THE DESIGNER OF THE 21st CENTURY
Andrea Skye Brocca is your guy. Razor-sharp cheekbones, 1.87 m and a spark of Italian charm. This is the guy to whom Yves Saint Laurent relinquished his Guinness Book record as the World’s Youngest Couturier. He is 17, has his own label and has recently been accepted to ‘L’École de la Chambre Syndical de la Couture Parisienne‘.
At 16 he was awarded the title of ‘The youngest haute couturier in the world’ (received by Yves Saint Laurent at 21). However, ‘having the award doesn’t mean I can sit down and chill. I have to work harder than ever to prove myself. Anyway, I have a huge respect for Yves Saint Laurent. I think his perception of reality was far off everyone else’s, so to even be compared to him, is the biggest achievement for me. Couture is not something to joke with.’ And this is why he recently started his own label launching a boutique in Dubai. ‘Designing is thrilling and exciting, like an addiction,’ gushes the young designer, ‘I do, however, remember that I used to be drawn by the luxury and beautiful scents of high fashion. It was a gradual process, it always is. Now it’s progressed to a love for conceptual innovation, elegance and a strong aesthetic.’ And the best part of fashion design? ‘The consistency of change.’ Meanwhile, he is modest about his record as it only reflects his hard work.
When he was just 13 he entered competitions like Harpers Bazaar’s Fashion Illustrator of the Year, which got him in the top 3 two years in a row: ‘I felt proud at the time because my adversaries were professionals. I then luckily got and internship with Alice Temperley’ How? ‘I met her when she came to open her Dubai boutique and I insisted she look at my sketchbook. Eventually, she did. And that’s how it started.’ It continued with Andrea interning for her for a couple of summers and creating a dress that went straight into her net-a-porter collection – under Andrea’s own name. His highly coveted designs are glamour elevated to the nth degree. Is it because of his appreciation of French cinema? (Les amours imaginaires being his all-time favourite) ‘Ideas come whenever – wherever,’ he proclaims smiling. ‘However, most strong and long lasting ideas come from a momentary mind frame and work as a domino effect. I usually feed off an initial idea which, in some cases, leads me to create a theme for a collection.’
With his latest collection he stunned convention creating a line both sporty and elegant. ‘I have never had training before this, so everything I learnt was by myself. I have learnt about the female body, the temple of this industry and now I am focusing heavily on volume and texture. I find myself immersed in a quest to find elegance and femininity through most unconventional means. By using fabrics such as patent leather, nylon, net, fur, stretch cotton jersey, thick satins and so on, I have explored sportswear through the sharp contrast between the fabric texture and the elegance of the outcome. I also love the simplicity I can create through the execution and the concept behind the theme. I don’t feel intimidated by simplicity, I can create elegance out of it, and I understand combination along with creation.’ No wonder his favourite designer is Dior’s own Raf Simons: ‘The fusion of aesthetics he brings to the table is spectacular. The cuts which he modernises are a work of art. I bow down to the Belgian.’
Nevertheless, Andreea is pretty successful himself, having a new magazine spread about him being published every other week. And did I mention he is only 17? ‘My age is irrelevant to me. I don’t feel I am in the spotlight unless I am in the zone of a heavy fashion understanding circle per se, and in these circumstances I feel honoured that people take their time to acknowledge me.’ The truth is that the party scene in Dubai is incomplete without his ultra chic presence. He spends his Saturday night ‘feeling nervous because I have done none of my homework and spent all my time in the atelier. I like to handle everything personally which unfortunately takes some time.’ Regardless, between a club or a cosy DVD at home he would choose a ‘chilled movie night in forever and ever. I love European cinematography and I really respect Tom Ford for his execution in film making. I focus heavily on a strong semantic field more than the story line, which makes A single Man one of my all time favourites!’ Ironically, one can never find Andrea at home during the holidays. He travels a lot. ‘Yes I do’, he says, ‘though to specific places, such as Milan (my home town), Cannes, Paris and London. My favourite is Paris. I think it’s absolutely exquisite. The charm, elegance and aesthetic of the city is very inspiring.’
But his plans for this summer sound different: ‘I am going to work in London for some time, I might go to NYC to visit my sister and then Paris – to move in! I got accepted to ‘L’École de la Chambre Syndical de la Couture Parisienne’ – an amazing school founded by the federation of haute couture, it’s very exciting – YSL, Karl and Valentino all studied there!’ Meanwhile, with Dubai (where he is currently living and studying), the fashion prodigy has a quid pro quo relationship: ‘Dubai is a concentrated dome of power and opportunity. Its incredible growth has also influenced my drive to go further. Plus, while most cultures rely on the Past, Dubai relies on the future; just as fashion does.’ In return, Andrea puts his talent into a brand which is young, growing and momentarily catering to a niche clientele.’ He has also flirted with modelling and is in for the Elite Models National Casting. Yet, when asked why not modelling, his answer is that: ‘I do get mistaken for a girl all the time – Hooray! I don’t recognise the glamorous side of this industry. Maybe I’ll try it, but I already have my passion! Oh, and most importantly, I don’t even know if I have what it takes to be one! – I must hear Sarah Doukas’ verdict!”
Plus, he does love his moelleux au chocolat a little too much to give it up. So, when talking about the future he identifies himself with fashion. ‘I want to expand to Europe and work within the realms of haute couture. Oh, and to have some of my idols wear my pieces! And I wanted to do a BA in womenswear at Central St Martins since I was 6. To be accepted would mean the world to me.’
In the end, what is Andreas’ key to success? ‘Always stay true to yourself. Don’t think of the outcome, because you will live in the future, and don’t compare, because you’ll live in the past. Goes without saying that I have a very strong passion. So conviction too, I guess!’