After our tour of Zegna, we stopped in at the ALIAS factory to have a look at the latest Versace samples and prototypes. The center was founded in the late 70's by Gianni Versace, who wanted to have a place to focus on the creation of innovative new models. Versace has no real consistency in color, shape, silhouette, etc., because of their philosophy of innovation, and so there is a strong need for prototyping, which allows for the learning process in each new design. While ALIAS creates various prototypes for the upcoming collections, it creates one sample collection with some replication for sales campaigns around the world, in addition to some made-to-measure pieces for very special clients. There is a direct link to ALIAS from the design office in Milan, from which Donatella and her team send very detailed sketches for another team of patternmakers to translate. Most prototypes are made first from paper, then from canvas or another cheap materials that has the same fabric weight and similar movement to the final fabric desired. Prototypes and then samples are produced in size 38 long for testing and sales campaigns, and then another round of samples are made in size 42 as the basis for manufacturing. (The goal is to have a long, slender silhouette for sales, but to produce clothes that fit "real women" in the manufacturing process.)
There are three collections per season: a pre-, main, and runway collection. The last collection was inspired by a trip to Berlin where Donatella's design team came across the collage works of artist Tim Roeloffs. The artist was asked to study Versace designs and icons and blend his own inspiration from Berlin into a collage. The artist mixed traditional versace colors (bright yellow and pink) with industrial colors and images from Berlin, in addition to quirky components such as his and Donatella's dogs. The collage was transferred into a print for fabric, which the collections key dresses were made from. Aplica flowers inspired by 1960s wallpaper (which was frequently referenced by the late Gianni) were sewn onto the dresses to further the 3D element of the collage.
We were lucky enough to have a private fashion show by the lovely fit model, and caught a glimpse of the extensive archives located above the production floor. The archives contain little treasures from every collection throughout the history of the fashion house, and serve as inspiration for new garment models or as references to technical details.
More information on Tim Roeloffs and the collection can be found at http://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/tim-roeloffs-collaboration/2115