own life.
Sofia: Jacopo and I are like brother and sister. We met in our 20s in Paris: I had just finished the Fashion Institute of Technology, arriving from Florence after studying classical literature and architecture, while he began his independent career as a dancer and choreographer, who from La Spezia had brought him to Béjart Mudra School in Brussels.
Jacopo: Since then we have not split up. Thanks to Sofia I have always maintained my contact with fashion: we went to the fashion shows together, while she made a name for herself working for Dior, Galliano, Lagerfeld. We formed our creative personality together, through an intense exchange that included other artistic expressions besides dance and fashion.
Did the ethical vision that you declare today unite you then?
Sofia: Yes. Together we shared not only an aesthetic research but immediately an ethical reflection on the meaning of what we were doing and our creative responsibilities. AELIS Couture was born inborn in the ecological commitment and with the dance Jacopo was already going in that direction.
Had you already worked together?
Jacopo: Yes, as Artistic advisor of the Mainz Ballet I introduced Sofia to the company and together we made some productions, in the sign of a contemporary vision of the repertoire.
And this time, with the difficulties of anti-Covid distancing, how did you work?
Jacopo: It was difficult but very interesting to shoot a video with an artistic interpretation while maintaining the sterility necessary for security measures. The contact took place only between dancers who were life couples, who had lived the quarantine together. But it opened our hearts to turn in that wonderful cathedral which is the Bockenheimer Depot, the former 500 square meter tram station where I had already set the installation selflessness (Https://www.vogue.it/news/article/danza-online-nuovi-video-ballerini-quarantena).
Sofia: Yes, arriving from Paris, where the situation was already very tense, to Frankfurt was for me like landing in a post-war city, all the more coming from my Tuscan countryside, where I had spent the lockdown immersed in the calm of nature. But entering the Bockenheimer Depot was a liberation: it was like being en plein air but protected, we finally found our freedom. There we let the clothes live, meeting with the dancers who animated and did them all by themselves, from dressing to make-up to hairstyles, not being able to be approached or touched.
Jacopo, what is the dramatic idea of Angelness, you who also shot the video and composed the music?
Jacopo: I wanted to represent the extreme contemporary romanticism of Sofia’s clothes. I imagined that those wonderful fabrics would fly and float in the air, combined with the naked or half-naked bodies of the dancers, as in Michelangelo’s frescoes for the Sistine Chapel. Working on the dramaturgy, images such as that of the dancer running away with a dress in his arms came out, as if to save him from the situation we were experiencing.
But to honor the collection I kept a certain neutrality in the choreography, with a very simple movement: it would have been futile to see the dancers dance, it was not meant to be a dance video. Editing did not have to be sophisticated either: it took very pure, dreamlike images; a body language was needed that evoked the wonder of the works of art created by Sofia. A performance and an art film that were silent, that did not impose themselves on the collection.
From the video it would be said that the collection is genderless, worn indifferently by male and female dancers.
Jacopo: Yes, it seemed to me that it was the right time to give representation also to this ethical message. Sofia’s creations are impressive in size and seeing a guy wearing them does them honor.
Sofia: Jacopo says it right: it’s time to tackle the gender issue too. On the other hand I have always created according to a concept of femininity that I define with the adjective “feminine”, which belongs neither to sex nor to birth. Our generation grew up with the clear idea of male and female, at most modifiable through sexual attributes, while the very young already practice gender freedom. And I think Jacopo has succeeded with Angelness to represent a femininity that chiuque can live as he feels.
Sofia, how would you tell this collection? Was it influenced by how long we lived?
Sofia: In drawing it we were inspired by the femininity of the silent film stars, such as Theda Bara or Francesca Bertini: silence also characterized our distance during the lockdown. We worked with the fabrics we had at home, but we always do this, because the impact of our creations on the planet must be minimal. Even the silhouettes are “evolutionary”, in the sense that they are added to other existing ones that are not eliminated: in this collection stands out a very elongated one, 1920s.
The fabrics are natural, as well as the techniques, without chemical processes that would damage the environment: for example, a silver applied on tulle that looks like metal to the soil, or a vintage silk dentelle because today there are no more hands capable of making it, or even a very light plissé silk handmade with an ancient Fortuny style.
The colors are also natural: powder pink, gray, silver as a common thread, with a touch of red that we love. Jacopo’s dancers wearing clothes are living sculptures, but also the most ecological expression of art because the body does not need anything else to show the artistic beauty of the gesture that accompanies it.
But how do you imagine the future of dance and fashion after Covid-19?
Jacopo: I imagine him injured, with great scars that we will carry with us, both artistically and economically, because the dance must be seen live and the damage will not be repaired until we can return to gather in the theater. With Sofia we have reflected a lot on how, as creatives, we will have to go back to living in society and working, without being enslaved by the frenzy of constantly producing originality. We will have to give ourselves the opportunity to reflect and be inspired, to honor our life as human beings, both physically and spiritually.
Sofia: What Jacopo says is beautiful. But our reflection was already born before Covid, a change was already taking place in us that should now involve everyone, globally. We feel violent spasms of the dying system and we will have to face a new era: I am already doing it with the calm of the clothes I create, living isolated, in the middle of the countryside. We cannot continue to consume a finite world indefinitely: the awareness of a few must concern everyone because it is now evidence.