Tell us a bit about you, your background, how did it all come about.
I’m Isabella, and I am based in Rome where I am completing my studies in Photography at the European Institute of Design. I always had an interest for sewing and for the creative arts. It was a way for me to express myself and to escape into my own reality. I was born in Perth, Australia but I grew up in a small town in Calabria, where I was surrounded by nature and old traditions that always fuelled my need of self-expression. I moved back to Australia in my early teens, and I studied Fine Art Photography in Melbourne but never completed the studies due to the pandemic, which was when I decided to materialise my passion for lingerie. I felt very disconnected with my body, and as a way of dealing with it, I decided to start sewing again. Everything I know about sewing and lingerie making is self-taught, and the time at home only allowed me to completely immerse myself in my practice. I bought some old lace and elastic from Marketplace, and I began freestyling everything. I was inspired by my heritage, the Mediterranean Sea and its mythological creatures and folk tales, to honour my roots and to interpret my sensuality into something material. I decided that this could be the beginning of everything that I always envisioned to do, something to empower both myself and the women that surrounded me. Dolce Amore interprets the female form as something precious. That is why I intend for each piece to be a piece of wearable art that celebrates beauty in all physical and abstract forms.
What is the story behind the choice of the name “Dolce Amore Intimo”?
When choosing the name for Dolce Amore, I was playing around with different words that would emanate a sensual feeling and that could entice you into knowing more. What is this ‘sweet love’? Dolce Amore is something you need to feel about yourself, it’s a celebration of your divine feminine and your true essence. It’s a love letter, reminding you that the deepest form of love comes from within. You love yourself when you feel Dolce Amore, and of course it is also all about sensuality and passion.
The lingerie design process is one of the most demanding field of fashion design, how did you end up there? Also, what does lingerie mean to you, is it an expression of body celebration and empowerment?
When I think of lingerie, I think of it as the first layer of garments that sits on your body, a visual representation of someone’s sensuality, enhancing your form and beauty. I fell in love with lingerie when I started discovering myself as a woman as I found it to be a tool that would make me empowered and confident about myself, especially on the days where I felt the opposite. Most lingerie we experience on the market is toxic and reinforces the hyper-sexualisation of clothing and of the female form. It is important that what we consume has the purpose of empowering us instead of diminishing us, celebrating without exploiting.
What kind of fabrics do you like to work with, are there any specifically you would like to explore in the next collections?
I like to work with fabrics that have specific qualities that would ensure that the pieces will withstand longevity, as they can be very delicate. The fabrics I enjoy using the most have texture, a good stretch and intricate detail. I use a lot of vintage trims and deadstock fabrics, because it allows me to always source something that not everyone may have seen already, and it is a more sustainable choice for the brand. For the future collections I would love to design my own textiles and experiment different sustainable dying processes to enhance the vintage materials I am able to source.
How important are sustainability and ethical practices to you?
To ensure that a sustainable practice is implemented into Dolce Amore, every piece is handmade to order to ensure that no stock sits in the inventory. I do not make seasonal collections or feed into trends as I want the pieces to be timeless and one of a kind. Every material is recycled, and no plastic is used in any aspect of the brand. I try my hardest to minimise all waste during production and the use of non-recyclable materials. Shopping from small and family run businesses also allows me to reduce my impact within the fashion industry, one of the biggest polluters in manufacturing.
Does your personality have similarities in any way with the current mood of your brand?
Yes, definitely! When designing the pieces, I like for them to emanate confidence, passion, and extravagance. It is a personal interpretation of the sensations that define a place, culture, or phenomenon my heritage has to offer. I see Dolce Amore as a channel to experience my feminine aspects of my personality, while my art and photography visualise my masculine side…a perfect balance!
What is most rewarding in having this brand?
The most rewarding thing about the brand is when I receive the sweetest messages from customers and from all the people that have worn Dolce Amore saying how good and empowered it made them feel. That is exactly what I strive for every time I turn the sewing machine on. It is so rewarding knowing that other people out there feel good in their own skin and the fact that Dolce Amore contributed into making their day a little shinier makes me the happiest.
Looking ahead, where do you see your brand in the future?
My vision for Dolce Amore is to keep on creating unique and timeless pieces that aim to enhance your body and beauty. I would love to expand the collections with different garments and accessories that will create an experience when wearing them together. I would also love to work with different artisans and creatives to innovate and maintain a balance between traditional and contemporary in the silhouettes and materials to expand the reach and cater to a male customer.
Tell us a secret.
When designing, I take most of my inspiration from vintage showgirls’ outfits and vintage Bollywood actresses!
Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Assistant: Veronica Ferri / @_aorta__
Model: Nasty at Wolves Management / @lilnastyyyyy @thewolvesmodel