A supreme connection of lucid dreams and online emotions: a story featuring Ludovica wearing futuristic pieces made in Berlin by Aphro Thene. Shot by Marco Giuliano and styled by Anca Macavei at Unseen Bar, one of the most unique places in Milan.
Can you share with us an insight onto your brand.
I officially started the brand back in July 2019 and after shooting my first collection I was like „let‘s get things started!“. I did sew a few times before at art university, but since I bought my first own machine beginning of 2019, I have been sewing everyday. I‘m still learning and always trying new things, so i‘m excited what the future holds. Recently I changed my brand name. This was a process of months but I really needed a name that represents my concept more clearly (and that will not be mispronounced anymore!). With „Aphro Thene“ I think i found the perfect name to picture my post-feministic concept. The name is a fusion of the ancient greek deities Athene (who is the goddess of fight and wisdom) and Aphrodite (the goddess of beauty, love and passion) and represents the whole feminine divine as well as the different aspects of femininity. With my designs I want to fight the existing stereotypes about women that pushes them into different boxes. Women can be smart AND sexy, loving AND powerful, strong AND feminine dressing. Contrary to popular belief those qualities do not exclude each other. Since I‘m a big history and mythology fan, I was drawn to the name as soon as I came up with it. It also fits the two types of garments I make: The soft, flowing, sparkly pieces (Aphrodite) and the more black leather, warrior, fetish inspired (Athene) ones. I don‘t want to choose one of them, because both sides coexist peacefully within me.
Berlin based, fetish inspired, your motto is “futuristic fashion for hero(ine)s”. Can you tell us more abut your muses and inspirations that influence your collections?
My work is influenced by my childhood heroines who looked beautiful and wore cool outfits but were also strong/smart. Figures like Lara Croft, Tank Girl, Xena, Poison Ivy but also Miss Piggy, who kept beating up the bad boys in satin glove covered fists. Even as a child I loved about them that they were clearly feminine and sexy, but that didn‘t take away from their power. The futuristic aesthetic comes naturally to me. I don‘t know how to explain it. Maybe it‘s just my personal taste or the love for „unusual“ shapes and materials. But usually my sketches turn out to look somehow futuristic. Like outfits for futuristic action hero/ines. I have always been drawn to all weird and alienesque art (forms). But there is definitely also an influence from science fiction movies also. I‘m a movie addict and sci-fi is one of my preferred genres. Knowing how much humanhood evolved and changed over the past few centuries or even decades, always left me wondering how the world might look 500 or 1000 years from now. How I said before, the futuristic looks in those movies just fill my heart with excitement. The Matrix movies, Barbarella and the 5th Element costume designs are some of my all time favourites that influenced and inspired me. The fetish element is pretty Berlin and techno, I guess. Although I am originally from Frankfurt, this was my youth culture for so many years. At home I hardly listen to techno anymore, but I still feel so at home in the culture. Especially the Berlin typical fetish techno parties always feel like a safe haven for all the weird, extra and queer people to freely express themselves without the limits of social expectations and strict norms. But in general I‘m an imaginative person and find inspiration and new ideas everywhere, be it from nature (amazing structures and perfect problem solutions!), my colourful dreams, conversations I have, or from seeing other art. I love to try new things with unusual techniques or materials. This is my biggest passion.
You state that feminism and femininity are two of the key concepts behind your brand. How do you relate to them personally and whats your understandings of femaleness and womanhood in the contemporary context.
I came up with the term „feminsim & feminity“ during a university project back in 2016, where I made women friendly corsets. Basically it means you don‘t have to sacrifice your feminity in order to be accepted as a feminst. In politics and management positions it is daily business for women to dress basically like their male colleagues. In suits that cover up all curves and a tie in order to be taken seriously. Why is it that „girly“ or feminine looks are still associated with being less intelligent, serious or good at your job?
And why is it that in most places, women who like to show skin are being viewed as immoral/slutty, as if having a female body was something shameful and has to be hidden at all times? It is because of internalised sexism. But unfortunately not only „society“ or the patriarchy has those prejudices. I have experienced also enough women and women who called themselves feminists, who looked down on other women who liked things that are traditionally female associated, like fake nails, liking make-up or dreaming of a life as a mother. They are sometimes viewed as traitors of the feministic ideals. And this is something i relate to very personally as it is my daily experience. To me this is hypocrite, as
I understand feminism as a movement for having not only equal rights but also free choice about your own life and body. Including how you choose to dress that body. Be it covered from head to toe or showing a lot of skin it should be every woman’s personal choice to dress how it pleases her without having to justify it and without being attacked for it.
What was one of your first designs? Do you have an all favourite piece?
In general my favourite pieces are always the newest ones and especially the more extravagant ones! I am actually doing outfits for two music videos in February that I am already super excited to create. Outfits for stage and music videos I like the most, because you can – and should – go overboard and be extra. Minimalism is not exactly who I am! I switched my study focus from furniture design to textile / fashion after a few years. Moulded leather corsets as well as the white velvet dress (which was actually partly made of a water-soluble fabric I invented and that „washed away“ already) are some of my first designs in that manner and still two of my favourites. I still make moulded leather corsets and am planning to try more things in that direction. And the water-soluble fabric I just talked about will be resumed for my diploma collection this year.
What role do you think independent designers play in the future of groundbreaking style compared to that of the high-end fashion houses?
This is a good question. So I am really only „in the business“ for one and a half years now. So I have seen a few things about how the fashion industry and independent designers work at the moment and since I was not a part of it 20 years ago, so not having lived the past I think it makes it harder to predict the future. For what I have seen now it seems like independent designers and also fashion students often are the creators of new and groundbreaking ideas. Some of which later are adapted or even stolen by high-end fashion houses who of course have a much larger reach which makes it look like their own ideas to the popular opinion. There are many (mostly financial ) advantages that high-end fashion houses have compared to small, independent businesses. This includes more budget for advertising, expensive materials, access to talented and expensive experts, a larger public reach and contacts to celebrities who are a big part of advertising fashion to just name a few. But on the other hand I think leading such a well established business with not only large revenues but also immense costs, responsibilities and investors who want to see a steady growth, it limits their creativity a lot. I can imagine that to just „try a crazy idea“ and see where it leads you, happens not so regularly when every decision you make is based on sale numbers and has to be agreed on by so many people. This is an advantage that independent designers have for sure. Of course we want and need sales, too. But for me it is enough to make a good living off of it. So I will also never have to sacrifice letting my creativity and weirdness flow for the sake of that goal.
How do you feel?
Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Fashion: Aphro Thene / @aphro_thene
Location: Unseen Bar / @unseen_bar
Editorial assistant: Inga Lavarini / @ilavarini
Interview: Maylyn Bertorelli / @twiggymay
Model: Ludovica Perissinotto / @ludovicaperissinotto at @monster_badd