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23 Sep

Karoline Vitto prepares to interrupt the mould in Milan

With only a few weeks to go before her first solo show in Milan tomorrow, London-based, Brazilian-born designer Karoline Vitto is facing some sleepless nights. She has reached one of the vital difficult parts of the lead-up to her show: model castings. It’s because Vitto’s eponymous label, founded in 2020, covers UK sizes 8 to twenty-eight and the designer is set to showcase many of the range on the runway, versus sticking to at least one sample size, normally a UK6 or 8, as most brands do. 

“Possibly you will have an array of samples in UK14, 20 and 18, but you don’t find the proper model and so suddenly you will have to regulate the dress, recast the model or remake the garment,” she explains over Zoom. “It’s a more intricate process in comparison with regular shows, where you will have one size for everybody. It’s possible — it just requires numerous steps.”

Most designer brands offer sizes as much as a UK16. Anything above that is commonly deemed too expensive to provide because it requires extra fabric, more samples and recent patterns. None of this has deterred Vitto who, since graduating from London’s Royal College of Arts with a masters in fashion womenswear in 2019, has been on an upward trajectory.

Her graduate collection was picked up by fashion publications akin to Dazed and i-D. Two years later, the designer landed a Vogue Brazil cover, making a custom dress for model Precious Lee. She held her first show during London Fashion Week in September 2022, as a part of talent scheme Fashion East.

Models wear looks from Vitto’s AW23 collection, together with her signature metal inserts and cut-outs . . . 
 . . . which aim to intensify the wearer’s curves and provides space to their body

Her Milan show is supported by Dolce & Gabbana, which each and every season since 2022 has covered the total show and production costs for a selected emerging designer, in addition to providing access to ateliers and archive fabrics. Previous editions have included Tomo Koizumi, Matty Bovan and Miss Sohee.

Vitto was born in Caçador in 1992, but in 2010 moved to Florianópolis on Santa Caterina Island in southern Brazil to check for a BA in fashion design on the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina. She recalls going to the beach and immediately feeling self-conscious. “I felt like I needed to restrict [myself] into a perfect of a beauty standard,” she says. Moving to London in 2016 provided a change of perspective. “In London I didn’t feel that, so there was an interesting process that was price investigating.”

Her Eureka moment got here after she bought a waist trainer in Brazil, a contraption designed to limit the wearer’s midsection in a similar way to a corset that has been popularised by the Kardashians. It was made to measure, but when Vitto tried to wear it she broke a nail as she struggled to place it on.

“I needed to lie down on my bed to do it, and at that time I used to be like, ‘What am I doing, what is that this for?’,” she recalls. “It was compressing a lot of my torso, nevertheless it was making the flesh of my body come out of it on the highest and at the underside. It was made for my body, so why wasn’t it accommodating it?” 

Karoline Vitto

Armed with this query, she began to create clothes that might recreate that effect but with the aim of accentuating and making space for the wearer’s curves versus restricting and reshaping them.

Vitto’s garments incorporate cut-outs, mesh inserts, and elastic and metal details highlighting parts of the body that folks often feel more self-conscious about, akin to hips, thighs and stomachs. An easy black jersey dress might split open on one side, from armpit to knee, to disclose the wearer’s flesh criss-crossed by the sinuous metal wires that keep the garment together. Long-sleeved tops have round gaps opening across the chest, on the stomach and revealing shoulders and upper arms.

“It was never the case of just adding cut-outs because I believe the garment must be more sexy. It has a technical point,” says Vitto. “The jersey goes to stretch on one side and on the opposite side there’s going to be space, so the body can respond.”

Models wear looks from Karoline Vitto’s spring/summer 23 collection . . .
. . . which was showcased in London as a part of Fashion East, with other two emerging designers

The show is more likely to bring more attention to Vitto’s brand, and with it recent challenges. Her sales are on a pre-order or made-to-order basis, but she says the brand desires to “work directly with factories and have stock like a standard brand would”.

“One in every of the goals that we have now is to bring production to Brazil, so we will maintain the standard but reduce the value, and may focus more on designing,” she adds.

Vitto’s upcoming spring/summer collection will use recent materials and techniques akin to knitwear and denim, which were previously too expensive for the designer but have been made possible by Dolce & Gabbana’s support. The looks, in a palette of black, brown, blush pink and red, with prints for the primary time, take their cue from the Italian brand’s spring/summer 1992 collection with a Karoline Vitto twist.

The ankle-length Metal Ladder Dress, for instance, reinterprets Dolce & Gabbana’s laser-cut lace details, using thin metal bars. Other pieces will feature metal charms collected from a Brazilian street market in the form of Brazilian gods, goddesses and saints, dangling from bra straps fastening the dress together.

“Brazil is a really superstitious country — you’ll all the time have something that may protect you,” says Vitto. “With this collection I desired to bring somewhat hint of what Brazil means to me, a way of home.”

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