Lawrence Steele reveals first ideas in his return to Aspesi
Almost two decades after he first began creating for Aspesi, Lawrence Steele has returned to helm the house, and unveiled his first new ideas for the Italian label with a family-and-friends photoshoot by Vanina Sorrenti.
His goal: to introduce Aspesi to a far larger audience.
“I hope people will discover Aspesi. It’s sort of an Italian secret. It’s very well known here in Italy and has impact internationally, but I’d like more. The everyday quality of Aspesi is special and it’s made in amazing textiles with an Italian sense of style,” Steele explained in a Zoom preview from Milan.
A notably fashionable figure in Milan, even by the city’s exacting standards, Steele first joined Aspesi back in 2004, after working for both Prada and Moschino for a decade.
His plan now is a collection that is “discreet but distinct. I hope the subtlety will resonate with people.”
Steele left Aspesi in 2017 to aid his long-term partner Francesco Risso after he became creative director of Marni. He bought his first look by Aspesi back as a young graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, when the brand was being helmed by Franco Moschino.
He would later work directly with Alberto Aspesi, who founded the brand in 1969 in Gallarate in northern Lombardy.
After the brand was acquired by private equity firm Armonia Italy Fund, the new owners invited Steele back to helm the marque late last year.
“I came back five months ago, and with a different title. I’m now Creative Director and I am here to direct the company. When they asked me to consider coming back I couldn’t say no. I was brought back into a brand whose DNA I helped create,” said Steele, who began wholesaling the latest collection this week in Milan, in their headquarters in the central San Babila district.
“We’re lucky to be able to prepare our lookbook with a beautiful cast of friends of Vanina’s and the kids who are friends of mine. We shot in Milan and flew in people here. We had a lot of friends in common, and I’m delighted with the results,” enthused Steele.
First ideas included a charmingly elongated trench in a faintly rumpled crème caramel microfiber; or a classic red and black rugby top paired with some neatly elephantine pants. Steele doesn’t want anything too directional; more very concrete and with authenticity. His wish is to bring forward Aspesi’s DNA.
“Aspesi is not really a fashion brand but a lifestyle brand that makes incredible product,” he stresses.
Hoping that the brand can embrace the new opportunities of new media and e-commerce distribution channels so Aspesi can reach a wider public.
This spring he’s spent plenty of time at the brand’s factory half way between Malpensa airport and the nearby lakes.
“I spent a lot of time making the clothes there. I don’t just give lots of directions like quite a lot of designers. I am very hands on about prices, and with fabrics - since they are a dream,” he concludes.
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