Today I am really happy and pleased to present you Claudia Ligari, a fashion designer whose work I simply adore and I am following from 2011, when she established her eponymous brand, characterized by an unconventional triumph of femininity and inspired by a strong woman, non-conformism and androgynous vibe.

"The soul of a garment can only be expressed from the person that is wearing it. The right person makes the garments alive; the wrong person makes them simply garments."  these are the words that describe perfectly her design manifesto.

In the last few months she presented her seventh collection, the S/S 2014 that I am showing you here, she left London, moved her production and now talking to me, sincerely, directly and open as she is. Let´s start from the beginning…

Who is Claudia Ligari?
Italian born fashion designer, adopted by London since 2004. Graduated from Istittuto Marangoni in Milan in 2004, after quite few painful years of random jobs in retail and a pretty good career as a senior designer for most of the well-known British high street brands I’ve finally launched my very first collection in SS11. I have a strong personality, stubborn but not so difficult to deal with, always hungry for newness and bored of things too quickly. I love my job but not so much the fashion world in general and when I create my mind is a mess!

What is your current state of mind?
Up and down, excited but scared at the same time. I just moved back to Italy after 9 years in London and it’s a pretty big challenge!

What is your motto?
If you want something done properly do it by yourself!

What is your obsession?
Not sure, I guess I’m obsessed by the fact of asking constantly to myself if I am happy or not

Your last dream (during sleeping :) )?
Really weird! I was like an actor in my own movie/dream. I was presenting my latest collection in London but everything was going wrong and we didn’t have drinks or music…and then, when we finally managed to sort everything out and started dancing all of the sudden the war exploded around us!! Some random people where shooting us and I kept running around from one room to the other but what was also weird was the fact the in one room everyone seemed to be pretty happy and relaxed and kept having fun when in the other room everyone was about to die or shooting someone else!! Horrible!…I guess  it reflects the state of my mind at the moment…a bit shook up.

What is your best quality and what is your biggest weakness?
I  am very tenacious but too impulsive

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be an amazing seamstress but I just don’t have the patience…

What would you change about yourself?
As I mentioned above I’d love to be less impulsive and more rational sometimes.

What the word freedom means to you?
Everything. If I don’t feel free I can’t live happily. I’m a very independent person and I hate when situations or people come my way and hold me back from what I have to do.

Best and worst memory?
Best memories are about the first few years that I lived in London, is when I finally found myself and friends who truly understood me. Worst memory is when my sister had an accident and she was badly injured…in those moments you stop leaving and just hanging in a parallel world, horrible.

In what occasion do you lie?
When I know it’s best for everyone not to know the truth, we call it “white lies” right?

Which smell remembers you your childhood?
My parents’ house by the sea, every time I go there all the smells take me back in time.

As a child what you thought you will become when growing up?
A Fashion Designer, never changed my mind

What turns you into become a fashion designer?
Not sure, just always wanted to do it even thought I was born in a small village and nobody knew anything or was even remotely interested about fashion

What inspires you and what distracts you (turn you off) creatively?
Just been few days in Barcelona and that was very inspiring, just seeing different things makes my mind fantasizing. Rules or absence of freedom in life are killing my creativity.

How much does intuition play a part in the way that you work?
I would say 50/50. It helps to design something that people will want to wear and buy but I believe it’s better to do what you love always, regardless of what is going on out there.

What do you think of the fashion system?
Bla bla bla….fashion should look more at substance and not on surface. There are so many amazing designers out there that never get noticed and so many more who are overrated or get their way in just because they have money but no talent.

Top 3 designers?
Martin Margiela (for changing to way of creating fashion)
Riccardo Tisci 
Alber Elbaz 

What about new way of communication, like blogging?
I don’t mind it, but unfortunately it’s more about surface…

 Do you follow any blog?
Not really, I look at few people from time to time but don’t follow constantly

Top 3 magazines?
Don’t know, I don’t buy many magazines, sometimes I don’t buy them for ages! I don’t like to be too aware of what is going on around me, especially when I create. I like to stay true to myself as much as possible.  But I always loved Numéro for the graphics

Best movie, track, album, exhibition or event?
Best movie: Down by Law 
Track: “Put the Freaks Up Front” from Deus
Exhibition: Hussein Chalayan retrospective in Paris few years ago

What is your personal style and who do you mostly wear?
I tend to always wear the same things and actually my wardrobe it’s pretty small. I like to get rid of things from time to time as it makes me feel better and gives me a good vibe, new start!  I always wear black because it makes me feel comfortable with myself . Lately I have been wearing loads of my stuff mixed with Acne’s. I love what they do (not everything!!) I think they are the “new fashion”, tasteful, clean, comfortable and still quite affordable.

Your Top 5 essentials?
Chunky shoes
black long vest
comfortable trousers
a leather bag

Let´s talk ybout your professional part and how everything started. You told once, that when you moved to Milan, to study fashion, you actually didn´t know a lot about fashion.  How then you knew that this is the right study to go, that this is something you would like to work (let´s just say) for the rest of your life? What made you that decision?
As I mentioned before I didn’t know if it was the right decision, I just felt that was a passion I really wanted to discover. Sometimes I still don’t know if I took the right decision but when I see all the support coming from all of you, than is when I know it was totally worth it.

 Your very first work in fashion was an internship for Missoni, then you worked as an assistant for Giorgio Armani (when he still was at Erreuno, a brand that he established before becoming what he is today) and then when you decided to move to London, you were accepted as an intern for Alexander McQueen. Three big names, but three totally different aesthetics. Could you describe these experiences and how these experiences influenced on your future work and aesthetic?
You are right, three completely different aesthetics. With Missoni it was a truly beautiful experience: first of all the studio was based in a forest in the outskirts of Varese, near Milan. The most wonderful thing about Missoni was the fact the everything was made there. Their famous colorful fabrics where entirely knitted at the studio, faraway from indiscrete eyes so you felt privileged to be able to see and learn that. Also all the production was done there.. it’s a proper family business and it makes you feel part of something very special. The design studio could only have one intern and this is why everything was amazing, you could learn and help and see things from very close by and be involved in every different aspect. It was a 24/7 job, very tiring but worth the pain.
With Erreuno was a completely different story. By that time I’ve graduated and my taste was already taking a quite “minimalistic” direction but unfortunately the company was producing for a target woman that wasn’t really my cup of tea!! But nothing negative as it was still really good to have the opportunity to work alongside the creative director Sonia Speciale and assist her on every aspect of the creation of a collection, from sketching to final product. The fact that was Armani who found it made the whole story more interesting as even after so many years you could still see his signature. I respect him very much as he changed to way to perceive and wear fashion.
When I than landed and internship at McQueen I was the happiest person on heart but also a bit shook up as the way of working there was completely different from Italy.
See, in Italy design studios are more selective and can only have a small amount of interns whether in London each studio tend to have a massive amount of students so it can be quite dispersive and sometimes frustrating as you are working on a piece of jigsaw puzzle but not quite sure on how the all picture will look like or what are they trying to achieve. On the other side it was actually really nice to work with so many students from all over the world as we were also teaching things to each other and supporting each other though sleepless night! It was interesting to see the different approach to fashion and different way of working, it was mainly manual and I love to work manually, I’m not a computer person.

I am not sure if any of those influenced who I am now as a designer but certainly thought me what good fashion is made of.

You established your brand in 2011, when you presented your S/S 2011 collection. What was the turning point to make you to take a decision to establish your own brand? I guess it is really risky and you have to be brave, especially what is happening in last years. Describe, please, the process of making a brand. How to start, especially if you maybe don´t have a strong financial background?
Actually, it all started with my mum suggesting me I should enter this competition in Spain…to enter, you needed to present at least 2 collections and at that time I only had my graduate collection. It was 2 weeks to the deadline and so in one night I’ve designed a small capsule collection of 10 outfits and produced it all in 2 weeks including all the material requested such as sketch books, spec sheets, look book and so and so. It was absolutely insane!!!!! I was working for someone else during the day and working on my stuff at night. I think I’ve never been so tired in my entire life!!

At the end, I didn’t even pass the first selection but I’ve got noticed from Blow PR, one the most famous and well known PR agencies in London who offered to present me to the market and took good care of me for the first few seasons….and so here I am. It’s been a great journey so far but I am glad you mentioned the financial side of it. I used to have a full time job designing for another company and I was the only person financing the label and I still am…. It’s been super hard as doing collections it’s like feeding a baby constantly and so I was broke all the time and my life changed completely. But I was happier and I still am, it’s still hard, especially now that I left my job to look after my label full time but things are working out and I am positive it can only get better. You have good and bad times but you can’t let go on something you have been spitting blood for so long and especially on something that despite all the negative side it’s all yours. Sometimes I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be doing something I love every day…

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If there is a graduate student or anyone that would like to establish his/hers own brand, what would you suggest? I guess that there are many difficulties. Could you tell him/her which things to avoid or do it in a different way?
Always follow your guts and don’t be to impulsive when taking decisions. Even if is something you really want to do think about it more than twice, is it really worth it for the brand? Is this going to help it? You can’t always now for sure but you can try to guess and most of the time you’ll be right believe me. The fashion world is populated of people who want to support you and people who just want to take advantage of you. To most of them it’s only clothes but to you it’s everything and you must stand for it. Mistakes and bad times will come along for sure but mistakes are done so you can learn something from it otherwise where is the fun??  And ho, one last thing, hire an accountant! Or at least someone who could run the cash flow for you… I never meet a designer who was good at managing the money side of the business. I’m not.

After graduation as I already mentioned, you moved to London where you lived and worked till some months ago. Now you are back in Italy. What made you a decision to move from a capital city of prét-a-porter?
I love London with all my heart. It’s my home, more than Italy is to be honest! …but I was so tired of everything that I could not see or appreciate the nice things around me anymore and than is when I understood it was time to live. It might not be forever but let’s say my brain, my body and my creativity needed a break from it. Also, one of my dreams has always been to produce my garments in Italy, so I am here to give it s go. I believe it’s good to move around, if you don’t than things don’t happen…

From the beginning your designs are influenced by a strong woman, non-conformism and androgynous vibe. How would you describe your aesthetic as a designer?
I think you already did! I love menswear but for some reason I always wanted to have a woman wear it. And I think this is where I am coming from….

How for you is important that garments and the design lasts and it´s not just a season-trend thing? Is this a thing you have always in mind while you are making, “building” a new collection?
YES! This is my first rule, my challenge, the brand’s philosophy. I always challenge myself to create something that will stand the time, something that you will be able to wear in 10 years and still feel new  and amazing.

Your eponymous brand is mostly womenswear. You did some menswear pieces in the S/S 2013 collection.  Is there any (future) plan to make a full menswear too? If yes, please tell me more about it.
As mentioned above I truly love menswear,  it’s always my starting point whenever I work on a new collection …so, yes, I definitely plan to extend the brand to a menswear line too. Currently I am more concentrate on establishing my brand’s image as mainly womenswear so I believe the times for me to move onto a new challenge are not mature yet.

Could you please describe your work process (the process of building one collection)? And what is the best and the worst part of your work process? Do you have any person, muse that inspires you while making a collection? Is there any ritual?
I never really have a specific path as I’m quite messy in everything I do!!
It usually starts with something I’ve seen and had in mind for ages, or can just be a feeling, often can be a picture of something, or a piece of fabric a detail I’ve seen somewhere and then I tend to merge the concept with a specific person, like a friend or someone I know who becomes my “muse of the moment”. Having a muse helps you to see things clearly. I’m quite impulsive so I never start from a mood board but I go directly into sketching…sometimes I can do loads of sketches and get to nothing out if it but then eventually, when I don’t expect it the idea comes and once it’s on paper becomes the inspiration that will run through the whole collection. Then it comes the painful part: as a small designer you cannot afford to sample everything you’ve been sketching so I have to start removing or merging things until I get to a collection that has a point but it’s not too big for my pockets if it makes sense. With the experience you learn which sketches will work and which ones will give you headache and most of the time it’s not so easy to translate a concept onto paper and especially to a pattern cutter. I believe you have to have a feeling with your pattern cutters; it’s like a proper relationship! Soon after I put together toiles and prototypes and here is where the collection starts to take a directional image as it’s easier to work on tridimensional garments rather than look at one sketch. I usually do 4 to 5 fits, depending on how things are looking. Sometimes they come out perfect at the first try, some other times you have to try and try and try…..I usually pick fabrics alongside the whole process but when you get to the end of it it’s never possible to have everything I wanted and most of the time I have to compromise because of money issues or time issues (I’m always doing things last minute just because I know I deliver better things under pressure!). Once the patterns, fabrics and trims ready I go to the factory every day for a week or 2 and follow the cutter and the machinist step by step to make sure they understand and deliver exactly what I want. In the meantime I organize look book shoot (not something that I particularly love to do to be honest!), launching, printing etc etc…it never ends!

I can relly imagine all hard work behind each collection, especially when you are as you said a small designer. All your garments are made in the UK, but you are planning now to move the production to Italy. Why is that?
Because I am Italian and I have seen how we do things here. It’s not only about really good manual skills, it’s about putting love in what we do and take good care of everything. When the garment it’s done with love and passion you can see the difference, believe me.

 Could you describe what kind of materials and techniques you use while making a new garment, new collection? Do you re-elaborate (upgrade) materials? Do you collaborate with local artisans?
I use to collaborate with an amazing textile designer based in LA. We were perfect for each other but unfortunately she had to go and work on a bigger project and I haven’t had a minute to talk to her in years! Upgrade and re-elaborate requires a lot of money and good suppliers which is not what you can find in London. This is another reason why I am moved back. I want to push the label to a different level and have things done from small artisan and be able to develop my own fabric. The label needs this more than anything to stand out from the crowd.

Beside clothes, your collections include bags almost each season and you did jewelry, exactly rings for the S/S 2013. How is the process of making a new bag design and any other accessory? Are there any (future) plans to expand the accessories part by adding for example shoes collection?
Again it’s the same story, I’d love to do menswear and I’d love to do more jewelry and accessories and even shoes but I don’t think times are mature yet for me to embark onto a new challenge before I establish Claudia Ligari where it needs to be.
The process for accessories it’s a lot of fun as it’s much easier to get the shapes right at first try and you can play more with fabrics and textures. I collaborate with a small artisan here in my hometown that makes all the jewelry and it’s great to have another brain to support you! Plus he’s teaching me loads of things and he’s a very inspiring person.

What makes your brand, aesthetic unique?
I hope it is because I deliver timeless garments with a hint of Italian femininity mixed with Scandinavian minimalism!

Who you imagine is your customer? How much influence on your vision and on your work has your customer?
I don’t tend to be influenced by my costumer as they don’t tell me what to design, they wait for me to show them what I’ve invented for them to play with. My costumers are people involved in fashion in some ways or have a passion for special things and don’t like to be “homologate” to the others.
My costumer it’s a confident person that takes pleasure from being different, that likes to feel comfortable and appreciate the good quality. I like to think of them as the representation of effortless beauty, a person that makes the clothes alive with his/hers personality.

Tell me about your last collection, the S/S 2014? What is the red line of the collection? Where is the inspiration point? Which material did you use? Tell me also about the construction side of the collection.
When I start working on a collection usually the process it’s quite random. I collect images here and there throughout the year as I know when the time is right just one of them could become a story line for the collection. I then start sketching quite randomly and I have to say the whole thing start to come together only around the 2nd or 3rd fit where I can see the garments and work on them.
With this season I wanted to have a collection that was truly comfortable without compromising the brand’s philosophy of creating quality manufactured timeless pieces. My starting point has always been the sportswear and it is again in this collection. But this time much less feminine and much more unisex.
The blue was an extension of my usual black but still a colour that I consider very elegant and feminine. I have a thing for “all in one colour outfits” as they give the right impact to the garments and definitely make you stand out from the crowd.
The process involved in each collection it’s pretty much the same every time. The pieces are coming alive on the second stage, where the sketch becomes a toile and that’s the part I prefer the most. Working directly on the pieces makes things so much easier to visualize. This time I had a very precise idea of what I wanted in each garment so the process was quite easy apart from my waxed cotton mac! It took me three seasons before I could actually get it right, sometimes you have a thing in mind and it’s difficult to translate exactly onto a garment, I can’t really explain what it is, it’s more a sensation rather than an image in your head. When I garment it’s correct and done I smile and that’s the sign that tells me we can go ahead.

Your favorite piece from that collection and why is that?
Love the navy silicon waxed mac with side slits and shirt style collar because I have been trying to do it for the past 2 seasons bur never got the pattern right and now, after a million of fits it’s finally perfect. I love it!

How you promote your brand? What you should do more? What are your plans?
The label has always been looked after a PR agency that helps me to support the brand at best and guides me through each next step allowing me to reach out to magazines, bloggers, etc... When you run your own label it is very important to choose the right team and that’s not always easy.
Currently, the brand is going through a transitional moment that aims to take it to a step further in terms of image, manufacture and consequently brand’s perception. I am now in the process to move all the production in Italy, to be finally able to fulfill the growing demand and shorten lead times and at the same time achieve an outstanding manufacture to reflect at best the main philosophy behind the brand.
The label grows and changes with me and after few seasons and lots of achievements I now know exactly where I want to drive the label and where I want to place it in the market. It takes few seasons to develop this knowledge and your signature, and I am glad eventually the label is taking the right path.
London has been a great launching platform but now the time has come to grow the label into a more established condition where you can reach out to the best manufactures and fabric suppliers in order to deliver a product that makes the difference and allows you to stand out from the crowd.  

Beside the online shop in your main website, where we can find your brand? What are your plans on how to expand the brand?
Claudia ligari is currently stocked in Tokyo and New York, but also sold on several other online platforms based in UK and USA.
Gain new stockist it’s the biggest challenge for a designer and there few different ways to reach out to buyers. I believe we live in an era of social media, a comfortable situation that makes everything easier for us to reach out to people, but because of this situation, we underestimate the power of human relations. You are the person behind your brand so you have to put your face to be able to gain something. Does this make sense? Being anonymous won’t take the brand any further, to reach out you have to physically move and interact with the world. I am in constant changing mode and I tend to travel quite often as I believe we make the world spin and not the other way around.

What is next? And how you see your brand in future, like in ten years (2023)?
Any designer aims to stand out from the crowd and make it work so this is exactly what I want to see if I envision myself and the brand in ten years time.  

Is there anything you would like to add, make a point to, that we didn´t?
I would like to make an appeal to the Italian Fashion Council….”hellooooooooo!!! We are here and we are so many and we can also help to move the economy!!!  Gives us some recognition and some help and we will make you proud!

+ you shop Claudia Ligari on her web-shop

/ All photos courtesy of Claudia Ligari /


  1. She sounds nice. Love her design!

  2. It´s the first time I heard about this designer, definitely worth to memorize.

  3. Tedore, you did it again.. What a spectacular interview! Thank you!!

  4. I didn’t know her, this is a really interesting post to me!

  5. This interview was so beautiful I am so happy I found this site. She is a beauty I love how she confronts the world and the challenges she faces. Her designs are breath taking.


    1. Thank you a lot Kirstie, means a lot to me <3