black is more than just a colour. it’s a state of mind. in fashion, black is effortless chic, inimitable edge – it’s classic but it’s of the moment. there are few brands that embody that state of mind better than flor serani’s italian label, blackblessed. a lifelong interest in fashion that started with a love of drawing and art, serani’s curiosity quickly grew into what has become one of the most interesting cult labels in rome. merchants of the weird, blackblessed is notorious for their one-of-a-kind cuts, prints, and directional use of fabrication – always emphasizing a dark, goth-tinged aesthetic and a love for uniqueness. i was lucky enough to catch up with blackblessed founder and creative director, flor serani, to talk creativity and design, the importance of instagram, and american horror story.
tell us a bit about how blackblessed got started? how has the brand grown and evolved over the years?
blackblessed is the evolution of a project i started 4 years ago, involving blogging, events and a clothing line. the project that previously had another name was still run by me as a creative director. when it all started there were not so many blogs and e-shops around, especially in Italy, so we gained the attention pretty fast. since 2010 it all has kept rolling up and growing and evolving – i still haven’t had a proper holiday since that time [laughs] ! now in 2014 i can say blackblessed is a young, self-made business with many retailers worldwide, (even a corner at topshop’s oxford circus megastore), a successful e-commerce and social media presence all ruled by a team of young talented heads between rome, milan and london.
so has the experience been everything you’ve hoped it would be? if you had the chance to go back and do something differently, would you?
if i had the chance to go back i would do everything i did for a second time, as it ended up that even the mistakes or some questionable decisions i took helped me to become what i am and what i have now. no regrets at all !
that’s good to hear! so, i love your instagram, it’s one of my favourite accounts! the imagery is so on-point with my life!
thanks!! our instagram account it’s my baby! i personally post on it every day, 5 to 8 pictures at least.
as someone who runs an instagram account for another online retailer, i can’t even imagine how you have time to post so often. that’s impressive!
it’s a big effort to keep it always updated and fresh, especially when i’m out on business trips – which happens quite often – but i won’t stop! it’s a window on my mind and on blackblessed’s, i think it’s important to share something personal and intimate sometimes. it makes everything real.
the concept of “church” or “faith” in fashion is something that came to a head a couple years ago, especially when labels like givenchy started using religious iconography. why was this something you chose to focus on with your own brand?
because i’m from rome! i grew up between the most beautiful churches in the world, plus i had a catholic education. religious symbolism, especially catholic ones have always inspired me, so i guess in my case it’s not a trend or a phase.
blackblessed is one of the few labels that i think does “church” well.
i think the religious iconography has been a bit overused lately. i try to avoid certain kinds of images or symbols, but as my city and culture have so many interesting references i can totally keep the “inspiration” focusing on different points!
the bb mission is to brand a “black blessing on every fashion faithful’s pretty forehead.” what does that mean exactly?
i believe that people that choose to wear mostly or totally black outfits choose to embrace a certain aesthetic that makes them feel like part of a cult. blackblessed is dedicated to these people who feel blessed by black colour and believe in this aesthetic as a life philosophy. i like to think about myself as a priestess of this cult!
i’m all about all black everything. if a black blessing took the form of a prayer or a hymn, what would that sound like?
many artists, poets and designers talked about the absolute conceptual beauty of color black, making statements and somehow “prayers” for the cult of black. one of my favourites is yohji yamamoto’s “black is modest and arrogant at the same time. black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. but above all black says this: ‘i don’t bother you – don’t bother me.'” and renoir’s “i’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors was black.” as for a hymn? anything siouxsie sioux or the cure.
that yohji quote is one of my favourites too! who is the black blessed girl or woman? does she take after you? and if she were a real person, what kind of music would she listen to?
the blackblessed girl is a strong and decided young woman with a penchant for a dark imagery, culture and music. she’s interested in religion, magic, alchemy and horror movies. our ideal woman is not strictly “dark” in the classic way, though. she could also be a girl with an urban look listening to the darker side of hip hop music, like A$AP rocky or tyler the creator. or she could just be wearing our clothes with black nikes on her feet [laughs]!
let’s talk about the latest season. i’m in love with all of the graphic shapes and strange silhouettes that seem to be a staple of the blackblessed name. can you tell me a bit about your design ethos?
blackblessed collections always reflect my personality so they go from very feminine styles with asymmetric cuts and sheer fabrics for a dark-diva-witchy look, to oversized hoodies with leather panels and zippers, esoteric prints leggings and maxi college coats to satisfy my street-goth-urban side. and of course everything always total black! actually in the last years i’ve introduced some more colors like burgundy, grey, and some total white looks as I believe that total white could be as dark as total black.
like the all-white collab with ivania carpio from love aesthetics, which i found to be equally as edgy as all black.
exactly. i never design anything that i won’t wear myself. i would define my creations as city designs with a touch of black magic!
what about your creative process? what kinds of things are necessary for you to keep your creativity up?
travelling is necessary for me, looking at the people in the streets in the different countries from europe to asia inspire me so much all the time. i get so many ideas and hints for my designs from the street styles I see. books and movies are also an important source for me. for the last winter collection i found a lot of interesting symbols from a book about russian tattoo symbology. a couple of years ago, my collection was inspired by maila nurmi, a horror movie icon from the fifties.
speaking of which, i’ve also noticed you’re a fan of american horror story: coven!
i’m a super fan of american horror story!! this season with coven has been the best in my opinion. i loved everything – the plot, the costumes, the characters, the quotes. just one thing i did not like: it has already finished! it should have lasted longer!
would you say you’re the supreme of your coven?
yes, i’m definitely the supreme of my coven. i’m looking for the next one so to all the young witches out there, keep studying to pass the 7 wonders test [laughs]!