Massimo Alba’s Milanese map evokes the character of the streets of the Navigli district, where we find his showroom, the severe elegance of Via Brera faced by the shop-windows of his boutique and the uniqueness of Santa Maria delle Grazie whose facade overlooks his home.
The designer’s sentimental geography offers, however, wider borders: from Veneto to India to New York City, which was chosen in 2006 for the debut of the brand that bears his name today. It’s a circular geography, one that nods to a variety of places, people, jobs, encounters and goodbyes, whose points are connected by an incredibly personal gaze that seeks beauty and intensity.
Within the current fashion landscape, Alba is an eccentric figure, yet not in the literal sense of the word. Instead, that side of him is rooted in a humanistic vision which inspires his work and which reverberates and effects the spaces he lives and works in. Designing and producing clothes are, for him. episodes of an extended story of intertwined feelings and existential curiosity.
Alba is known internationally for having been creative director of Malo and Agnona, and for being the mind behind successful probjects such as the one linked to the Ballantyne brand.
In 2006, the designer launched his own line with his name, establishing it’s understated and subdued nature by having the logo written small, in lowercase, initials included.
“The collection was born as a gift to my wife, assembling together items that I considered indispensable in a women's wardrobe: a coat, a peacoat and four sweaters.”
Perhaps reducing it all to such few pieces was a bit of an exageration. It certainly did, however, allow for his 350-square-meters Showroom to appear quite oversize for a presentation that aimed to present the essential, and that instantly touched the hearts of many prestigious international retailers.
The large rooms, open to one another, have since been the headquarters of the brand and host its two annual collections, for men and women: clothes "designed with our friends in mind", made to feel comfortable when wearing them, enriched with tailored details, authoritative colors and a decontracté aesthetic which is the result of a process that removes all stiffness and severeness even from the most iconic garments, whether jackets or coats.
All of it was conceived with the idea of sharing the project with his wife, Marilena, a great ally who represents "a female side to which I pay attention to".
Authenticity is a word that recurs frequently in Alba's vocabulary, intended as a lense to observe and study the future through.
Now that Alba’s brand is reaching a considerable size (in 2014 the opening of a new store in Rome in Via dei Coronari, followed by more openings in Sestri Levante and Courmayeur in 2018) and the challenges can result more complex, mantaining an authentic stance becomes both risky and, at the same time, stimulating. But his clothes speak for themselves and so do the spaces in which he lives in.
Being yourself, blurring the gap between masculine and feminine, seeking pleasure and consolation in what we love. Without the fear of being sentimental.
Words by Chiara Dal Canto**
About our Woman
“I often wonder: what’s the most respectful way to approach women, to design a womenswear collection? The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that a dress - or a coat, a jacket, a shirt – doesn’t have to overwhelm them, instead, they must walk them through their day. Dressing a woman – putting her in an outfit - can come across as an act of imposition by a designer: I prefer for my clothes to become part of people’s lives, to go places with them, becoming one with their wardrobe and their lives ”
About our Man
“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.” “I underlined this sentence a long time ago, as I was reading “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace, and it has stayed with me ever since.What does it mean to be different from others? Does it mean that we may be more like ourselves than someone else? And what about our clothes? Can they really make us different? ”