Meshing tyre print with flora, harsh latex with wear-ability and dark colours with bright, Rome-born designer Flaminia Saccacci has certainly pricked a few ears since her award-winning graduation show at Central Saint Martins in May. Whipped-up soon after by Givenchy, we spoke to her just two weeks into the challenging new role.

Congratulations on pocketing a L’Oreal Professional Young Talent Award for your Saint Martins graduation collection. How and when did you conceive the ideas for it and in what way did you go about bringing them to life?

The ideas came from researching tyre-marks after stumbling upon the work of this artist called Paolo Caneveri. I wanted to represent the tyre in the garment without it seeming too masculine. I tried to use it in a feminine way, for balance. I always want my designs to be very feminine and wearable – but there is always a dark twist to them. Latex was the fabric I decided on, but I knew I didn’t want to use it in an expressly sexy way. I wanted the dresses to be cut in a really sharp and covering way. The fabric was used in a fairly unconventional way: not stretched tightly at all. It’s a sharp fit, but not stretched.

Was designing with latex problematic?

It depends. For shaping, no, but for printing, it’s difficult, yes. Not many people use latex for this reason, because the ink usually runs. I had to use a lot of trial and error, but I found a solution in the end, which I don’t tell anyone [laughs].

Some of the collection is on display at Browns, London. How did this come about?

They sent me an email saying they really liked the collection, and invited me to the shop for a meeting. From there we discussed what items would work in the shop – what would be wearable and practical for everyone, whatever size. We discussed what shapes would be easiest to wear, bearing in mind the impracticalities of latex – like jackets or sleeveless pieces. So we added a few twists to the collection, and it’s a really nice outcome. The first few pieces that sold were leather jackets – the latex pieces and bags are selling quite well, too.

Obviously you had a lot of attention after the Saint Martins show – did you have lots of people approaching you with offers?

Right after, yes: many other shops, stylists and buyers contacted me. It’s been really, really great, but at this early stage I need to be careful – I need to make the right decisions, keep working hard and avoid buying into hype.

Let’s talk about your fascination with Canevari’s work. Perhaps, on some level, his emphasis on art as ephemeral statements influenced your focus on flowers and tyre marks…

Not specifically to this collection, no, but I am really interested in what’s ephemeral and the cultural and historical importance of the items we wear. You want to make a beautiful piece, but that’s not its only function – people have to actually wear it. I want my garments to be worn by people and not just be left in the cupboard.

Were you interested in design as a youngster?

Yes, I used to draw a lot and make paper dresses for my dolls. I’ve always loved the history of art, too. The Gallery of Modern Art is close to my family home in Rome – I’d go there after school.

Your work was selected for the ‘British-ish’ exhibition at the V&A, which ended in September. Tell us how this came about…

It was an exhibition curated by the University of the Arts, London. It compiled all the best graduates from universities across the UK that year. I have to say, I was really pleased that Giles [Deacon, designer] selected the two items he did, because they’re my favourite pieces from it.

How has your work and influences changed since graduating and moving to Paris to work under Riccardo Tisci, whom you again pigeonhole as an influence?

I’ve only been here for two weeks, but I have to say, Givenchy really suits my natural style. As I said, I love the femininity of garments – the idea that you make dresses to catch peoples’ eye – but you’re not giving too much away. There’s always a dark twist to my pieces, though, moody aspects, which I really associate with Givenchy. Because of this similarity, I don’t have to adapt or change my style too heavily. We’re currently working on a pre-collection, which will be ready for December.

Has working and living in Paris influenced your creativity?

Oh, hugely. It’s all just so elegant and so beautiful – it seems people find easy ways of just looking so perfect here. You really want to do this justice with your work – simplistic and minimalist, but totally beautiful nonetheless, and make things that don’t take too much effort to wear and look good in any occasion.

Some of Flaminia Saccucci’s Saint Martins collection will go on sale again at JOYCE Boutique in February.
Words: Jack Mills