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On the hunt for talent at the International Talent Show

Between cocktails with Demna and a fashion show

On the hunt for talent at the International Talent Show Between cocktails with Demna and a fashion show

When we think of fashion in Italy, Trieste is certainly not the first place that comes to mind. The capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia is a border town, with one foot on one side and the other on the other, so to speak, and has welcomed the best fashion talent from around the world over the past 20 years - the cradle of tomorrow's fashion, through which names like Matthieu Blazy, Chopova Lowena and Demna have passed, to name just a few. After a setback due to the pandemic, ITS, International Talent Support, is back with "The Ark of Creativity", the 20th edition of the project born from the ambition and desire of founder Barbara Franchin. «My hair must stand on end,» she says when I ask her what she looks for in an up-and-coming designer. «When that happens, it means there's something there. A concept that's hard to put into words. The work behind the collection, the shapes he's carved out, the processing techniques or the new and never-before-seen materials.» It's a diversity that's also reflected in the awards given, which in a sense can do justice to any fashion idea, from the more practical one by Charlie Constantinou, who won the ITS Arcademy Award with his Gorpcore tie-dye inspired by the tribes of Canada and Alaska, to the sustainability-focused one by Mata Durikovic, a Slovakian designer who won the ITS Media Award with her "crystal leather bioplastic," an edible material the designer creates herself in her kitchen.

Also in attendance were OTB Award winner Lili Schreiber, ITS Responsible Creativity Award winner Victor Salinier, ITS Digital Fashion Award winning couple Zong Bo Jiang & Xiaoling Jin, and many others. But aside from the celebration of fashion and talent that Barbara Franchin and ITS have been hosting for 20 years, what was really surprising about these two days was the family feeling that was created around the event, a time of "togetherness" to share ideas and stories. So you end up listening spellbound to Deanna Ferretti's stories about her meetings with Martin Margiela, or chatting in the hotel lobby with Imran Amed, founder and CEO of The Business of Fashion: «The first thing I look for in a young designer is creativity, not just in the design of the collections, but in the totality of their work. Yesterday we looked at portfolios, which says a lot about a designer's vision. The second thing that interests me isn't so much the business side, but understanding how they can translate their creative vision into something that people want to buy. Fashion is a business based on creativity, but for that to continue, people have to buy the products. The third point that interests me is clarity in communication. They've to be able to explain their work, both in writing and verbally.»

As if all that weren't enough, ITS is also the place where you can randomly spend half an hour chatting with Demna, who won as a jury member in 2004, about his upcoming show in Paris - what he told me remains top secret, of course -while drinking a gin and tonic and eating a salami sandwich. This unique magic is preserved by the Museum of Art in Fashion, a place that combines archive, exhibition space, and academy, bringing together twenty years of ITS contest with the work of designers who've passed through Trieste. While we've to wait until spring 2023 for the official opening, we are lucky ones had the opportunity to visit the exhibition and admire Matthieu Blazy's portfolio from 2006 or "Fully dressed without a smile" from Demna's collection from 2004. Looking at the creations in the museum really makes you realize the work ITS has done over the years - something that goes beyond simple scouting and is, in many cases, something like supernatural foreshadowing.