Diego Della Valle is a big fish in the fashion world pond. But with his latest 'Future Roots' project for shoe brand Hogan, part of his illustrious Tod's Group, he has proved that no one in the design world can say no to him either. The ambitious photographic project, presented at Milan's Contemporary Art Pavilion (PAC) during Men's Fashion Week in June, involved wrangling, scheduling and shooting no fewer than 37 of the world's best known industrial designers and architects during the busiest, most crucial work week of their year: Salone del Mobile.
Della Valle had his brainwave exactly two weeks prior to the furniture fair. And yet, squeezing the logistics of such an ambitious project proved to be just another breezy slam dunk for this multi-tasking fashion mogul. 'We actually never thought of it as an impossibility,' observes Andrea Della Valle, Diego's brother and vice president of Tod's Group. 'In fact, it was easy.'
Aiding in the last minute scramble was Donata Sartorio, an esteemed Italian fashion journalist, who served as curator of the project and Ornella Sancassani, an architecture photographer who is seasoned in shooting buildings rather than the people who design them. 'I had some apprehension going into this, as I come from the world of architecture and still-life where there is no movement,' says Sancassani. 'So I decided the best thing was not to take myself, or my subjects, too seriously.'
Each designer was given a choice of Hogan footwear to model, but by virtue of the numbers of the City Tech shoes, it's safe to say that most architects and designers share the same taste in fashion. They also share common ideas about luxury, heritage and innovation - buzz words in the Hogan gospel, and the concept that linked these creatives with their host.
Sights are set on bulking up the group of featured designers to reach an even 50. 'Our next step is to go to China and Japan to round out the mix with Asian talent,' explains Andrea Della Valle. Once a more global picture of today's architecture and design talent has been completed, the project will travel to Asia for an outdoor exhibition for the public.