There is nothing quite as exhilarating and gratifying as watching the trajectory of a new brand rising from the dust! Take that scenario and add that the brand was conceived, designed and came to life under the hand of someone you call a dear friend and you have a recipe for sheer and utter excitement, anticipation and admiration. The friend is Sabato Russo and his brand is Sartorial Monk; what started as solely a men’s collection has morphed into womenswear as well and now the path has been set and the journey has begun. With barely more than a year of history, Sartorial Monk is now available on an international stage with endless growth potential.
Signor Russo has a message from his heart and soul with each collection but he has a fashion message as well which cannot be confused with what would be considered trendy. He offers collections that are unique and classic in their own way but aimed at those who march to the beat of a different drum when it comes to how they present themselves. These acolytes are not of the sheep variety, they do not follow… they lead! In life we make a choice just as in fashion… we are part of the flock or we take a stand and stand apart from the pack… Sartorial Monk is for those who wish to stand out albeit without a spotlight shining on them. Please take note that by standing out, I mean to say not in a fashion freakish trendoid way but in a way that people take notice of you without being a subject of derision.
Enough from me and now you can “hear” what the designer has to say and then have a look at how he says it.
Jeffrey Felner: Can you give us a brief history of your career?
Sabato Russo: I was born and raised in the town of Foggia in the south of Italy, the Puglia region to be exact. After high school I left home to continue my education at which point I moved to Florence and Milan to attend university for architecture. It was in Milan that I met several fashion designers and started a new career as a fashion model. I walked the runways in Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo and suddenly the world opened up and offered me exposure to what I never experienced. Japan was most fascinating for me with its history, culture and sensibility which completely captured me while realizing that fashion was and is my passion. While on this life journey I started a new chapter of my life by accepting a position as an assistant designer with Issey Miyake. All was clear to me, fashion designing was my passion and with my newly formed family I moved to New York from Paris where my next career was born; it was there that I formed very prestigious relationships under my new eponymous brand. My retail and professional partners included local and international companies such as Barneys, Kashiyama, Gianfranco Ferre, Fendi and more. Today my career and life include shuttling between Milan, Paris, NYC and Puglia while concentrating on my new project/brand …. “Sartorial Monk” which is all made in Italy for both men and women…
JF: What is your inspiration when it comes to design? The brand name? Your sartorial message?
SR: The brand name is Sartorial Monk is an esthetic… a sophistication; my soul, my emotions run deeper and deeper. Sartorial Monk is the convergence of southern Italian sartorial traditions combined with Far Eastern purism and fluidity. Sartorial Monk is the soulful imprint of masculine/feminine elegance; the freedom of deconstructed shoulders over voluminous pants, archetypal fabrics for avant-garde shapes, and perfection without restrictions. The collection is composed of the most luxurious Italian fabrics and combined with the sartorial southern Italian mindset of how to create a visual and emotional journey through my designs. Whether day or night, black or white, joy or pain, these are the weights utilized on my personal scale when balancing and transforming the negative into positive. Minimalism and sensuality marry in order to transform an emotion into a garment. Sartorial Monk is the unique reimagining of the classics.
“Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.”
JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?
SR: Definitely Jalal al-Din Rumi the Persian philosopher, he wrote the essential in the 1200, he is my bible. Paulo Coelho de Souza, the lyricist and novelist, as I would love to hear his thoughts about the laws of attraction and quantum physics. Zaha Hadid I admire her feminine architecture, it is like poetry, the queen of forms and shapes, fantastic mixture. Marco Mengoni the Italian singer and poet, I love everything about him, voice, looks and image. Theo Parrish is my favorite musician and selector a true ‘techno/house’ artist.
JF: If you could choose any collaboration what would it be and with whom and why?
SR: I would love to build a resort on the beach of a tropical island and work with the local people using eco sustainable materials while creating a place for mind and body.
JF: Could you speak a little about how you see fashion at the moment and what would you like to see change?
SR: Fashion for me is the conveyance and translation of my emotions into a life style that sits
outside the schemes and routines of the fashion business. It is a journey into myself, the more I transform the more I perceive beauty from inside out. The important thing is how I perceive the outside world and not only from an esthetic point of view.