Clothing helps define and build a character, a role. In the same way as music, design, and architecture, fashion and the body are intrinsically linked. However, fashion goes further, not only expanding and intertwining itself with the body, but becoming the body itself, both in a tangible and symbolic sense, influencing the individual and society. It stands at the ground zero of the identity-building process, serving as the first and immediate medium between the human being and the surrounding environment.
Opal is a creative studio and multifunctional space whose activities develop around three foundational macro themes: Electronic Music, Event Production and Visual Communication. Co-founded in 2020 in Milan by Vittorio Valigi, Francesco Velardi and later joined by Fabio Zof, the Subwoofer Devotion is their first capsule collection. Responding on behalf of all members is Vittorio, Co-Founder devoted to the creative direction regarding both the collection and the visual part of Opal.
Alessia Perina Aguilera: By delimitating an identity, the garment becomes the first architecture and the first way in which the person decides to represent themselves. In this way, it becomes the first barrier between the self and the outside world. How do you feel about this? Does it represent Opal’s philosophy?
Vittorio Valigi: Absolutely. The garment is a contemporary armor that declares essence, appearance but often also belonging. The person is not only the archetype of appearing but also of being: we voluntarily and involuntarily express who we are based on our image. Clothing as a result is a manifestation of the person himself. However, the garment, while remaining a barrier, can also be a form of rebellion or a statement against conventional social norms. One example well-known to all may be the punk movement of the 1970s, which relied on style codes that conveyed rebellion against the establishment and an open declaration of nonconformity. In this case, the dress served as a symbol of counter-culture. In our case, on the other hand, the dress is used to communicate belonging to a specific ideology and sub-culture rooted inside and outside the city. Opal has over the years been a symbol of a well-defined subculture, and our clothing is simply its material, textile, and graphic translation.
AP: Opal is a multifunctional space in which you focus on electronic music and event production. The capsule collection’s main theme is the “machine”, the Sound System as an object of devotion. As the architecture of the body, fashion becomes the body itself, influencing the movements of the wearer. Did you take into account the situations in which the capsule collection will be worn (such as dancing) when developing the collection? What was your approach to designing it?
VV: The design process lasted a little less than a year and was characterized by close attention to detail, particularly in the choice of graphic designs and materials. We avoided producing stock bought and printed in a rush garments. The clothes, produced in Italy out of organic cotton, were conceived and designed to be simultaneously comfortable and visually elegant. We collaborated with Michele Zuddas during the fabric selection, he followed us by providing in-depth knowledge on handling textile materials and the different stages of production. The garments are not designed purposefully for dancing, they incorporate an idea of devotion to a machine that can (and should) exist outside of the classic dancefloor/party situation. At the same time, seeing a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or jacket from the collection worn by a stranger on any given occasion can only bring us great pleasure.
AP: Fashion allows, in a given temporal and geographical context, following specific behavioral and aesthetic patterns, to make us feel part of a group or collectivity. The Subwoofer Devotion capsule collection allows the wearer to affirm and define themselves through the garments but more importantly to recognize themselves as part of a community. Are the garments designed for the Opal community or did you also conceive them for those who are first time interfacing your project? Who is the wearer?
VV: Opal’s logo, only 13 cm long and printed on the heart side of the garments, is imbued and full of different emotions and meanings. For us, it means dreams and nightmares, obligations and choices, affections and grudges. And yet day and night, past and future. Everything we have done and will do is for those who still believe in our project today, for those who have been following us since 2020, and for those who will get to know us in the future. We do not have such a degree of objectivity to be able to understand whether or not this sentiment-laden message comes through what we offer, but we do our best to make it happen on as many occasions as we can; through an event, a record or an item of clothing.
AP: Since the garments of the collection are characterized by essential shapes, the graphic component plays an extremely important role. How did you approach the design and development of the visual elements? How do these communicate with the visual imagery you crafted for the capsule’s communication, for example, the video in collaboration with No Text Azienda?
VV: The concept of “Entity” emerges as the main thread linking the graphic universe and the video in collaboration with No Text Azienda. The overall atmosphere enveloping the project has a 2000s feel to it, with a fusion of dark (The Demon-Subwoofer) and post-ironic (I<3IDM) graphic elements interacting in a harmonious and coherent way, respecting Opal’s overall vision and values. I have always been very fascinated by symbolism and the human capacity to venerate devotional figures, to attach deep meaning to images or material structures that are essentially artifacts. This concept raises a number of questions about human perception, and the attribution of deep meaning to objects or images that could lead to a curious analysis of semiotics and human culture. The Sound System, in this case, becomes a sacred presence to be respected. In the video made with No Text, I describe autobiographically, visually, and textually my first encounter with this entity, and how much my life has changed since that moment.