The adage that it is an artist’s responsibility to reflect the times is one designer Veronica Leoni subscribes to. So, when she sat down to create the 2 Moncler 1952 women’s collection recently, she was inspired by feelings of personal conflict relating to the pandemic chaos over the past two years. “It’s quite a sentimental collection for me,” Leoni says. “Considering the restrictions, which obliged us to rethink the way we all used to research and look for inspiration, I went extremely personal. I feel an intimate connection with it and the way it has been created.”
The collection, released today, is part of Moncler’s Genius portfolio, which invites noted designers to take the helm and present their vision for the outerwear label.In it, Leoni celebrates the power of dualism by being at once unabashedly feminine and pragmatic, extravagant and clean, bold and spontaneous. This philosophy is exhibited throughout as classic Moncler silhouettes are combined with an amalgamation of textures and playful contrasts.
Leoni, who has been responsible for womenswear at the Italian brand since 2018, previously honed her craft at noted fashion house Jil Sander and then under the tutelage of Phoebe Philo at Céline, and throughout her career she has used her work as a platform to advance the social causes close to her heart. “Gender equality is a battle we should all feel involved in. It is not about fashion, it’s cultural!” she says. “Society worldwide is still quite far from equality and fair access to opportunities. We cannot just watch and wait. As a woman in my 30s, I feel the responsibility to promote the change whenever possible.”
Notably, the new 2 Moncler 1952 Collection contains several pieces created from recyclable materials in a continuation of both the brand’s and Leoni’s longstanding commitment to sustainability. “I’m quite convinced that we all as part of the fashion industry have the opportunity and the responsibility to speak loudly and take a position in matters that count. We can’t just produce pieces of clothes. We have the chance to amplify and share common values using our platforms. An extended sustainable ethic will definitely be the way forward,” she explains.
Here, the Italian designer speaks exclusively to T Australia about how the past year has inspired the collection, what fashion means to her and how the industry can promote change in society.
What is your definition of fashion?
“Fashion has multiple definitions: it reflects the time we’re in. it offers, at the same time, an escape from the reality we are in. It’s an instrument of identification. It makes communities, but it’s also able to make a difference and create uniqueness. In my case, it’s a form of expression where I converge all my fantasies and creativity, giving tangible shapes to visions and private dreams.”
What was your starting point for inspiration for this collection?
“In July last year, when I started working on the collection, limitations were still many more than opportunities. This enduring situation obliged me to apply a new method to the research and the inspiration. Somehow it all became very intimate and personal. At the time, I found myself deeply stretched in between two very opposite feelings: the need of reassurance against a wild instinct towards the outside. I wanted to feel grounded and, at the same time, escape! This time a dualistic soul was the beginning of the creative process and it’s mirrored in the design itself. A sort of extravaganza expressed at different levels was the very personal divertissement I wanted to enjoy throughout.”
The emphasis in this collection seems to be on liveable and comfortable wear. Is that a response to the past year?
“I have to confess; my instinct is pretty opposite! I want to go outside and dress up not necessarily in a comfortable way. I like to translate this idea with functionality and a certain pragmatism, which I always distil into my pieces. I feel it’s a quality that helps design to be real, grounded and pure.”
You’ve been quoted as saying, “we all have to do our part in driving change”, tell us about the pieces that are made with lower environmental impact?
“Sustainability and a low-impact approach for Moncler is a real mission and so it is for me in a very extended way. We are endlessly working with suppliers and the whole chain to make this a tangible reality, embracing it creatively and making it an opportunity for a more timeless and responsible way of doing fashion. The most iconic Moncler fabrics have been replaced with their recycled alternatives. And many of the most fashionable pieces of the collection, such as the ruffled skirt, the feathered hat and the minimal black puffer I mentioned before, are made in a Japanese mat extra-light recycled ripstop I’m very proud about. It is dyed with the Onibegie procedure, which uses eco-friendly and natural pigments. It became immediately very iconic for 2 Moncler 1952 and it is now in its second season.”
What is one piece in this collection that you are especially proud of?
“I love the polka-dot puffy pajamas. I feel they embody perfectly the dualistic soul we mentioned as the starting point of creativity, with that spirited touch of extravaganza. But I also adore them for their dualistic soul. The black shiny puffer with elasticated waist: so a new look but, at the same time, totally Moncler.”
You tend to mix textures and materials in your designs. Does this collection reflect that?
“I’ve always been very tactile; the research of materials is a fundamental stage of my creative process. Textures and the perfect mix of them are extremely inspiring to me. Silhouettes become a white canvas to animate, and in Moncler I love the contamination and contrast that come out when mixing references and stereotypes.”
What draws you to using Kermit and Fozzie in two pieces in this collection? Were they childhood favourites?
“In this worldwide mood we are all in, I was after some fun. I was looking for something so iconic and globally unifying. And the Muppets represent for so many of us very positive memories. I couldn’t resist! Those polka-dot puffy pajamas on Fozzie will be a memorable achievement of my career.”
Speaking of your childhood, were you always interested in fashion?
“I’m going to sound banal, but yes, I always wanted to be a designer and I never imagined myself doing anything else. Lucky girl.”
What was your reaction when you were first asked to design a collection for Moncler?
“Surprised! It was not obvious and possibly a bit visionary.”
What draws you to Moncler?
“Moncler represents the avant-garde in terms of business and strategy. At the time when it started, the Moncler Genius Project was something very unique and it set an example for the whole industry. Today there’s no brand without its own little version of the ‘Genius’. I like to think I’m part of the original one!”