Emilio Cavallini’s Abstract Geometries in Milan

Emilio Cavallini’s Abstract Geometries in Milan

We met Emilio Cavallini in a gloomy Florence, we recognize him among the cars that flock to the Santa Maria Novella gateway thanks to its unmistakable blue hat. The journey goes ahead to San Miniato, the city in which the Stilnovo S.r.l. is based, a company founded in 1970 and where, under the brand Emilio Cavallini, the socks have turned into real clothes for the legs.

Since Milan has been paying attention to him with two exhibitions – the first one, entitled Geometric Abstraction, at the no profit exhibition space Interface HUB/ART, will run until 31 March, the second one at the 5-star hotel ME Milan Il Duca – the thought goes back to the dawn of his creative history.

In the late 60s, London is the city of the youth revolution, the Rolling Stones and the “miniskirt” launched by Mary Quant, freeing the female legs from that moment. Emilio Cavallini was there, working hand-in-hand with the English designer. Why did you decide to come back and establish your company here, in Italy, San Miniato?
The decision to produce in Italy the socks for Mary Quant, came from the fact that here, in San Miniato, there were many small craft industries, born after the closure of a large stocking factory. At the time, I was a student of Economics at the University of Florence and a local company decided to produce the pantyhose stockings that I wanted if I put order to the accounting and administration. It was the great success of the tights that allowed me to create my own company Stilnovo.

San Miniato is a village that stands halfway between Florence and Pisa and that for centuries has been disputed between the two cities. We know that your artistic production moves from the study of mathematics and its maximum expression, the architecture. We all know Florence as the city of Dante, Giotto, Brunelleschi, that more than all has embodied the hope of a “rebirth”, a return to the greatness of the ancients. How the proximity to Florence affected your work?
Florence has passed on me the passion for art from the intermediate school time. Every spare moment I studied the great outdoor works, then the museum ones. Growing up, I started to explore all the Italian territory, the Tuscan churches, Rome and then the classical Greek art. Moreover, the inclination towards mathematics made me understand how art had always been very close to scientific studies. The large floors of the churches, the Byzantine and Roman mosaics. Without Florence I do not know what would have happened.

Once we arrived at the Stilnovo headquarters, we feel that the Cavallini’s heart beats within these walls. The company and the archive, two worlds that from the beginning coexist in a perpetual and continuous exchange. In fact, the commercial offices hide on the first floor an immense archive of works created over more than 40 years. We walk along a maze of fabrics, canvases, fibers of pantyhose, mannequins, which seem to come alive at the touch of their Demiurge. Each piece has a story, a memory, an inspiration. In everyone, the desire to project the stocking, object of his work, into a “unique” beyond, freeing it from mass production. A weaver artist and a visionary entrepreneur. An indissoluble partnership. Which one do you think identify you the most?
The socks allow me to travel, to know contemporary art, Pop art and to move to New York in 1990. I used to be openminded and stimulated myself to create socks with patterns inspired by art. The costumers perceived it and success came by itself. My socks put on cartoons became artworks mostly unwillingly. I do not think that I can identify myself as a stylist, even though in the eighties I created real collections from shoes to coats, my collections were shown in Florence, Milan and Paris. In me there has always been the desire to go beyond fashion and get closer to art.

Now he’s smiling. From 2010 – the year in which he inaugurated Trasfigurazioni, an exhibition at the Triennale di Milano- he devoted himself completely to his art. Before leaving us, he shows us a machine, caressing it like you do with a love one: “Now the production is spread abroad but here, once, hundreds of people worked every day. Without this machine I would never have met the sock.”


Interface HUB/ART

Emilio CavalliniEmilio Cavallini, Geometric Abstraction. Installation view at Interface HUB/ART ph. Francesco Soffiantini

Emilio CavalliniEmilio Cavallini, Geometric Abstraction. Installation view at Interface HUB/ART ph. Francesco Soffiantini

Emilio CavalliniEmilio Cavallini, Geometric Abstraction. Installation view at Interface HUB/ART ph. Francesco Soffiantini

Emilio CavalliniEmilio Cavallini, Parabola Tubolare Biforcazione Strutturale, 2000, nylon e resina, 180×180 cm, ph. Oktay Aldag


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