Daniela Corcio is the designer of an Italian lingerie brand under the mystical “Ikonostas” name.
We’ve had an interview with Daniela to find out what inspires her and how miracles are worked.
Follow your dream
I was born close to Milan but my parents moved to the South of Italy when I was 6 years old. Dreams there are not so easy to follow, since people are more involved in family affairs and in having a secure job.
When I was a child I wanted to study dance, but my parents didn’t have sufficient money for that. Then I thought to study art, but also this time I was pushed in another direction.
Coming of age I just said: “Now I do what I want”.
With that in mind I moved to Florence, where my goal was to study at the prestigious school of fashion called Polimoda.
It was very expensive and a way to study there was to pass the entrance exam at The University Liberal College.
Only 20 students were admitted and I was coming from a high school of accounting, that means my preparation was equal to zero.
I decided to go to another school of fashion paying my studies with side jobs and surviving with the help of my parents. In a few months I tried to participate in the big exam I was waiting for, ranking 3rd among 200 persons.
That was my first personal challenge in fashion.
After graduation I looked for a studio in Prato, a city close to Florence, that I knew used to work for Vivienne Westwood. That was the reason why I wanted to do my internship there.
Vivienne was my muse since I was 13 after I had seen one of her fashion shows on TV.
I was extremely fascinated by the unusual way she dressed the models: the style was so provocative but elegant at the same time. And the classic music embraced the show in a superlative way. At that moment I decided that one day I will do something for this designer.
The minimum period of internship in Italy is 3 months. After only 2 months in the Italian studio the chief invited me to go to London to meet Vivienne Westwood in person. They were proposing me to work between London and Prato as The Head of Production for Gold Label. I was 23 years old.
Within years of work for Vivienne Westwood I became the Head of Product Design and Head of Atelier, so I was responsible also for many decisions in terms of style.
Furthermore, as the Italian studio worked for other brands, I coordinated some capsule collections for brands such as Chloé, Proenza Schouler, Christian Lacroix, Comme des Garçons.
In this way I had experience of different kind of products and I acquired knowledge of collection development in all of its aspects.
At the same time I didn’t want to give up on the process of creation, so I chose to work for the Italian studio as a consultant.
It let me get some time to work in theatre as costume designer and in International art performances as the creator for the visual concept.
It was during one of this performances that I discovered the name Ikonostas. I was in Saint Petersburg for an art festival where I exhibited and I saw so many medieval Russian icons. I wanted to know more about them.
Thus I read a book “Ikonostas” by Pavel Aleksandrovic Florenski. I was captured by the description he does concerning their function as a threshold between the visible world and the invisible world of divinity. He describes the icons as the visible symbol of a spiritual world.
That was exactly what I perceived while I was creating the costume for the performance in Saint Petersburg.
I see the act of creation as my invisible world and the final piece I create as the visible one, the touchable icon of my inner side.
In 2008 I was invited by the International Network Dessous to participate in a fashion show at Palazzo Strozzi, in Florence, as a representative of the city’s creativity. It was a lingerie fashion show and I’ve never made anything in that field before. For me it was nice to embrace this new challenge, but I have to admit I felt as a designer out of place in that show.
I constructed all the pieces using tailoring techniques and I mixed together materials such as silk rubber with knitwear. The dressers asked me to be in the backstage of the show because they were scared to be unable to put the styles on the models in the right way.
Meanwhile I was scared to receive boos because of my unusual approach to lingerie but, unexpectedly, when my outfits went out I heard from the backstage so many claps and a roar of voices and compliments.
The day after I received a call from Neiman Marcus buyers. They were at the show and they wanted see my collection.
I had an agreement with the studio where I worked that helped me to make the pieces for the show, they had to develop together with me the rest of the collection. Unfortunately they didn’t respect our agreement because they were busy to follow other customers.
I believed that showing only the pieces I had made for the catwalk wasn’t enough for the American buyers, so I renounced at the meeting. It was a big failure for me.
Then, to my great surprise, in 2010 I received a call from Linea Intima. They advised me that from the first fashion show at Palazzo Strozzi Ikonostas name was spoken around, and I was recognized as one of the best eight emerging lingerie designers in the world in terms of research and innovation.
So I was invited to participate as a special guest in a lingerie fair.
I had only 3 weeks to design and present my lingerie collection there, so I had to work like mad!
And I did it! I received a positive feedback from the audience, and at that point a confirmation for myself that I had to continue to experiment in this field.
Collection after collection I discovered a new world that now is a part of my life that I really love.
In my collections creation I love the process of research. This is something that sometimes borns random, for example during a travel or during a visit to a museum, or just reading a book or listening to some music.
If my mind is captured in a particular way by something I start to go deep inside that.
I don’t have a perfect working day, I like to be involved in different fields.
And sometimes I work as stylist or art director for fashion shoots.
I am happy when I can transmit the emotions behind a product to my students and to develop with them new ideas, and I am glad to spend days working with photographers, artists and models at the same project. There’s a special energy everytime when different minds are enthusiastic to work in one direction.
I also like to be alone to develop new ideas. I enter in an intimacy atmosphere with my fabrics, my mannequin, some paper, a pencil and more than over with music. Just in this way I can experiment without any limit.
I am really glad to be inspired by all those things I met in Russia. I’ve always been interested in the study of the body and its gesture. I’ve always loved ballets, more than others I admire Vaslav Nijinskij and Serjei Diaghilev, and Leon Bakst has always been my favorite costume designer.
Besides music, ballet, books and traveling, I draw lots of inspiration from people. My heroin is Tilda Swinton, I love her works, her skin, her gestures. She is so ethereal but really feminine and sensual. I see her dressed in my long silk and tulle kimonos.
Otherwise, for lingerie sets and clothes I imagine somebody like Madonna. I know they are completely at the opposite but, as I said, I love to play with contrasts.
Keira Knightley of course is an actress I would love to dress, she is so beautiful in her natural way.
My lingerie is something to be worn by a strong woman but romantic and gentle at the same time.
I don’t follow the current trends because I don’t want to be influenced by others and I think that lingerie is more open in this sense compared to pret à porter.
I am working on my new collection that is really difficult to create. I have many ideas and I would like to plan everything in the best way. And, at this point, I would like to position my brand properly in the market.
Until now I’ve been doing everything by myself with some collaborators but I would like to look for an investor or a company interested to launch my brand.
I am positive that if you desire something and you do sacrifices to follow your passion you can do everything!
Ikonostas Stockists: Dolci Follie (London), Zou Zou (Rome)
Also Ikonostas offers customized service. All contacts here.
Credits for the top post image: Editorial for Miss Italia 2014 finalists, ph. Manuela Kali