MILANO TAILOR MADE By Caterina Crepax

It is a valuable experience for me to celebrate the important anniversary of the European Institute of Design — the school with which, although sporadically, I have long shared passions and projects — by working with a new and fascinating partner, Icma, a historic company based in Mandello del Lario, which makes magnificent papers that are perfect for building my dreams.

Having had the opportunity to visit Icma and examine the colours, surfaces and embossing of hundreds of sheets of sartorial paper, often inspired by the materials of the city — metals, steel, copper, asphalt, rubber, wood, and stone — the idea for this project was to reproduce my city, my Milan, which in recent years, without losing its identity and so quickly as to leave us a bit breathless, has found itself flaunting a new towering profile — a skyline that can now be recognized throughout the world.

So, we are going to build a sort of diorama, where the old anonymous profiles of the historic houses will alternate on various planes, like in a theatre scene, with the buildings that have always allowed us to recognize Milan — from the Madonnina of its cathedral, the Velasca Tower, or the Pirelli Tower to the few tall buildings and the towers of the Sforzesco Castle — and finally, with the new skyscrapers featuring daring forms.

The students who take part in the workshop will contend with creating the silhouettes of Milanese buildings — some anonymous and some very recognisable. The paper will all be Icma Sartorial Paper.

The challenge will be to work together to choose the right combination of papers to bring interesting architectural details to life. The weaving and overlapping of different but harmonious papers will achieve effects of light, shadow, movement, and three-dimensionality. Our tools will be scissors, cutters, rulers, set squares, glue, and photographs from which to draw inspiration.

Two sculpture garments I’ve made for the workshop will be decorated using the same techniques: cutouts, overlays, inserts, and punctures to create fine details and original patterns. The man will represent the great Milan of the architects and personify the Velasca Tower, while the woman with her sinuous curves will be the “new” — the Hadid Tower.

The scene will be enriched by a sort of metropolitan jungle, made up of somewhat extraterrestrial flowers and leaves of unusual colours, which, in a certain sense, will frame the diorama of our “tailor-made” Milan.

The choice is a heartfelt gift to my city, which I have not always loved, but which I would not swap for any other — a place I like to leave but always want to return to. I have always carefully observed the architectural and decorative details of the buildings because they give me original ideas for my paper garments. The garments are like buildings in which people live. The new skyscrapers spark my curiosity and enrich my scope of ideas. Our eyes continue to fly higher.

This collaboration is thus a tribute to the city by an artist and architect in the “home” of architects, the Triennale, surrounded by its green park, which my particular love of science fiction leads me to believe that one day could be purple or blue or navy... With imagination, some sheets of paper, and a pair of scissors, anything is possible. What I create are my dreams, clothed in paper.

Caterina Crepax

Inheriting her artistic gene from her father Guido Crepax, the renowned creator of Valentina and drawn stories that could hardly be called comic strips, Caterina Crepax has completely made it her own by carrying out research and creative experimentation with the most diverse materials.

Her tools have always been scissors and her hands, which perform constructive gestures, such as cutting, assembling, folding, crinkling, rolling, and weaving. Her inspiration is guided by fine details gathered from nature, flora and fauna, architecture, and design. This inspiration also comes from sculpture and painting, from the ancient world, and from space. She attentively observes everything in order to grasp the opening lines that will be re-elaborated by her imagination, playfully transformed, and restored to reality with an unexpected identity.

She works as an artist, creating sculptures, wearable items for catwalks and theatre performances, and spectacular setups for exhibitions and events. She also runs special projects in fashion and design schools. She collaborates with set designers, photographers, and visual artists. Trained as an interior architect, she has chosen paper as the material with which she “sculpts” lavish garments with surprising details. These sophisticated objects of desire stand out like sculptures in a space, leading the eye to scour their surfaces and admire their volume.

Together with her family, Caterina Crepax oversees the Crepax Archive, constantly holding new initiatives around the world.

To contact her: www.catcrepaxpaperart.com