THE LIFE OF A COLLECTION: LUIS BONFIGLIO

This season, we’re following designer Luis Bonfiglio as he puts together a collection – from the first inception of the designs through to the finished pieces. This issue, we introduce the man himself – in his own words.

My name is Luis Bonfiglio and I’m an Italian fashion designer based in Amsterdam.   In the age of 13, I knew that I wanted to become a fashion designer. My great-grandfather was a well known couturier in Sicily, Italy – the country where my parents are originally from.

I was born and raised in the beautiful country of Switzerland.

Being creative was always a part of my life. After finishing high school at the age of 15, I went to the College of Design and Art in Zurich. Then at 16, I moved to Luzern to do an internship as a couturier in an atelier for one year. During my internship, I learned different techniques on how to sew different garments like skirts, trousers, dresses, and jackets. My mentor back then was a super strict old lady. She was very hard on me but it was an amazing experience as I learned so much from her, even though I cried sometimes!

After completing my internship in Luzern, I moved to St. Gallen where I did an apprenticeship for 3 years as a stylist.  After getting my diploma as a stylist, I worked as a part-time stylist and began studying to become a fashion designer in Zurich at the Swiss Textile College.  After two years of studying and lots of hard work, I graduated with a Bachelor
of Arts degree. During the time that I was studying and working parttime, I created my own little atelier/studio at home and started attracting my own clientele. During this time I created lots of designs for different VIPs in Switzerland, such as DJ Tanja La Croix, top model Ronja Furrer, Nadja Broenimann, and Miss Switzerland Linda Fäh, just to name a few!

I’ve also collaborated with Swarovski, designing dresses for their windows at the flagship store in Zurich at the Bahnhofstreet.

After my BA I had the luck to get a job in a small boutique where I was the head of design and created there their collections. At the same time as working as the head of design for the boutique, I still worked for my own brand, Luis Bonfiglio couture.

After 2 years working as a head of design, I changed career and entered into visual merchandising for the MANGO flagship store in Zurich. I was there for 2 years in the VM management team and continued working for my own brand.

At the age of 27, I decided to move away from Switzerland and went to London, where I lived for 3 years.  In London, I started working in retail (I thought just for the start, but ended up working in retail the entire time I was living there haha).  I was working for the first 9 months at Mount Street in Mayfair for Pringle of Scotland and then moved to the house of CÉLINE at Harrods in Knightsbridge.  Unfortunately, time didn’t permit me to continue with creating fashion; instead, I was selling fashion!

In March 2018 I decided to relocate to Amsterdam and I’ve rediscovered myself as a fashion designer. In August 2018 I started my new collection for Fall/Winter 19/20. This collection represents me and tells who I am as a fashion designer.

I live in the beautiful and trendy area of  “De Pijp” which is actually just a 10 min cycle from my current workplace, which pretty cool.

Once again I’ve set up my studio in my apartment –  I have all my equipment like sewing and overlock machines, dress forms, etc. I love this place as it gives me so much inspiration and in general Amsterdam has that creative vibe to me. 

As you can see, I use my big table for sketching and sewing, actually for everything!  

I remember when I started to do fashion sketches, I was always so bad at drawing faces and hair.  So now instead of drawing sketches as most designers do, I created my very own “Miss Robot” fashion sketch template!  This gives a flair of futurism combined with timeless designs. I think they are pretty cool and I believe when people see my sketches they will always remember me as “The designer that uses a robot for his fashion sketches.”   So how do I start a collection? 

First of all, the most important thing is to create a mood board. What is a mood board? This is a board where designers put different pictures together that can inspire them. A mood board is used to create a story! A mood board, also called an inspiration board, can be created by using several or just one single image. Only you as a designer can decide what inspires you.

It can be an image that has great importance or holds fond memories, maybe an old picture of your grandparents. It can be an object, a specific flower or maybe pictures from the last place you travelled to on holiday. In my design process, I prefer to use several images so that in the end I can choose the strongest images that compliment each other and show a clear idea of my vision.

After creating the mood board I continue with creating a colour board. This colour board shows the colours that I want to use within my collection and requires a lot of research. For my upcoming collection, I want to follow the Fall/Winter 19/20 colour trends but mix it up with my own colour taste. At the end of the day, the colour board has to inspire you and translate the vision of my collection.   Once I have created a story for my collection (mood board & colour board), I start to do some raw sketches, these are sketches that show different silhouettes and shapes, lengths of the garments, etc. Automatically I design one look after the other and then I finalise the designs from those raw sketches into detailed sketches.  I then decide on how to translate my inspiration into the sketch, complete the design and then create it in 3D.  After this part of the design process is completed, it’s time to experiment with colour which is actually a long process until I really happy with the final designs as a sketch. 

This is a really amazing process as it really brings out all my creativity and allows me to try things that I’m familiar with, new things, and even reinvent myself. Each new collection is a whole new journey and I grow every single time. 

Once I have decided on what the final looks are, I begin making the patterns either through draping on the dress form or drawing them technically on big sheets of paper. You will see this next step in an upcoming issue of London Runway!

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