Five Things I Learned from Massimo Osti
When I was asked to write a few words on Massimo Osti, I was honestly in half a mind as to whether to accept. This is mostly due to the huge respect I have for the man himself and for what he represents. I have always been a great fan of his work but I have never liked it when people would associate their own names to his, in an attempt to gain exposure and commercial success. In the end, I decided I would write a few words from the “fan’s” point of view.
It all started a long time ago, I remember being a young “paninaro” in the 80s and seeing these beautiful jackets around town, most of which were way out of my price range, sadly. What I also clearly remember is that they looked special and different. Bologna in the 80s was really a great place where to grow up and one could feel blessed about living here. Somehow, I think I can understand why Massimo Osti never wanted to leave Bologna and move to Milan to “make it big”. Besides remaining close to his roots, I also believe that the reason behind that could be that Bologna, and the area surrounding it, has always been a “Product” land, a place for manufacture, a very inspiring place where excellent craftsmanship and the desire to create beautiful things is an inherent part of its heritage.
Like many others, I have learned to love and admire Massimo through his work and that has eventually brought me to lionise him – as a designer but also as an individual. It is safe to say that I would not be doing what I am doing now, if it wasn’t for Massimo Osti. There are a few rules that have been guiding me through these years and that I feel I have somehow taken from Massimo Osti, almost dogmatically. These “dogmas” are all very much connected to each other and are the foundations of the way I approach my work.
Love the Product
I believe it all starts from here. You need to be totally dedicated to what you do and genuinely love the product. There is no other way. Although one’s love and understanding of the product can be developed through time and experience, I don’t think one can really learn to love the product, I believe this must be something innate.
Anyone Can Design
You can be a designer through your love and dedication for the product. A background in fashion design is not strictly necessary, your passion will drive you. Look for inspiration everywhere. It is all out there.
Always Try to Innovate
Things have dramatically changed recently and the capability to experiment, in a country like Italy, has become often too expensive. However, it is still vital that a sense of curiosity and the will to innovate must be kept at the centre of one’s work. Innovation is the key to make your project different from the rest, and I mean it not only in terms of product, but also in the way you approach the market and the way you communicate it.
Limitations are Not Always a Limit
Limited resources and other focal issues, like minimum quantities from suppliers should not be seen as something that will prevent getting a good work done but, rather, as a positive challenge. Very often, the best results come from being under pressure, and sometimes the best results might originally have been mistakes.
And finally, what I feel is the most important credo of them all:
Put Your Soul in What You Do
Believe in what you do and put your heart into it – other people will feel it. A jacket is, after all, a very personal object and it tells many things not only about the person who designed it but also about the person who wears it.
I have been fortunate enough to visit the Massimo Osti archive many times over the years (thanks as always to Lorenzo Osti) and that is what has always struck me. One can literally feel the passion emanating from the garments. Massimo Osti’s creations are unique in that way, it is almost as they were “alive”, just like he had put a little piece of his soul into each of them.
Bologna, June 2016
Photo: Gianni Mazzotta