Named after Paolo Conte’s 1980s pop song, Come Di, Elisa Arienti’s fashion label La Come Di is the flower that just keeps on growing; whether she is incorporating her photographic eye, her techno DJ skills, or her diligence of interior design, Elisa never ceases to put her every talent into her groovy designs for LCD.
Having completed her higher education at the Politecnico di Milano, it is only natural that Elisa draws her creative inspiration from the corners and depths of 20th century artistic movements like Dada, Bauhaus, and iconic epochs like the 1960s and 1970s, which go so far as to permeate even the makeup looks of the models showcasing her clothes. Her drive and independence in managing a one human studio is truly inspiring and her ceaseless ambition will surely take her even further artistically in the future.
Today we speak to the creative behind La Come Di, the slow fashion brand taking a stand against fast fashion whilst remaining idiosyncratic and affordable. Elisa, what does a normal day look like for you?
My day is mainly spent in my studio which is in my home. I love to be able to have my own personal space where I work, design, do illustrations, paint etc. I normally wake up, have my coffee and soon after just spend my day there doing the La Come Di tasks of the day. I work alone and I still love it even if at times it can be isolating.
You were born in Bergamo (Italy) in 1986. Was your country of origin a great source of inspiration for you during your childhood?
Definitely! Italian culture is so rich in art and design that it is almost impossible not to be inspired by it. I have always loved fine art since I was a kid, my memories of spending hours drawing are really vivid and happy memories. I loved to spend time in my grandad’s studio; he is an interior designer and painter. Through school I also studied architecture and furniture design which really shaped who I am as a designer today. I’m really close to artistic movements of the last century, like Memphis Milano founded by Sottsass, the trippy visuals and illusions of Vasarely, the Bauhaus architecture and its beautiful geometric lines and the crazy surrealism of Dada to name a few.
After graduating from Politecnico di Milano, where you completed your degree in Interior Design, you seem to have had a multitude of experiences with diverging brands, including Volkswagen, McDonald’s, Levi’s, and Tommy Hilfiger. How did these experiences enrich your art and skillset?
I worked as an art director for many years in international advertising agencies and that was a beautiful ride. A tough one but beautiful in many ways as I got to work for important brands and grew into the creative I am today. I can confidently say my extensive skill sets started growing from there as I learnt to work with amazing creatives, photographers, illustrators etc.
At which point did you realise it was time to propel your own vision for La Come Di?
I reached the point where I wanted to focus on my creativity instead of doing heavy projects for others. I always liked the idea to try and have my own studio. LCD started as an open project, a hybrid between design and fashion. I had to learn and master new skills to be able to design fashion pieces. Creating prints and designs is the easiest part for me so I’m still learning. But 2020 was a really important year for me and La Come di, that’s when I really focused on making the brand a real independent brand.
Some of your many identities include art director, multidisciplinary designer, visual artist, photographer, and techno DJ! Do you find a way to incorporate all of these talents into your work for LCD?
I totally do, being an independent designer, I have to juggle between everything possible to make LCD thrive. For example, I lately found out I really enjoy photographing myself, my models and lookbooks. It allows me to control the creative direction as I envision it in my head. I also do love to collaborate with other people of course but sometimes using different skills is the fastest easiest way especially when it’s just a small brand like LCD. I also wish I had 30 hours a day to be able to create more, that’s for sure.
Please tell us more about your DJing skills. Will we see you DJ at an upcoming La Come Di fashion show? Should we expect upcoming music from Elisa Arienti?
It has happened before, I made the set for our debut runway in 2019. Having said that, the type of techno I play is really dark and fast so it’s definitely the other side of my personality that I like to keep separated. My DJ name is Dea and I hope I can start producing one day.
Your one human studio brand La Come Di is based both in your motherland and Dubai. How did this dichotomy emerge? Do you feel that the two places share commonalities in terms of fashion and creativity in general?
I’m based in Dubai because of family reasons and as of now after Covid it looks like I won’t be moving back anytime soon unfortunately. I definitely feel a bit isolated being here and I miss Europe, but Dubai is also a nice place for many other things, like being part of a city that has so many cultures. There is a thriving creative scene and I have to say it’s very different, so there is not much of a common ground with my work, but it’s something good to see and experience.
Your Fall/Winter 2021 collection for LCD appears inspired by various styles and movements; most evident is the inspiration of the ‘60s and ‘70s seen in the groovy, swirly, and checkered patterns which appear in many of your clothes and accessories. You mentioned the Memphis Milano Movement and Victor Vasarely’s work as some of your influences. How do you arrive at this balance of allowing different styles and works to stimulate you in your creative process rather than subdue your own vision?
I think it takes a few years to narrow through all the million things you are close to as an artist and find your own style. When it comes to mine, it took me until now to funnel through all these stimuli and combine them together in a good way. But also taking life itself as inspiration and things I experienced and love to create my own vision.
La Come Di’s latest collection was a year in the making before its launch – how did the idea for this collection come about? Do you have a specific process when beginning a new collection?
The last collection was literally me as clothing. I went through some life changes, the brand changed and of course Covid lockdowns were happening so it was such a weird time, [it was] painful in a way, but I really wanted to put all myself out there, using the most representative work that is close to my heart as an artist. When it comes to creating ideas for a collection I don’t have a specific process, sometimes I get ideas in the weirdest hours, sometimes I have to really focus and get inspired by a lot of other things. I can just say I’m working now on the next collection and there is still that colourful printed LCD look and feel throughout, but I added some more 3D elements by layering fabrics or creating shapes in a different way. I am really excited to show it to the world.
Is there a certain time or place that makes you feel most creative or motivated to design clothes for LCD?
Going back home really helps me focus or any time there is some change, that’s what works best. It could be changes in the weather or places I am, travels or just a change within me. Some months are really hard to find motivation too, as many creatives, we all suffer with our really high sensitivity so as of now I’m okay being in my studio and surrounding myself with good things for my soul.
When it comes to your work you clearly don’t like to confine yourself in categorical boxes or strict definitions. Where do you see this artistic fluidity taking you next?
I definitely want to continue focus on my fashion path and keep growing the brand, but also work more on my illustration and I want to expand on that area. I literally would love to do so many things in my mind, but it’s way too much (laughs). I could see myself being a photographer, designing homeware, being a music producer…it’s honestly a bit endless with me. I love to keep learning and challenging myself.