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In conversation with The Woolmark Company prize judge, Nino Cerruti

31 August 2014 by TexSelect in Fashion, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Nino Cerruti heads the Biella-based textile mill Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti. Founded by his grandfather in 1881, Nino Cerruti took over the business at the beginning of the 1950s, but is more widely recognised for the international success of his menswear fashion brands, Hitman and Cerruti 1881. He was the first designer to send men and women down the catwalk in the same clothes in 1968 and went on to create designs for a long list of celebrities and iconic Hollywood films including Wall Street and Basic Instinct. We talk wool, embarking in the textile industry and the role of judge with the master of cloth:

Your expertise as a fashion designer and creator of textiles will be absolutely invaluable to the Texprint designers when you meet them at Indigo in September 2014. Do you think that the work of textile designers is overlooked?

The work of people who work in textile design changes dramatically from the moment in which they join a company. When you work for a factory, you have to work to the ideas of the factory. And if you can bring a contribution then it might be a personal one. So there is a necessity that you lose some freedom. Personally I think that product development work should come from two professional perspectives; that of the designer and the merchandiser. There is a necessity of developing ideas, of looking around, but you are developing the ideas of a company, not purely your personal ideas.

Do you think it is important that we support new textile designers?

Every profession that believes in itself supports the next generation. Certainly the textile world has been under incredible stress recently and so faith in it has been weakened by doubt. Textiles has a faith, as it is so close to our bodies, to our daily lives, that it deserves more consideration than other consumer goods. It’s nobler than consumer goods, but it suffers the same diseases.

As a prize judge what are you hoping to see in the work of the 24 designers? What excites you in textile design, is it use of technology, use of colour, texture, drawing, skill or…?

I will try to judge in a balanced way, based on what I think can be useful for a person that joins a company and brings in the breath of youth. I think it is important to say that a piece of fabric is the result of several phases of the process. Like in medicine, you have various specialists – in spinning etc – in certain areas, but you still need the generalist that covers the entire process. It takes a long time to prepare people with this kind of knowledge, but it is important because otherwise you miss a point. You need generalists in textiles also.

What is it about wool that you love?

Wool is made by God. Nylon is made by humans. The artist is of a higher class.There is something more to wool. When we are born we are surrounded by wool. When you think of wool, you think of warmth, of family, of mother, in an intimate kind of way. It is probably inherited in our genes – at least in my generation. I believe wool is in danger – it is always associated with heritage, which is nice and tender, but it does not stimulate any enthusiasm. In today’s society there is a sin that is unforgivable, which is to be old. Wool needs to be reconsidered as something young and fresh. If you ask people if they think wool is cool they will look at you as if you are stupid. It needs to be promoted with seduction, which is very different. I am not sure if the iPad generation will still love wool in the same way?

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