With his gender-inclusive designs that refer to the avant-garde fashion of the eighties, Matteo La Rosa scores top marks. Tom Eerebout, Lady Gaga’s Flemish stylist, is a fan. After a few seasons of prêt-à-porter, La Rosa is now playing the couture card.
What makes you different from other designers?
We don’t want to release a commercial line that comes back every season. I don’t want to put that pressure on myself. Actually what I say is, ‘fuck the fashion world, fuck the fashion calendar.’ My customers would rather buy something that comes straight from my heart than something that was mass produced. That’s why I’m now focusing solely on couture. I want to offer exclusivity and give people the chance to purchase a unique piece from me. With La Rosa I want to create not just fashion but a whole lifestyle, right down to complete interiors. Why not have a wall paint that radiates the same drama as my fashion creations?
What is the biggest challenge in your work?
On the one hand, I want to make La Rosa a brand that is known worldwide, but on the other hand, as a designer, I very much adhere to the principle of keeping it intimate. It’s an eternal conflict. After my last collection, I didn’t know what to do anymore. I was losing the emotion and it was becoming a drag. I had to make a choice to preserve my creativity. That’s my advice as well: try to stay true to yourself, because in the fashion world you can lose yourself very quickly. It’s also a challenge financially. I still work very hard outside of La Rosa. I’m a lecturer in fashion illustration and shoe design in Limburg. Sometimes I pull all-nighters. I know I can’t keep combining that, so I’m doing everything I can to be profitable in the shortest possible time.
How do you deal with sustainability and technology?
From the very beginning, I wanted to be sustainable. Everything is made in Belgium, except for our leather articles in Italy. I don’t buy roll fabric either. That would be cheaper, but what would I do with all that extra fabric? Because everything is tailor-made, I don’t have overstock either. I also want to set up a digital showroom – a kind of performance in an empty warehouse viewable with VR headsets. That way I can show my creations to people all over the world and make them feel like they’re completely in my world.