Italian-born Valentina Oppezzo is not your typical fashion designer or Italian woman for that matter. Veering away from traditional Italian materials like leather, Valentina prides herself on creating sustainable, vegan accessories.
“I’ve been vegetarian for a couple of years, and because of that I don’t wear leather, silk or fur. I avoid wearing items that involve killing animals. This is why, when I approached fashion designing, I decided to pay special attention to the materials I use. I don’t pick materials merely for their aesthetic. I strive to use sustainable fabrics. Sustainability in fashion is a complex matter: it involves the fibers used, the production process, the resulting amount of waist, environmental and social issues, etc. At the moment, I’m focusing on using, while possible, fibers like organic cotton, soy and hemp, which have a low impact on the environment. Sometimes I like to use recycled fabrics (like felt made from recycled bottles) or to upcycle and reuse materials myself. I’m still exploring, and learning a lot in the process.”
Though she understands that Italian leather-making is a tradition spanning generations, Valentina feels as though leather in Italy is overused and that the fashion industry in Italy could benefit from using more sustainable materials. According to Valentina, “In our current society many things are changing, and a modern sensibility is developing out of compassion and a better understanding of social dynamics and human impact on the earth. I hope to see a change of perspective in Italian fashion soon.”
A photographer by profession, Valentina came into the fashion scene by accident. She started shooting fashion and runway shows in Boston after a friend asked her to cover an event and has been involved in the local fashion world ever since.
“Because of this chance occurrence, I’ve developed a strong interest in all aspects of the fashion industry, and started writing about fashion on Bostoniano. Eventually, I felt like I wanted to create my own clothes and accessories.”
Though she had never sewn before, Valentina was determined to give it a try and enrolled at the School of Fashion Design as a part time student last year and is now learning how to make handbags. “Eventually, I want to make wearable, fun and colorful pieces for people who are not afraid to experiment with fashion.”
Her fashions recently graced the runway at Styleweek Northeast, where Valentina showed looks that were reminiscent of Tokyo street style and the Harajuku scene.
Wicked Peacock prides it’s Italian roots, particularly because Italy is and has always been an accessories hub, often setting and proliferating trends in the industry.
According to Valentina, Italians have a good eye for accessories, and wear them well. “For example, Italians ‘wear’ bags with pride, we don’t just carry them around. Italians invest in accessories because ours is a culture that values and cherishes beauty and aesthetic harmony. Since we live in towns with elegant and historical buildings, Italians feel like it’s an ‘unspoken duty’ to dress up and look effortlessly stylish. It’s a way to compliment the landscape.”
Here’s a selection from the designer, Mikinora, Japanese-born, living in Italy, whose work is featured on Wicked Peacock.