The big winner of the Who Is On Next? talent search this year was Nicola Brognano of Brogano. The 25-year-old women’s wear designer, who comes from Calabria in southern Italy, spent three years working for Giambattista Valli in Paris and a year in Milan with Dolce & Gabbana Haute Couture before he felt the urge to strike out on his own. “I owe everything to Giambattista. He always gave me the freedom to express myself” Brogano says. The designer’s winning Spring 2017 collection, which mixed feminine frills with masculine streetwear, was inspired by Federico Fellini’s “Juliet of the Spirits” and the layered text and photo collages of American graphic artist Barbara Kruger.
Narguess Hatami of women’s wear label Miahatami left her native Iran, where her mother has a clothing brand, at 19-years-old to study costume design and fashion theory in Italy. “I thought I’d return home after university, but I ended up with a job in fashion before I graduated,” she explains. In Italy, she worked for designers Paola Frani, Massimo Giorgetti at MSGM, Marco Morosini and Aviù before launching her own label, which came in second place at the Who Is On Next? competition this year thanks to soft, flowing silhouettes covered with patterns inspired by Persian mosaics. But, the now 35-year-old designer is quick to not be defined by her heritage alone. “I don’t consider my design ethnic,” Hatami says.
Pugnetti Parma designer Filippo Pugnetti has an untraditional background. Instead of attending a fashion design school, the 32-year-old designer, who won this year’s accessories prize, learned leather bag craft working in a Parma production atelier. This way, he can focus on construction and pragmatism, rather than fantasy. For example, the brand’s first design, the “Lift” bag, was inspired by an Italian elevator repairman’s satchel. “A bag is a woman’s best friend,” Pugnetti says. “It has to carry her secrets and stay by her side.”