For the designer duo Marco Capaldo and Kikka Cavenati, fashion is all about co-existence of extremes. Their brand 16Arlington is all about the woman who is the life and soul of every party. She is unabashed, unapologetic, and never shies away from calling a spade a spade. The designs define the “wow” factor like never before. Every ensemble is crafted with pure love by Marco and Kikka. The pair’s Italian heritage offers an added layer of substance to the London grunge aesthetic of the collections. In its fourth season, the brand has become an instant hit with Hollwyood A-listers. We speak to the young and dynamic duo to learn more about their creative philosophy. Edited excerpts...
Tell us about your entry into the fashion industry? How well did you know each other before the inception of the brand?
We both met at university while studying for our degree in womenswear. After working for various brands separately, and also working on some design projects together, we decided that there was great design chemistry and a balance which really complimented each other. That was the start of 16Arlington.
Do you think your Italian heritage has impacted your design language?
We definitely play with our Italian/British heritage and heavily reference it when it comes to designing. Italy is known for luxury, incredible attention to detail, great design and craftsmanship. Italy effortlessly oozes a sense of decadence and glamour, and we definitely try to inject that heritage into the brand. London is packed with creativity, freedom, diversity, and a real sense of love for life. London for us is a real creative hub where there really are no limitations to what you can do.
Having your own individual styles and school of thoughts, how do you tackle conflict of interests and take unanimous decisions?
The beauty of 16Arlington really is the balance of extremes—“masculine versus feminine” and “minimal versus maximal.” Italian glam combined with London cool, and for us there really is no conflict of interest. When it comes to bringing different design aesthetics to the table, I (Kikka) most definitely favour something quite clean and minimal, whereas Marco has a love for embellishment; however our personal styles are quite the opposite. Kikka loves all things fabulous, and I (Marco) prefer a much sharper minimalistic approach. This contrast acts as a real balance within the design process, when creating a new collection.
The design ethos of 16Arlington balances the two extremes; high octane glamour meets London’s grunge aesthetics. Where and how do you seek creative inspiration from?
Our inspiration comes from everywhere; the smallest of things can spark an idea. We can definitely say that London has a huge part to play in our creative process. Being surrounded by such an amazing group of creatives, friends and family heavily influences our design.
Sequinned separates, feathers, accentuated thigh splits; your designs effortlessly reveal the party animal in everyone. Please take us through your creative moodboard.
16Arlington has most definitely carved out a space within our client’s party wardrobe. Whether it’s a fabulous sequin feather hemmed mini dress or super tailored sculptural suit, we have gained popularity amongst party goers. Our clothes love to travel to beautiful places and have a story to tell the next morning.
How would you describe the quintessential “16Arlington Woman”?
We never define our woman by an age group or an occupation; it really is about an attitude for us. The quintessential 16Arlington woman is all about empowerment and enjoyment in life. She stands for herself and wants to make a difference in the world.
How did you prepare for London Fashion Week 2019? Tell us about your experience at the same.
London Fashion Week is always an exciting moment for us. Working alongside the British Fashion Council and having a presence on schedule at London Fashion Week has always been a dream and a huge goal for the brand. Showcasing the collection there for a second season really has been amazing.
In its fourth season, the brand has already attracted attentions from all quarters. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Claire Foy, Lena Dunham among others have worn your designs. How has the experience been like? Do you have any favourite muse?
We have been so lucky to work with such an incredibly inspiring collective of women since starting. We love and adore each and every one of them, and love how they are all so different, but equally as inspiring and empowering as each other. This sits hand-in-hand with the quintessential 16Arlington woman.
Social media has changed the dynamics of the fashion industry. How do you think it has impacted your label?
Social media is very bittersweet. It has a lot of pros and a lot of cons, but learning how different people in different parts of the world are interacting with the brand, styling the brand and wearing the pieces is definitely amazing. For us, that’s a really exciting and positive side of social media.
Tell us about your latest collection. What are the trends you are betting big on?
For Spring/Summer 2020, we delved into our Italian roots. We looked at Rafaella Carra as a muse and inspiration for the season. We also took a nostalgic approach and looked back to more innocent times; for instance, the 60’s reference for shape, print and textile design, and general mood which we injected into our SS20 collection.
What can we expect from the house of 16Arlington next?
There are some exciting new projects in the pipeline. More feathers, more love, and more fun are always to be expected.