[Katherine Roberts-Wood takes home award for Fashion Collection of the Year. Instagram: @grazia_live]
“The transformation of the material from a flat thing to something incredible became my obsession,” said ITS founder Barbara Franchin on the turning point which came little after her graduation from high school, and found her enthralled in a world of creativity which birthed International Talent Support aka ITS. Now in its thirteenth year, the competition gives visibility to young design talent from every corner of the globe.
Previous finalists from renowned fashion schools – Central Saint Martins in London, Institut Francais de la Mode in Paris, The Royal Academy of Art in Antwerp – have gone on to work for renowned fashion houses – Lanvin, Dior, Armani, to name but a few. Which is why, this past weekend, a usually-quiet town in Italy was descended upon by top designers, fashion insiders, past contestants and, of course, Grazia Daily for the thirteenth year of ITS in Trieste.
We spoke to ITS jury members head honcho Barbara Franchin, Diesel designer Nicola Formichetti, superstar blogger Susie Bubble and SHOWStudio Head of Fashion Film Marie Schuller to find out what they look for in terms of a winner and more.
[Sitting in on the judges deliberating. Instagram: @grazia_live]
What the Jury are looking for:
“It’s not like X-Factor, they’re not there to perform and be like a super amazing spokesperson” superstar blogger and second time ITS jury member Susie Bubble told us on the almost impossible task of narrowing down the 11 ITS fashion finalists into a select few.
The aesthetics of the collections is, in fact, just one on a long list of criteria: “it’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” Susie continued, “you have to think about which prizes are suitable for that person; it’s not just about the best collection, it’s about whether they’ll put that money to good use and whether they have the potential.”
The jury, which this year included Marni’s Consuelo Catiglioni, SHOWStudio’s Nick Knight and of course Diesel's (a brand which has been with ITS since its inception) Nicola Formichetti, among others, score each collection on a scale of one to ten before retiring to deliberate the final winners (at length, apparently).
And neither the deliberation nor the competition itself is an easy feat, with competitors, who come from top schools the world over, expected to be the complete package in hopes of being afforded the chance to win one of ITS’ lucrative prizes.
“The time of the couturier is finished,” explains Nicola Formichetti. “You need to do lots of different things… it needs to be a package of how you dress, how you present yourself and of course the collection and how the collection was made and your vision for the future.”
Susie Bubble agrees: “Because they’re all very technically accomplished, you expect obviously that the garments are well made and technically there, so then beyond that you’re kind of looking for how much conviction they have in their work,” she explains. “If they can’t explain why they’re doing things it’s normally a sign that they’re not that connected with what they’re doing.”
ITS head honcho Barbara Franchin also looks for an element of undeniability: “When you see, you understand what you like,” she explains. “You get goosebumps… you look and you say ‘Ohmygosh I love that! I love that and how they hell did they make it!?’ When you think this, you are there.”
[Our @moorizZLA with Diesel's Nicola Formichetti. Instagram: @grazia_live]
Everyone's (kinda) a winner
It’s not just the monetary rewards [over €90,000 in total (!)] which separates ITS from others of its kind, or that proves oh so lucrative to its contestants. With a jury positively bursting with some of the most established individuals in their fields, it’s more than those who go home with bulging bank accounts that can consider themselves lucky. Just being there is enough to catapult each and every finalist into a lucid dream of their own making: “It’s kind of like a careers meet and greet,” explains Susie Bubble. “Even if they don’t win someone on the jury might use them for a shoot or something… “Everyone’s a winner once you’ve made it this far; you’ve got 10 people and you really remember all 10 of them."
And it’s not just the competitors who are benefitting. “We need them for inspiration and they need us for support,” says Nicola. Diesel owner Renzo Rosso wholeheartedly agrees: “Young creativity is like virgin blood – there is no contamination… what [the contestants] have done is something totally out of the world but you can see how they can do different things. Senior creativity can utilize this detail; this is why we need fresh blood.”
[Diesel Award finalists and winner. Instagram: @grazia_live]
Samsung and Diesel collaboration
Samsung, who this year had a presence at ITS for the first time with their Samsung Galaxy special prize award have also just announced a collaboration with Diesel. “I love technology and I think them today are the most important, the most professional, the most avant garde in terms of technology and… it can be nice start to see if we can do something together,” Diesel owner Renzo Rosso tells us. Head of Samsung, who we also had an exclusive chat with echoed Rosso's sentiments: "He's a technology guy and I really admire the philosophy and spirit of his openness and creativity."
What exactly the collaboration will entail is not yet certain, but Renzo hints at some exciting advances: "It would entail communication, the screens for the store, the way to do windows..." he says. Samsung adds: "We have huge potential together... I would like to learn first of all how the brand can be successful as Diesel... and then maybe we can do more exciting things together since he has has a lot of creative ideas, why not?"
ITS going forwards
As for the future of ITS? “We started with one area and now we have four areas and one special project. In our lucid dream we have video competition, food competition, interior design competition, creative writing competition,” Barbara Franchin says animatedly. “I’m not a special fan of fashion, I’m a lover of creativity,” she concludes.
[ITS finale fashion show. Instagram: @grazia_live]
Words of wisdom
Surprisingly (or not) it seems to mainly come down to one fundamental quality: Be Nice. “I think niceness is quite underrated in this industry,” said Susie Bubble. “Just don’t be a dick, basically… I think the industry can nurture quite a lot of attitude and it’s not necessary.”
Nicola echoes this sentiment: “Be humble,” he stresses. “There’s no space for divas anymore. You have to listen to people, collaborate… if you’re a designer you have to direct up to 100 people and if you’re a dictator they will leave. They’ll go somewhere else so it’s really important that you’re a nice person.”
SHOWStudio’s Marie Schuller also stresses the importance of originality: “Start with things that are really close to yourself because they’ll make you unique,” she explains. “You don’t have to compete with the best of the best, just compete with yourself.”
As for Barbara Franchin? Her lucid dream of ITS came into fruition thanks to Diesel’s Renzo Rosso who she explains believed in her even when she had nothing but an idea. This gift of belief is something she passes on to ITS contestants: “This is the continued thing we do; we believe in you, we believe in you, we believe in you,” she says, punctuating each sentence with a thud on the table. And really, that’s a pretty awesome gift in and of itself.
Check out the contestants collections in the gallery below and find out more about the winners here.