Nange Magro – Fusing Fashion And Tech [Interview]

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Nange Magro is an Italian, London-based artist. Her heritage consists of an Italian painter mother and a Japanese sculptor father. Thanks to her mother’s passion of art, she has always been in contact with a creative environment.

Her love for software, technology, electronics, music, and art always drove her to experiment in new fields, and mixing new creative disciplines to better discover interesting hybrids. The passion for surrealism and obscure, alternative worlds has been a recognizable and constant variable in all her work.

As consolidation of her artistic skills, Nange started her education at Lucio Fontana Arts high school in Arese, Milan. It is in these years that she began developing her style and passions for sculpture, drawings and technology. During this period she started to receive her first awards as an artist and graphic designer in Milan. At the same time, passion for music and electric guitar have become one of her major creative outlets; she plays and participated in a number of bands and music projects.

After getting her Diploma of Artistic Maturity, she attended the Fashion Design course at Milan Bovisa Politecnico, where she could explore and strengthen her knowledge of fashion and software. Thanks to the Bachelor of Arts, she could attend and successfully complete the MA Digital Fashion course at the London College of Fashion in 2011.

The driving concept behind her art and fashion is the creation of a parallel universe made of stories, dreams, and emotions mixed with cultural context and technical processes. Combining interesting and artistic research around technology, materials, and shapes to create a tangible world that mixes imagination and fantasies, through a clearly implemented methodology, Nange has always been interested in creating products that originate from a mixture of different artistic areas.

In particular, the idea of technological sculptures (garments) that move and are in synthesis with the person who is wearing them represents both her ideal future and passion. A garment should represent an extension of the body and brain, and not merely be a mask that aims to divide or mediate the connection between a person and the surrounding world. Clothing should be something more than skin. It should be something that we can choose to describe ourselves in our own personal way; controlling it, means a lot more than we usually think. Being conscious of our body and its surrounding environment is one of the most important issues today.

Emotions and sensuality are fundamental elements for Nange as much as merging the past with sci-fi, exploring and pushing the limit between unreality and contemporary.

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How did you come up with the name “Dead Lotus Couture”?
It took me a long time to decide a proper name for my brand, I really wanted something that would accurately represent the soul of what I make and that feels part of my identity as well. After a long thinking process and a lots of ideas, the name Dead Lotus came up in my head (while showering actually!). Dead Lotus is a symbolism of two opposites, such as life and death, a constant swinging between extreme sexuality and elegance where the balance of the two creates something intriguingly beautiful. I’ve always been in love with lotuses, they are such an amazing and powerful symbol of strength and beauty. To better represent this concept I also decided to have a little symbol in the logo: an alive but underwater, still growing lotus.

When did you decide you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I always had a love for fashion and after art high school decided to give it a try. My idea was to merge all my passions into one discipline and when I chose fashion design for my studies, I thought that was the one where I could express myself the most. It’s such a wide ground, where I can merge art, with sculpture, with technology… there is no limit to its creativity. It’s also a field where you can fully share experiences and emotions with a lot of people, which is an amazing and precious thing.

I see you have a wide variety of interests including software, technology, and art to name a few. You describe all of these as playing a role in your fashion designs, can you tell me a bit about that?
I do have a lot of interests and I love them all, that’s why I never really dropped any of them completely, instead I always try to integrate what I like to do in any project I am working on. For example, I love art retouching and conceptualizing photoshoots, as you can see from my collaborations with my business and life partner, so I end up working and spending a lot of hours on pictures and digital art as well as designs. Also, technology and electronics are part of my passions, as you can see in projects such as Mech-Apocalypse… more things are coming soon too!

“Futuristic electronic fashion” can you describe this a bit more to me from your point of view?
The next steps in human evolution are likely to be about modifying and controlling what is around us, through always new and innovative interfaces. Increasingly, the symbiosis between the human being and technology is now passing from fantasy in science fiction to actual scientific fact. It is with no little justification that we can affirm with confidence that the elemental physical “body” is not the inviolable sphere that it once was before. I can see a future where boundaries between what we are and what we wear becomes thinner and thinner. My idea of futuristic fashion is something that merges past and future together, with a capacity to express our identities like never before. Fashion is our skin, our mask, our thoughts, and our way to communicate. The future will strengthen the bridge between our inner and outer worlds.

How often do you put out new designs?
I have an average of 2/3 per month, more or less considering accessories and other projects too.

Tell me about what you offer as far as products, custom work, etc.
With Dead Lotus couture I offer a range of high-quality clothing, accessories, and services, every item is carefully designed and only after three to four prototypes I allow myself to sell it. Being picky about the design, its fitting, and quality, is the first rule to achieve results that always aim to be the best. All the effort and pain is always worth it. I also adore doing custom work, from the simplest job to the craziest one. Making people happy with what I do is really the best gift ever, especially when you are responsible for an important night/event of their life. I will soon add more male designs too, as well as more simple items to have a more complete range to offer.

How would you describe your aesthetic? Has it evolved over time?
Mmm, I guess you can always see what I like in everything I make in both designs and art. I would use three words to simply describe my aesthetic: surreal, elegant, storytelling. It surely evolved over time as I did as a person, but you can always see certain elements never changed, like it happens in life. Experiences make you grow, but inside there’s always a bit of you that remains the same.

What tips would you give to a budding fashion designer?
To never give up and always dream. If you aim low, you will never reach the top.

Where would you like to see your designs in five years?
I certainly would love to see some of my designs more involved in movies and music.

Fashion is a very competitive industry, have you ever had moments when you wanted to quit?
I did have moments of doubt , especially during my master at the London College of Fashion where I had to really fight to keep doing my project (the mind-controlled dress) as my mentor at that time wanted to drop me from the course because “I wasn’t doing real fashion,” as a big part of the project was involving electronic. But fortunately I have an amazing family and good friends, especially my mum who supported me and always taught me to never give up and be as stubborn as she is! So I didn’t give up, but instead I became stronger and at the end of my project I had an amazing worldwide critical response to what I had achieved in that year and a half, despite such a horrible working condition. Sadly fashion and fashion people are often very competitive and close-minded, but sometimes you can meet amazingly humble and creative people too, and these are the only people I like to work with and have around in my life. Sometimes it’s just a question of not compromising.

I see you model a lot of your own designs as well, how long have you been modeling?
I started modelling for the Milan Politecnico photography studio when I was studying there, so I guess I have been modelling for about seven years more or less. Yes I do, I usually model my designs so if I quickly need to shoot a dress or I have a precise idea on how the outcome should be, I just model myself as it’s quicker and easier. I still also do some paid shoots sometimes but quite rarely now, as I don’t enjoy it much anymore, I find it quite tiring.

What got you into modeling?
At first it was just curiosity and passion for photography.

What drew you into the more alternative scene, and what inspires you today?
I have always been attracted by alternative music and art since I can remember. All creative that always influenced (and still influence) me and my art were quite twisted and dark, such as H.R.Giger and Dalí.

Who and what are some of your biggest inspirations?
Nature is always my biggest inspiration. The best way to concept a design is to observe the beauty of natural shapes. From plants to landscapes to every creature, there is a rich world full of conceptual inspirations. Another important source of inspiration is also history and society, a good idea without any contextual understanding becomes useless.

What is the biggest struggle you have found pursuing your art?
People can be the best gift and or the worst curse. Being humble, nice, and not competitive are qualities that don’t always pay off, but in the long run certain situations help you to be more determined and strong.

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