Written by Monica Camozzi and Giulia Brunello
I am not a fluid or genderless campaigner. I love the woman, I value her feminine, provocative, hunting essence. When she chooses a dress, in the end, she has to feel beautiful.
Mario Dice embodies the power of the dream, the styling ability that makes you guess what will or will not go on the market, and that marketing flair he learned when, as a young boy, he flew to New York to work at Calvin Klein, with no knowledge of any fashion school.
Above all, detached from American market laws that incorporated creativity into a taxonomy of profit. However, young Mario, the son of a mechanic, who could not afford the very expensive Saint Martin School but had the chromosome of stylistic genius and the intelligence to understand how to shape it, would find his parallel path. The universe made him explore everything from American pragmatism to the alchemy of Roman couture, to his mentor and, finally, to himself.
How did you end up at 14 at Calvin Klein?
I sent some sketches to three Italian fashion houses, Krizia, Versace and Trussardi, to get feedback. Could I really do this job or was it an illusion? My mother used to cut and sew but I hadn’t attended any school. I just didn’t specify my age. Nicola Trussardi called me and then, surprised, since he couldn’t put me in the company, he contacted Calvin Klein’s product department.
You Italian people dream, we make money, so I was told. They loved my hand and my creative thinking but I had to adapt it to the logic of saleability.
Did it help you on your next path?
Absolutely, every time I designed I was sent to the tailor’s shop and took the time to work out with the pattern designers how long it would take to make the garment. There I understood the saleable-non-saleable dynamic.
And then you ended up in the dream world of Sorelle Fontana….
Not only that, Gattinoni too! There, we were at the exact opposite. There was no marketing, no numbers, absolute freedom. At Gattinoni I followed both the couture with Guillelmo Mariotto and the second lines. He would come to work at 4am, pure creativity with no constraints.
How did you mediate between alpha and omega?
At Trussardi, when I met the creative director Milan Vukmirovic, to whom I owe what I am. He had taste, he was a great stylist, director of Officiel, creator of the Colette concept store.
Vukmirovic taught me to use my skills not only in design, but to conceive the product. The stylist’s perspective allowed him to anticipate trends.
So you can face the market while preserving the poetry…
What I show on the catwalk is also designed for editorials, I hardly ever make a product that doesn’t go into production. Otherwise it is not presented to the press. We produce up to size 52. Our core business is the Middle East, Russia, America.
On the 12th of June, a leather collection by Oshi, a new brand, came out. I like to create new projects-products not yet exploited by the system.
You dedicated a collection to Gabriella Ferri. A character that no one ever mentions. Why her?
In my 31-year long career I have had the opportunity to work with great people from theatre, film, not just fashion. There are artists that I love in their torment, they bring love out of pain and she was like that. She loved to put her waistline in the foreground, she hid her fragility. Everyone remembers her for what she became later, but I remember her in a size 40 with a bob long before Raffaella Carrà.
Do you still design for the theatre?
I am producing Medea in Sofia and Tosca in Salerno. The direction is by Marco Gandini, Zeffirelli’s assistant.
Which woman would you dream of dressing?
In Italy I don’t find any. Here stylists often impose themselves on celebrities to carry on brands, but you can see that sometimes the clothes do not fit, they are not suitable. Italian singers do not listen, American singers use costumes, not dresses. They have to be culturally ready, they don’t choose. He who pays, dresses them. I dressed Zendaya before she was top, but now she’s everywhere.
Kate Middleton has the personality I am looking for, she dressed McQueen, but made it her own.