The knitwear designer Deanna Ferretti Veroni began her career in fashion began 50 years ago. Her first “garage studio” opened in the early 1960s in Reggio Emilia, northern Italy. Not long afterwards she moved to nearby San Martino in Rio, as she needed a bigger space to enlarge her business, and it was here that she and her husband cofounded Miss Deanna Spa.
Over the years she has collaborated with the world’s most important designers: Kenzo, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Claude Montana, Krizia, Valentino, Lawrence Steele, Enrico Coveri, Maison Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Cathy Hardwick, Joseph, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Strenesse, Matthew Williamson, Neil Barrett, Thimister, Angelo Figus, to name just a few…
During her career, Ferretti Veroni had the foresight to retain all her most important work and research tools, which can now be found in the knitwear-archive-cum-library Modateca Deanna, the brainchild of her daughter, Sonia Veroni. Also in San Martino in Rio, it’s a treasure trove of more than 2,000 square metres where students, professionals and fashion insiders are able to visit to research and learn more about the knitwear world. Collections as well as prototypes produced in the 1960s can be found: vintage garments, accessories, swatches – showing different techniques, yarns, stitches and finishing – as well as iconographic materials from the beginning of prêt-à-porter history. Then there is also the huge library of more than 6,000 books (containing rare, limited and out-of-print editions), as well as university theses, look books, encyclopaedias, exhibition catalogues, and more than 30,000 vintage magazines from the worlds of fashion, costume, design, furnishings, architecture and travel.
We recently had the pleasure to talk to this icon of the fashion world.
How do you feel about fashion nowadays?
“I still find it exciting, especially when I see new projects, new faces and fresh ideas. Fashion is an ineluctable part of my life and I mostly like meeting with passionate students or young, talented designers from all over the world. Their energy, devotion and desire to learn and create something unique is always fascinating, a sort of restoring lymph to me.”
What is the secret to creating a good product?
“There is no secret. I believe it is always a result of many factors, such as creativity, research, innovation, courage and good taste.”
Professionally speaking, what has given you the greatest satisfaction?
“There have been many things – I have been lucky to work with extremely talented designers, people I really liked and with whom I could experiment and continuously learn from, both professionally and personally.”
What do you think about the approach to manufacture that is seen in Asia?
“I think that everyone can, with hard work and passion, learn how to manufacture something. It is the ‘philosophy’ that leads your life and business that can make the difference. I don’t believe a lasting, successful business can exist without a true respect for people and nature.”
What inspires you and makes you feel happy?
“I feel happy when I see young people focused on and engaged in learning new things, in pushing the boundaries and approaching the ‘unknown’ and the ‘different’ with positive energy – passionate warriors focused on changing their lives and their future for the better.”
What’s your opinion regarding the current new emerging designers in Italy?
“As regards anything, there are designers and projects that I like and that I respect more than others. The qualities I like to see in the new designers I meet are a hardworking and passionate attitude, a good work ethic and a clear aesthetic, and an endless curiosity for the world around them.”
What big differences have you noticed in the fashion industry now compared with 20 years ago?
“The more evident differences are globalisation, the internet and technology. The web has changed fashion forever. Ideas, images, knowledge and trends travel nowadays at the speed of light. Everyone has easy access to information and to high fashion as well as ‘street’ fashion. Through the web people can access almost everything, including shopping at any time of the day. New technology has changed the timing of fashion, accelerating the industry to a crazy extent – every aspect of it.”
How constructive do you feel the intersections between street fashion and catwalk fashion are?
“Everything can be constructive or destructive – it depends on the result of it. One of the latest examples of it could be Hedi Slimane’s collections for Yves Saint Laurent. To many, it was a ‘hard thing to see’, for me the result of ‘a vision’ of an extremely talented and foresightful designer.”
Can you tell us a bit about Pour Toi?
“Pour Toi was a very successful fashion project that I really enjoyed. The collections were a result of a great team – a young architect/graphic designer, a young artist and me – that approached fashion as only one possible way to communicate an idea or point of view. I was the only one in our team with a direct knowledge and experience in fashion. The idea beyond Pour Toi was to create a conceptual high-end collection that would approach knitwear in a different way – with a ‘storytelling approach’ composed from many different pieces, such as accessories, that could be combined and layered as desired.”
Why did the project end?
“It ended when the ‘team’ broke up. It happens in music all the time, it happened for us as well. I didn’t want to bring in other creative partners for this very fortunate adventure – I chose to stop the brand, instead of ‘changing’ the spirit of it. I didn’t want to ruin what had been achieved up until then.”
And what about Joseph?
“With Joseph I had a wonderful, long partnership and a great friendship. He was an extraordinary man – intelligent and a visionary. He anticipated fashion trends, he influenced London’s style scene with savoir-fair and wit for many years. He wasn’t a proper ‘fashion designer’, he was the ‘fashion trendsetter’.”
Milan, Paris, New York or…?
“Roma, Madrid, Barcelona, São Paulo, Moscow, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul… ”
Do you have any particular icon – or icons?
“It is impossible to name my icons, there are too many of them. I find iconic anything that may inspire in me a positive thought.”
Photography by Massimo Pamparana
Words and styling by Silvia Bergomi
Model: Lina Spangenberg at Elite
Photographer’s assistant: Luca Giorla
- Sweater by Pour Toi by Miss Deanna spring/summer 1986, skirt by Pour Toi by Miss Deanna autumn/winter 1986/87, trainers by Reebok.
- Sweater by Pour Toi by Miss Deanna spring/summer 1986, dress by Lawrence Steele by Miss Deanna spring/summer 1999, trainers by Adidas Originals.
- Sweater/dress by Pour Toi by Miss Deanna autumn/winter 1985/86.