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Massimo Casagrande, Quintessential International Stylist and Designer…

Born in Italy, raised in South Africa and now living in London, Massimo Casagrande is the quintessential international stylist and designer... He started out studying graphic design, then studied fashion design in Milan and went on to work for Versace.... now his clients range from Tom Ford to the English National Ballet and he's launching a new fashion label.
Massimo Casagrande curated fashion illustrator Patrick Morgan's second solo exhibition in London.

Creative Mapping spoke with Massimo Casagrande about his inspiration for his forthcoming collection, as well his approach to work and creative blocks. Oh and what about the europop?

"Via the institute, I collaborated with clients including Tom Ford, Erdem, Richard Nicolls, English National Ballet and WGSN. I co-founded a menswear brand with a friend in 2006, Cross and Spot, but since 2008 I left to concentrate on my solo work and collaborations." Massimo Casagrande

CM: Where do you live and what did you study?
I live in Shoreditch, East London. I studied graphic design at the AAA College of Advertising in Johannesburg, South Africa then moved back to Italy to study Fashion Design at the Istituto Marangoni in Milan.

CM: Tell us a bit about what you do?
I enjoy having my fingers in all ‚“creative pies!‚ I'm a fashion designer and do consulting jobs with various clients. Currently I'm working on my new menswear shirt collection which is launching June 2012. I'm a tutor of Fashion Design at the UK campus of Istituto Marangoni, working with graduate master students, helping them build and design their final graduate collection. As a stylist, I'm a contributor to fashion magazines such as Surface, Rodeo and Independent style.

CM: How did you become a professional creative, who are your clients and how do you market yourself?
Upon graduating, my first job was for Versace where I was design assistant for Versus menswear, followed by designing for Versace Sport and Versace Jeans. I moved to London in 2004 and since living here have delved into various creative jobs. Working in London is really exciting; it's this hub of creativity. You're not put into a box/stereotyped. The fact that we all come from different fashion backgrounds is appealing to the UK fashion system and offers you different opportunities within the creative field. We all contribute in our own unique way. That's how I got into styling and working with magazines. Twice I styled the campaigns for Jane Carr (with whom I worked at Versace), an exciting new accessories brand, and I've styled photo shoots for various magazines. Via the Institute, I collaborate with clients including Tom Ford, Erdem, Richard Nicolls, English National Ballet and WGSN. I co-founded a menswear brand with a friend in 2006, Cross and Spot, but since 2008, I left to concentrate on my solo work and collaborations.

CM: Your work environment? What are your preferred working programs/tools/materials and 5 favourite tunes to work to?
At the moment I'm working mainly from home, my sitting room has been transformed into my studio, filled with magazines, books, images, and boards.
Most times when starting a collection I'm inspired by a photograph of someone, or an image. I get captured by its mood and that transports me to a certain place, and from there, the rest follows.

I look at artists for their use of textures, materials and colours. Catherine Story and Rebecca Warren are great for this. Catherine's new exhibition ‚“Angeles‚ was a great source of inspiration for my collection. She was referencing Picasso and Chaplin, whereas Warren has this contemporary Giacometti element in her sculptures, which again are closely linked to my collection. I'm also working on developing prints with artist Patrick Morgan.

I've recently completed a curating course at the Whitechapel gallery with Iwona Blazwick, (director of Whitechapel gallery) and have a modest collection of contemporary British artists, for whom I have a passion - so art for me is a great source of inspiration - I enjoy being surrounded by it. I'm always out at exhibitions and museums looking and researching.

Working with the English National Ballet and Victoria & Albert Museum is an excellent source for reference and inspiration. Looking at their archives, at all that history is overwhelming and fascinating.
When I actually come down to designing, I'm quite ‚“old school‚, I do all my illustrations and technical drawings by hand. This is something I've done since college, even during my days at Versace, everything was hand drawn. I have since started working on computers, and use photoshop to create my mood boards and my print designs.

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