“The most important approach is the body; from the body the collections are born,” says Andrea Adamo, speaking with pride about the seductive clothes he creates at his namesake label. The brand, Andreādamo, manifested in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdowns, where in Italy the restrictions were severe and the usual rompings, non-existent. At first, he looked for freelance work, only to be met with rejections and cold replies because “the future was a mystery” and brands were wary of committing to much of anything. But the Italian native still bore the need to express himself creatively, so he declared, “Let’s pivot the energy I put into other brands into something of my own.”
With what felt like limitless time to reflect on his professional experiences – working alongside Elisabetta Franchi for nearly five years, then cutting his teeth at Roberto Cavalli, Zuhair Murad, eventually becoming the head designer for celebrities and special projects at Dolce & Gabbana, and in 2018, working with Ingie Paris – Adamo was able to decide upon his particularly empowering niche. He also delved into the experiences of the wider world – in particular, the Black Lives Matter movement that erupted during the pandemic. “I think it’s very important for a new generation of artists and designers to express our current situations. I’m sad that still, in 2020 and 2023, people need to think about the colour of skin, or if you are gay or fat. Like who cares? Love is love and you should express yourself no matter what,” he professes. So Adamo asserted to deliver his message “strong and clear”, pushing the notion that “nude is universal.”
The Black and brown-skin nudes that he creates aren’t referred to commercially as “nude”, but rather, just as “brown”, and Adamo wants to change this: to challenge fashion’s dialogue around race and complexion. “It’s not about the ‘normal’ nude – that’s a racist mentality,” he explains. “For me, nude is brown, and for some reason that’s complicated for everyone from suppliers to distributors. They’ll say, ‘Oh that’s not nude, it’s rust.’ But for Black people, for example, that is nude and it’s sad that people don’t see it as that.”
He speaks then about Ingrid Silva, a Brazilian classical dancer working in New York who “had to dip dye [or even hand paint] her ballet shoes with makeup to get them to be the ‘right’ colour”, – a ‘Preto’ nude rather than the traditional ballerina blush pink and the only available shade she could buy. Her frankly unexceptional experience is what inspired Andreādamo’s sartorial exploration of pigmentation. “Since the beginning, the core of my brand has been to develop every different shade of nude that there is.”
At the time of our conversation, Adamo was just applying the final touches to his ultra-sexy AW23 ready-to-wear collection, which was set to show in about three and a half weeks time. It was a grown-up range rooted in his personal story of tenacity, called Downtown 84, and a tribute to Crotone, the Italian seaside town where Adamo was born. His signature ribbed knitwear, denim, leather and mesh materials synthesised as asymmetric second-skin vestures. Slinky materials were juxtaposed by sturdy ones and experimental silhouettes flaunted a seamless approach to jersey fabrications: “It was a fusion of body and skin,” he says. The cracks in the clay hills of Crotone became a cunning jacquard motif of black and white knitwear, crackled leather twinsets and mottled catsuits. The sporadic pops of Mariacarla yellows were named for Adamo’s grandmother, a craftswoman who loved sunflowers. She was actually a seamstress, a savvy woman who for the better part of Adamo adolescence raised him, and she was the one to first introduce the youngin to the wonderful world of making clothes. “She taught me how to pin down the pattern to fabric and to cut it,” he recalls. “I really loved her courage to create something unconventional for the place we were living. It’s very hard to go out wearing something sexy [in Crotone], but she made these really cool, atypical dresses.”
Adamo was always a bit of an insomniac, even as a child, and at the times when he couldn’t find the serenity of sleep he would waste the evening hours watching glamour-gilded Versace shows on the telly. “I fell in love and it became my dream [to design],” with the added excellency of his matriarch’s teachings.
Aside from his heritage, Adamo is often inspired by the people that surround him – friends and strangers alike: “I love to go around my city sometimes and look at people working; the real people of the world, not just the ‘It girls’, but the small communities.” The It girls in question being Doja Cat, Julia Fox, Nicola Anne Peltz Beckham, Dua Lipa, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Miley Cyrus, and Anitta – all tried-and-true fans of the Andreādamo label. Otherwise, Adamo seeks inspiration on social media – Instagram in particular – from cinema and from travel: “New people, new cultures, new friends and understanding what people are thinking is very important for me. [So is] discovering new places, people with character and going deep into their respective cultures.”
Andreādamo SS23 campaign photography by Drew Vickers
His SS23 collection, for instance, was inspired by his first visit to a surf beach in Lanzarote. “It was insane! Every five minutes you travel in the car you are in a new landscape. I cannot even describe it; it’s like you are on Mars!” he exclaims. “There is a village [in Lanzarote] where everyone is naked, even in the supermarkets. There is loads of art and sculpture around the island and there are little holes in the street that are created by the wind; it’s really beautiful. It’s a whole other world with something new to discover all the time.” The accompanying campaign, inspired by the sensual language of the body, coalesces Adamo’s aesthetic identity. “There isn’t a logo; we want our work to be recognisable with a visual language.” The Andreādamo woman is simply herself.
Photography courtesy of Andreādamo.