Michelina Miccio founded her niche unisex label, Speaking Garments, at the start of 2017. ‘I was ready for a change,’ says the Cologne-based entrepreneur, who had previously worked as the German communications director for global brands Diesel and Replay. ‘The requirements of my role had become increasingly more commercial and I also had concerns about mass production,’ she notes. ‘So I decided to go my own way.’
While contemplating her next move, she became increasingly absorbed in contemporary art, and in particular, by the work of German sculptor Michail Pirgelis. ‘I had admired his profundity and attention to detail for a long time,’ she notes. Pirgelis, who also lives in Cologne, is an acquaintance of Miccio and emailed her photos of sculptures he had crafted from discarded aeroplane parts in preparation for a new exhibition at Sprüth Magers Los Angeles. ‘It was a eureka moment,’ she muses. ‘I knew I wanted to do something that united art and fashion.’
Speaking Garments collaborated with sculptor Michail Pirgelis on its debut clothing collection
She decided to develop a unique line of limited-edition garments, created seasonally in collaboration with an artist that she feels a strong connection to. ‘I asked Michail if he would like to work on the first collection with me and was so thrilled when he said yes.’ Together, they developed a hand-sewn T-shirt and sweater with the help of local designer Chang Zun Chung. The sweater, which sports an easy, athletic cut, is outfitted with an angular broach that Pirgelis crafted from an abandoned DC-10 aircraft from the Mojave Desert. While the T-shirt is printed with an iconic Pan Am publicity shot that depicts clown Charlie Rivel disembarking an aeroplane. Both styles are hand-signed by Pirgelis and contain a numbered certificate.
‘It took us six months to perfect those two pieces,’ says Miccio. The offering, which goes on sale at Speaking Garments’ e-store in October, is the first of many creative unions – each of which will reflect the aesthetic sensibility of the guest artist. ‘I have a good feeling about it,’ she enthuses. ‘Wait until you see what’s next.’