"It is only through dreams and imagination that I have been able to capture and invent life my way." aleXsandro Palombo
Guest Contribution by Anna Foskolou
When words fail, and they usually do, one has got to turn to other forms of expression that speak volumes without uttering a single one of them. aleXsandro Palombo strongly believes that pictures say more than a thousand words, and a single glance at his work is all it takes to see why. Palombo is an ARTIST in all forms, definitions, notions… you name it. He finds ways to transpire the truth that extend far beyond triteness, and somehow manages to retain, if not magnify, his humoristic and graciously sarcastic view towards absolutely everything. He is an illustrator and a fashion designer, while he shuns all kinds of titles except, maybe, the “Surrealist Realist” one. He also admits bluntly that he dreams of being acknowledged as the father of fashion satire. This man, the artist who open-handedly shares a part of his soul, wit and dreams on a daily basis with the viewers of his highly successful blog Humor Chic, kindly accepted our invitation to take the Yatzer-plunge and grace its “pages” with his ingenious answers to our, quite, straight-forward questions. The results are not for the faint of heart!
What is the allure of Fashion? Were you drawn to it from the beginning?
Was it your “siren call”?
It was an appeal to the pure imagination which I applied to life. To me fashion is a means, one of the many possible.
Fashion designer, illustrator, fashion-focused artist, author… So many titles…
But what are you really?
A surrealist realist, a man who pursues dreams to bring them to reality.
Your “VANITAS, INSHALLAH” was dubbed as the first catwalk book ever, while “Knit atelier no season” as the first haute couture collection in the knitwear field. Do you consider yourself a pioneer?
I am a pioneer! Do I strike you as sufficiently modest? But the thing I care most about is being the father of fashion satire. My illustrations have the capacity to lay it bare, they say more than a thousand words.
Your second book, “Humour Chic”, will be released in 2010. Could you describe it for us?
It will bring together the most interesting illustrations that I publish every day on the blog Humor Chic as well as a series of unpublished works and some exclusive mini chic stories on some personalities I care for greatly, like Barack and Michelle Obama. I’m a great supporter of theirs. Humor Chic is the world’s first Daily Society Portrait blog. It was created as a place of entertainment and criticism about fashion, culture, society, manners and celebrities, an original and illustrated point of view. It is an excellent therapeutic medium for detoxing ourselves from the daily routine. The fact of investigating and revealing society through intelligent and funny illustrations is much appreciated by people who are now tired of the spreading slovenliness. My wish is to make the book Humor Chic an annual event.
Which brings us to your brilliant story “Karl’s Journey”. Though many would welcome the idea of Karl Lagerfeld being an alien, I believe that this is not an adequate interpretation of your symbolism.
You are wonderfully lucid and intelligent. Yes it’s not actually the interpretation of the story. It’s fun to see the thousands of different interpretations that are given of it. Naturally I can never reveal mine but I respect them all.
Dreams and reality, innovation and tradition. Your work is an impressive array of contradictions. Would you like to tell us more about the poetic world you have created?
The greyer reality becomes, the more brightly the dream revives. The more you know about the tradition the more innovation you will produce. My poetry is my life itself, my daily chores, my family and my dearest affections. My personality and the genuineness that has always distinguished me and for which I have always paid a heavy price, and still do … But in return I have my freedom. I am not politically correct and I can’t stand compromise, shitheads, or the stupidly ignorant.
Memorable features of your collections are the images of Padre Pio and Mother Teresa, as well as the famous XP symbol (Pax Christi). What is the role of religion in your life?
For me religion means above all respect, multiculturalism, exchange, integration, dialogue, everything that today does not exist in Italy because it is a “mafioso” and boorish country. Even in the world these values are tottering. There are too many powers compromised with vested interests and until people are more lucid it will be difficult to progress.
Though many claim the title, only one can acquire it.
In your opinion, which is the Fashion Bible?
There are numerous excellent manuals of style but no Bible. For centuries there has been only one Holy Bible. Unfortunately in fashion there is an infectious disease called “power and egomania” which leads a series of terribly tedious and wonderfully useless people to fire off garbage from morning to night. At any rate, apart from these picturesque figures today, fashion, proper fashion, is paying a very high price because it has given space to too many individuals without any talent who have done a great deal of damage to the detriment of the many true talents and good professionals. It’s a bit like the theatre. If people get on through nepotism, compromises and favouritism, then it’s difficult to put on a good show. You always have to walk keeping your head on your shoulders and your feet on the ground, because apart from being safer you won’t risk losing your bearings.
In 1998 you decided to launch your own designer label “aleXsandro Palombo”. How hard was it to develop business savvy and deal with the mundane aspect of your art?
When you do things with passion so somehow they belong to us, they’re a natural extension of us. So if there are difficulties we’ll get over them. The biggest obstacles? The lobbies are a social and cultural cancer, a baneful system. When it recognizes a real, major talent begins to boycott it out of fear. When they come and tell you you’re doing the wrong kind of things and you’d better quit, then it means you’re on the right track!
Are your illustrations a product of careful planning or are they created on the spur of the moment? Do you have a specific working process?
Good grief! The word “planning” belongs to important people. The word alone terrifies me. I’m a bit simpler. I take a nice white sheet of paper, put pencil to it and begin to draw and then I colour it. What I did in childhood I still do, but I avoid getting my clothes in a mess.
What inspires you?
My fervid imagination. Finding my ways through the maze is certainly not easy. It’s a continuous risk between snares and dangers that crop up on all sides. I only have one rule that I’ve followed for years. “Carefully shun all sterile worldliness,” otherwise you risk lowering your immune defences.
What are your dreams for the future?
To continue to invent my life in my own way.