I think I learned to wield scissors and needle before having learned to write.

Drawing has always been a language I used to express mysel without fear of judgement

Barbara Fontana Ozawa was born between fabrics, scissors and needles. She tells us: “I don’t remember a time when, from my early childhood, there wasn’t some piece of clothing at run time, on our table.  My grandmothers were both seamstresses.

One, in particular, my paternal grandmother, had studied in Turin, in the 30s, when the Milan fashion system didn’t exist yet and the Turin’s aristocracy was still dictating the lines of style and elegance. It was a fashion tailored to the customer and developed with the customer. The materials, coming from Biella wool mills, Como silk mills and Lombardy cotton mills, were exceptional and the cloths finishing, despite the poor machinery, were perfect. That “hand-made”, that taste of craftsmanship that has always characterized the Italian “know how”.

A  talent inherent in our DNA that we must try, in every way, to protect and revive. My grandmother performed complicated embroideries with a skill and speed that I no longer seen. She was used to do the knitwear while was watching television and always, from her hands, light incredibly stylish laces or heavy sports sweaters for men, with complex points and perfect diminutions, came out like magic. She manufactured men’s shirts, with slats in the collar, in a very short time. I remember the white shirts ironed with an iron without steam. She was used to pass a particular salt, on the basis of the iron, to prevent the plate becoming yellow and ruin the fabric whiteness.

I was fascinated by that extraordinary ability to create. I think I begun to manipulate needle and scissors at the age of six. I also liked very much learning and inventing new knitting and crochet points. With my maternal grandmother, we manufactured beautiful clothes for dolls. Also in the drawing, my interest has always been captured by the human figure, since I was a child.

At the high school, I started collecting the magazine LEI. I liked the artistic quality of the images. The first time I saw “Dolce & Gabbana”, “Byblos” and all the others big of that time. I covered all my school books with the pages of the magazine LEI, so, even the most boring school subjects, became a bit more sympathetic.  I began to pack my clothes by myself, using the wonderful fabrics of our territory and inspired by the images of trendy magazines. When my daughters were born, (I was very young) I put all my creativity in making clothes for them. From sweatshirts to formal wear, until the carnival clothes that always got huge success.

With their paternal grandmother, we made wonderful handmade knitwear and also knitwear made with Brother’s and Toyota’s looms. I liked creating some inlay designs and embroidering them by hand to create three-dimensional effects. My daughters were always dressed up as small models. At that time, I decided to enter a fashion school. In my first year, I drew already as students of the fifth year. From there on, my career began, almost by accident.  Alongside great professionals, in very important companies, always with great humility, I was able to work and learn in almost all sectors; from outerwear to knitwear, leather and fur, till the accessories.

I often worked for the theater and dance that I love. I also created a high tech clothing line for dance and sports with artistic component. The passion and curiosity for the materials, the product, the well-made object (item of clothing or accessory that is), always helped me to understand how to use a material at the best of its aesthetic and of its functional possibilities. Today, curiosity leads me to experience, in collaboration with young designers, engineers and artists, the new frontiers of IT, applied to the design and fashion, with its virtual expressions of great potential, both in design and in marketing.

My philosophy is founded on principles of the Japanese culture that perfectly describe as well the creative Italian genius: Satori, a kind of enlightenment that comes from the concentration that arises in the work that you are doing and Kaizen, the principle of continuous improvement. My constant password is ETHICS, without which, in my opinion, the civilization and the world itself can’t last and have a future.

Let me conclude with two quotations which I fully support. I find that the one by Brooke McEldowney fits perfectly also life in general, which is the greatest work of art! Consequently, the one by Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, which I find absolutely brilliant!

I suppose no matter what I’m drawing, there will always be some sort of question in my mind about it. A work of art(even cartoon art) is never really finished; it is abandoned.

Brooke McEldowney

Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec