Riccardo Meazza: Turn the pain into power

by Cosimo Baldi

What would happen if we translated our emotions into something touchble?

What would happen if we gave shape to all our feelings, channeling them with flair and creativity? Italian designer Riccardo Meazza, class of 2022, answered this question with his graduation collection at IUAD in Milan, which earned him selection for the Fashion Graduate initiative held in the same city in November 2022.

What inspired you to pursue studies in the fashion field?

I’ve always had a personal tendency to want to be ‘different’ from the others. When I was little, I often tended to look beyond what I saw, and as I grew older, I started to pay more attention to my style, personality, and appearance, including my clothing. I realized I had characteristics that were atypical compared to my peers. At the end of high school, I was looking for a path that would allow me to be creative and free, so I decided to focus on an artistic field, combining the need to express myself rather than listening to the opinions of others. I decided to attend a fashion academy, which was also a bit of a gamble with myself.

What is the reason behind the choice of the theme of your graduation project?

My personal life had a very significant impact in this regard. I was coming out of a difficult period in my life, and the teachers who followed me throughout my academic journey encouraged me to bring out these feelings and express them constructively. This led to the idea of creating a concept based on the analysis of the meaning of the anger. The idea of combining this initial concept with Viking culture came later, leading me to research the customs, clothing, and diet typical of Viking people, incorporating this brainstorming into the search for materials for my collection.

The theme of the 2022’s edition of Fashion Graduate was the concept of “Bodysm”. How did you interpret this theme in your collection?

In my case, the concept of Bodysm was represented through a specific selection of models who needed to have certain physical characteristics to showcase the collection fully. I needed muscular, tall, blonde models with clear eyes to appear Nordic. From a psychological point of view, I explained in depth in my thesis that anger leads to physical transformations, especially in Vikings, who, according to legends, transformed into warriors with almost animal-like appearances, the Berserkers, from which my collection takes its name. It is a sort of allegory of how our feelings can sometimes lead us to change physically as well as mentally.

What did it mean for you to see your project on the runway?

What I remember most is definitely the work in progress phase for preparing the garments for the show. I was selected among others in my course, so it was definitely a great satisfaction. When I saw the last model return from the runway, I was still very anxious, but when I went out to the applause of the crowd and then returned to the backstage, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted, leaving me with an immense sense of completeness and fulfillment.

When it comes to your work, what motivates you? What gives you the greatest drive?

My projects have always come from the heart, very spontaneously. I have that precise moment when the idea comes to me, and I write it down. What has been very useful for the projects I have created so far has definitely been studying as much as possible to get more ideas because inspiration for a collection can come from anything.

The work presented on the runway by Meazza explored a fascinating and complex theme. This collection is a clear example of how even the most negative emotions, like anger, can be transformed into something extraordinary and artistic. Not just a simple design project, but a visual narration that captures the essence of human emotions and transforms them into garments that tell a story. With his elaborate work, the young designer managed to see beyond the surface and extract hidden beauty even in the darkest emotions.

The first look of the collection features a long cape made from a patchwork of fur and leather, immediately evoking the image of a Viking warrior. The fur hat, also voluminous and majestic, almost symbolizes pride and power. The fringed details and natural tones of brown and green add an authentic and primitive touch, recalling the Nordic roots of the Vikings.

The second look is a bold combination of modernity and tradition. A short fur jacket leaves the model’s torso exposed, paired with simple light trousers. The choice to show bare skin can be interpreted as a symbol of vulnerability, contrasted by the hardness of the fur, representing the dualism between strength and weakness, often fueled by anger.

The third look features a thick wool cape and leather shorts. Metallic details and chains adorn the outfit, adding a touch of aggression and strength. The headpiece with metallic elements and the painted mask on the model’s face recall the iconography of warriors ready for battle, while the surrounding landscape emphasizes the connection with the wild nature.

The fourth look celebrates symbolism and visual power. The model wears an asymmetrical brown leather top, adorned with gold chains that wrap around the body almost ritualistically. The wide leather trousers end with fringes that move with the model, evoking a sense of fluidity and dynamism. The fur arm warmers add another layer of protection and visual power, while the painted mask on the model’s face continues the theme of battle preparation.

The fifth look of the collection represents the deep connection between man and nature. The model wears a short dark brown leather tunic decorated with fur details and gold chains. The tunic is paired with wide trousers, recalling the traditional silhouettes of Viking warriors. The choice to include natural elements like fur and leather is not accidental; these materials represent a direct connection with the earth and nature, a source of strength and protection. The painted mask on the model’s face, with black lines evoking images of war and ancient rituals, adds an element of mystery and depth to the look. This outfit is a celebration of the symbiosis between man and nature, where every element has a precise meaning and function.

The collection deeply explores the feeling of anger, an emotion often considered negative but can be a powerful creative force. Anger, when channeled correctly, can give rise to transformative energy capable of generating impactful works of art. In the context of Viking warriors, anger is not just a feeling but a necessity for survival and conquest. Meazza has managed to translate this emotion into garments that convey strength, resilience, and a brutal yet fascinating aesthetic. The raw furs, worked leathers, and metallic details are all elements that recall the rough and dangerous world of the Vikings, but at the same time show a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that elevates these garments to true works of art. The collection itself was depicted in a bucolic and wild environment, shrouded in mist, almost symbolizing the feelings that sometimes cloud our minds but other times bring us something precious.

Regarding material choice, the designer relied entirely on a selection of genuine leathers and furs, as explained in his thesis:

To best represent the chosen theme, I designed and created a collection representing a series of berserkir warriors using real materials. Fur and leather, apart from some tunics in vegetable fibers, were the only materials the Norse used to cover themselves. From pants to shoulder covers to footwear, everything was made of leather or fur. The Berserkir Collection includes calf and kid leather, sheepskin, rabbit fur, fox fur, opossum, and jackal fur. Only two pants are made of synthetic leather. The fidelity to true Norse costumes was not a choice at the expense of nature; on the contrary, it was a recycling of existing material. The tailoring I relied on for the creation of the garments is actually a former leather and fur workshop, which, with the collapse of production in these materials, had to adapt to classic tailoring. The tailor, like many others, suffered great economic losses and had large quantities of stored and unused materials. With my collection, I want to recreate the possibility of using high-value and quality materials, exploiting the warehouse of all the tailors in the same situation described above. Nature is not affected, Italian craftsmanship is not lost, and we return quality clothes to the world.

Riccardo Meazza’s collection is an emotional and visual journey that explores the complexity of anger and transforms it into art. Each garment is a testament to Meazza’s craftsmanship and his ability to see beauty even in the darkest emotions. With his work, he has created a collection that not only celebrates Viking aesthetics but also the power of artistic expression that can arise from any human emotion. A powerful and inspiring message that reminds us that even the most negative emotions can be transformed into something extraordinary and beautiful. The young designer has shown that fashion is not just a means of self-expression but also a powerful tool for emotional and artistic transformation. With his collection, he has created a link between past and present, between emotion and creation, demonstrating that beauty can arise even from the darkest emotions. A tribute to the strength, resilience, and power of human creativity.