September 6, 2021
Culture & Music
With women at the centre of her design process at Moncler, Veronica Leoni seizes every opportunity to challenge the status quo and promote gender equality. Having worked at two of the most amazing women-fronted fashion houses – under Phoebe Philo at Celine and Jil Sander, now heading up Moncler, Veronica is a champion of the female gaze and is supporting and empowering girls and young women through a spectrum of projects. We spoke to the designer about her new collection, sustainability and how London has influenced her design.
Maria Joudina: What do you think is the main difference between the male and female gaze when it comes to designing clothing for women
Veronica Leoni: Awareness and body consciousness.
MJ: What was the inspiration for the new 2 MONCLER 1952 collection? What is your design process like?
VL: I started working at the collection in July last year, when there were still many limitations and I found myself stretched between two very different feelings: a deep need for reassurance against a wild instinct towards the outside. I wanted to feel grounded and at the same time escape! During this time a dualistic soul was the beginning of the creative process and it’s mirrored in the design itself. I believe a collection can be a multi sensorial experience with layers of creativity lying under and above the clothes themselves. While I let my imagination find its own story to tell for the season, I actually like to touch and see. Visual and tactile to me become part of the process from the very beginning. I’m also devoted to pattern and 3D-ness: I spend a lot of my time working on the garments themselves in order to achieve the perfect shapes, nailing the volumes with original and recognisable details and features. I love to feel immersed in creativity and I’m terribly obsessed with details.
MJ: You worked at two of the most amazing women-fronted fashion houses – Phoebe Philo at Celine and Jil Sander, what was it like? What would you say are the main things you learned from them?
VL: Their way of being creative directors and leaders of two very successful fashion houses without giving up their womanhood. There’s a certain art and elegance in being at the top and act as a woman! And this was integral for both of them, Jil and Phoebe, and it was totally reflected in the design, the style and the community of women they gathered around themselves. As an active contributor to their philosophy, I felt so invincible and honoured.
MJ: How would you like the women wearing your clothing to feel in your pieces?
VL: Themselves. Empowered. Unique.
MJ: If the woman wearing your pieces was a character in a movie, who would she be?
VL: Anti-heroine of sorts, who does things her own way! It’s all about Nikita, Jane Eyre, Beatrix Kiddo, Mathilda and Joe March!
MJ: Where do you find inspiration?
VL: Everywhere! The limitations in travel and movement we are all experiencing are possibly what made me feel more fragile and isolated in carrying on with my job. I needed to learn a new practice to allow creativity to come from the most common things. Everything suddenly became more personal and intimate. By the way, I don’t think inspiration is a matter of sources. I feel it is more like an attitude of mind and soul. I happen to collect and feel a certain empathy and stimulation from random things which get a creative relevance in that specific frame of time triggering my curiosity.
MJ: Is there a certain era in art and design that inspires you the most?
VL: I’m recently obsessed with surrealist women such as Eleonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, Meret Oppenheim. I find them so contemporary!
MJ: Your path to fashion wasn’t immediate: you first studied literature before getting into fashion while in London, what made you go in that direction? What role did living in London play in that?
VL: I always knew I wanted to be a designer. I just arrived at my goal enriching my path with different inputs! London was a moment of enlightening. Such a melting pot of cultures and subcultures. Everything around me was pure energy and I embraced it as much as I could! The city left a mark on both my way of living and my way of working, coming back into my life for the second time during the period I spent at Celine.