We have always admired the incredible designs and art work behind many tattoos. We were delighted therefore to meet up with the two brains behind new Italian fashion brand TCD - Tattoo Culture Diffusion Giovanni Gastel and Manuela Baruzzi.
Giovanni and Manuela, what are your roles in the brand?
M: My role in TCD is a really concrete one, I am not directly involved in the creative process yet but I developed the web site, I am working on an e-commerce platform and I am trying to find distributors. I am really happy about my role in TCD because I can combine my organization skills and my creativity thanks to Giovanni who really trusts me and my capabilities. We take all the decisions together about everything and it makes us a good and passionate team.
G: The brand was created before meeting Manuela, but it's only since we joined forces that it has really taken off. I chose the fashion line and designs and embarked on the first production. Manuela takes care of all the operations side, the website, networking, sales etc. We work as a team, but she is the operations mind of TCD.
Can you tell us more about TCD and the latest collection?
G: The collection takes inspiration from the Maori tattoos and the Yap islands. They are probably the best known symbols in the tattoos world. We will definitely be exploring more symbolic cultures in the future. We already have other designs, mainly tribal for the moment. I also like 'old school' tattoos but it's become too commercial.
Giovanni, you are the nephew of the incredible Luchino Visconti and Giovanni Gastel the famed photographer whose name you share, so art is definitely in your DNA. How much did they impact your choices to move into the fashion world? Does having this background act in your favour or as an impediment in your view?
G: I worked wirh Giovanni in 1998, it was a formative experience on all levels, absolutely incredible! My mother was a fashion reporter and this too probably helped get me closer to fashion. It is much easier to 'assimilate' a language if you speak it often, this was the same for me with fashion and aesthetics.
However the constant comparison is hard to live with; at least it is until you find your own career path which belongs to you and you only.... I found mine through writing, my first book will be published in digital edition this May. "La Sindrome della Fenice". Art and creativity belong to my cultural heritage.
Manuela, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to become involved in this project?
M: I was born in Milan, the so-called capital of Italian fashion and I must admit that when I was young I was very interested in the world of fashion. All young girls usually want to be a ballerina, I wanted to be a designer. However I did not pursue a fashion career and after my graduation in International Politics I started working in human resources and now I’m work in a private equity company.
Thanks to Giovanni I am now on board the TCD project. He is basically a creative person and he needed some operatives to develop the brand; and I naturally became his partner.
How and when did Tattoos become your source of inspiration?
G: I got my first tatoo when I was 15 years old, and they have followed me ever since, I'm constantly coming up with projects for my body, its in constant evolution.
For me skin without tatoos is a wasted canvas. Every element which inspires me becomes a tatoo rather than vice-versa.
Your collection sources its tattoos from the Maori and Yap cultures, why did you choose these particular cultures? Are there others that you think you may apply to your work in the future?
G: I always admired the 'moko', the facial tattoos of the Maori tribes as well as their social history so I thought I would create a brand (TCD) starting from those designs. The tribal tattoos of the Yap islands I found very photographic.
Of course there are plenty of other cultures that inspire me, 'old school' revisited is very popular at the moment, I love tattoos from Borneo, and japanese tattoos too, as well as South American and East European gang tattoos.
What are your other sources of inspiration?
G: The world of art in general, antique and modern symbolism, as well as the religious one, alchemy and the world of literature.
When designing your collection what are the key ‘elements’ that you aim to have at the end of the exercise? What in your opinion makes the perfect collection?
G: The simplicity and immediacy of an image, combined with the cultural work behind every choice - that for me is the perfect summary.
That is how I view life: thought behind every deed.
How would you describe your jewellery collection?
G: It is simple, yet I also hope that in some way it is also elegant, refined: large crosses and lacquered rings inspired by medieval japanese characters:samurai, geishas, feudal lords. Also rings which remind us of hexagonal bolts.
I have other projects but they are still in the development phase!
How would you describe your clothes collection?
G: We did an immense amount of research to ensure the fabrics, cuts, labels and packaging were refined. The printing of the design was carried out by a historic florentine screen printing company. The cardinal elements of our brand are: quality and attention to detail.
What can we expect to see in your next collection?
G: Something we've definitely not seen to date, inspired by the evolution of society in the past years. I'm just as curious as you are!
Your products are 100% made in Italy, how important is this to you? What does Made in Italy guarantee?
G: Even if we are just a small brand it is important for me to maintain our production in Italy. Not only for a social economic reason, but also to serve as an example to others: I would rather earn less and keep my investments in my country.
Can style be bought, learned or is it something you are born with?
M: I think style and elegance cannot be bought, these are qualities you are definitely born with; I also think that you can learn how to dress in a better way to look nice.
G: I think living in an elegant environment moulds you aesthetic abilities. Few things come from birth, I believe most things are achieved rather than inherited.
How would you describe your typical client? Who buys TCD and why?
G: Anyone who loves tribal tattoos, even if they don't have one themselves.
Where can your collections be bought and how many points of sale do you have to date?
M: TCD s a very new brand and we are trying to develop it by finding a retail distribution. Now people can buy TCD from our online shop ( it will be ready in 2 months) and in a few weeks it will be possible to buy TCD lothes in Turin, in one of the coolest shop in town called “ Ai lov iu” thanks to Erica Brovelli, my friend and owner. We hope to grow and to increase business and to be able to distribute TCD also in Milan. We are also thinking about selling our products in Tattoo shops. We are working on it.. hoping one day to open a mono brand store!
G: I would love it if our points of sale were tattoo shops, it would make sense and it would bring clients closer to the real tattoos.
What are your long and short term objectives as designers and as a brand?
G: Short term: define a fashion collection, create a brand with a precise brand identity
Long term: produce new products and new designs, which we are currently working on.
Your favorite motto/proverb?
G: Usque ad finem: until the end!
If you could make one wish, what would it be?
G: Become a 'popular' brand, both in price point and in taste.
Labels: fashion, Giovanni Gastel, interview, interviews, italy, jewellery, Luchino Visconti, made in italy, Manuela Baruzzi, Maori tattoos, tattoo culture, Tattoo Culture Diffusion, TCD, t shirts, Yap islands