September 05 2009
As a mother of two with a high-end job, the lifestyle of fashion designer Colomba Leddi mirrors that of her clientele. A coterie of super-stylish professional women have been patronising her ever since 1996, when she opened her atelier on the ground floor of the apartment block where she was born and still lives. As a girl, a future in fashion looked assured, for she loved to run up hats and gloves from scraps of knitwear. Yet she only turned to fashion after studying the flute at Milan’s music conservatory. “Music teaches you mathematics, precision, symmetry and repetition,” she observes as we chat in her wooden-floored, sage-painted showroom, which is furnished with vintage mirrors and an antique table, “and those qualities can be very useful in fashion.” Certainly, they are evident in her collections, which are distinguished by their pure proportions. “I don’t like to disrupt the natural line of the body,” she explains. “I prefer to make little alterations, to the shoulder, say, or the sleeve, that bring about an overall equilibrium.”
Her sense of line is married to a painterly awareness for surface. “I am passionate about colour,” she says, gesturing to a faded colour chart that belonged to her artist father and still provides inspiration. Her base palette tends towards saturated hues such as indigo, turquoise and peacock, heightened with subtle details: hand-painted graphics on sleeves and pockets, contrasting seams and buttonholes and sumptuous linings.
This year her collection has been transformed by the inclusion of a new print. Leddi asked the photographer Melina Mulas to shoot a group of friends and clients wearing her designs at various events. As an experiment, Leddi printed the photographs onto bolts of fabric. The clothing, models and backgrounds blended into haphazard, abstract patterns that made stunning textile prints and the ensuing collection, which celebrates the label’s 10th anniversary, blurs the boundaries between art and fashion. The Cervo coat (€686) features handprints down one sleeve, while the Marmotta coat (€744) owes its poetry to a snow-smothered tree trunk and a red-and-white umbrella. Daino, a gilet (€293), is decorated with a dislocated Liberty architectural detail.
The new fabric also features as the lining of a forest-green wrapover coat (Pernice, €852) and on the buttonholes and internal seams of Volpe, a tapered Japanese cotton jacket (€540). The pieces mix and match with her cashmere sweaters (€200), scarves (€110), bags (Alice shopping bag, €90) and pochettes (€75).
Much as she loves pattern, Leddi’s first love will always be colour, and she hand-dyes each piece of cloth or garment to exactly the right shade. “I do it by instinct – like cooking,” she laughs, “except I can’t cook!” And she rushes off to collect her two children from her mother’s flat upstairs where they are having lunch.