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Less than three years ago, Italian-born French-trained (École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture) fashion designer Albino D’Amato, aka Maison Albino, was preparing for a soon-to-be lavish career while serving as a draftsman and intern for French giants Emanuel Ungaro, Guy Laroche (under the artistic direction of Alber Elbaz, now with Lanvin) and Lolita Lempicka.

Now he has weaved together the elegance and elitism of French, Italian, Japanese, and American style into his measures as he architects the female frame. He mimics the French philosophy of couture while loosely capturing the angles of Asian culture. His precision and esteemed quality stem from the blood of Italian fashion culture, and his conceptual development is looming in the American dream. This unusual combination of influences which produced a  clean and still exotic collection this past season is what’s buzzing in the material world. More prompting about Albino is his fusion and balance between French and Italian design. Though the two countries battle on the field of hierarchy from fashion and football to flavors, Albino recognizes both the experimental approach to French design and the strong traditions of Italian fashion legacy. “Italian fashion came from families, without a strong design sense and without conceptual designers. French couture was a designer concept about being original. Italians would pride themselves in the best manufacture, made by hand and later with technology for sewing, allowing fabrics accessible to many people. Meanwhile the French had a taste for more rich materials and decoration. This is my spark. The clothing can be elaborate, it doesn’t need to fit the body.”

Architecturally sound and a man of spatial design in cognate, Maison Albino graces somewhere between Renzo Piano and flowers from the Bellagio Casino. His architecture background, including his renowned business partner and architect Gianfranco Fenizia, is his prominent influence in his geometric landscapes regarding his fashion sense. Among his top inspirations for his Winter 2012 collection is Geoffery Beane, whom he refers to for minimalism (“but not like Calvin Klein” he peeps.) – as always glamorous and chic, with some burrow of surprise or decoration. “Sometimes I think of a New Yorker asking their mother to go visit a Rothko painting between the 50s and 80s, and I want to put it all together in a piece.” And that’s exactly what he did with his Audrey Jacket. Based off a Rothko painting, this A-line, baby-blue known as “Carta Zucchero” is comprised of double wool with a silk gaza interior and a seamless accentuated neckline. Apart from his seamlessness, another Albino trademark is his approach to natural presence, commonly avoiding visible stitching.

Albino stretches his ideas further with Las Meninas,Flemish altarpieces, and kimonos. During a trip to Sicily he began the push towards more rich and opulent colors,  droving him to the Baroque period. And when Valezquez came to mind, without hesitation he was off with 17th-century paintings at the drawing board. “The idea was not to take the Baroque elements but the philosophy – curvy lines and mixing round with straight to avoid being logical. I wanted to extract not the decoration of the Baroque period but the philosophy – something exaggerating on volumes at the same time elegant not excessive.” And so he began reworking these ideas on a computer to create prints. “It’s a process like that in developing a concept.”

Albino with his small frame and humble demeanor has dressed some large names: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, the Queen Rania of Jordan,  Ladytron members, and several Italian actresses as the list goes on. But Albino doesn’t design with the female figure in mind. “Everyone woman has to wear it” so he begins from structure with fabric. His touch is organic, allowing the fabrics to create shape and with the difficult fabrics he selects “this process creates many stories.” He envisions personalities with his clothing. “Kristen Dunst, Christina Ricci are bold, not physically perfect but big with personalities.” He applauds designers Cristobal Balenciaga, Valentino, Jean Patou, Givenchy and he praises Miuccia Prada. When asked which Italian designer has had the biggest influence on the fashion world, without hesitation: “Prada. Miuccia Prada is the only Italian designer I look to and think ‘what can I do?’ She is a person that is not trendy and follows her instinct. She has power to do what she wants and she doesn’t care about market. She has built that in 20-30 years of work experience with new form and material while keeping Italian manufacturers and fabrics but also mixing in art and architecture.”


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Written by Angela Gleason

Angela Gleason, graduated in Advertising from San Francisco's Academy of Art University, she rocks the international world on creative fronts as a dedicated slash girl: visual designer / soundsavant / writer / glam lush, for the story beyond the surface. Angela looks after the Catwalk Yourself blog.

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