Our founder, Nadja Romain sat down with Larissa Pucci to discuss her company Foulara, a brand that brings new technology, art and craft together, creating a path for a luxury brand 3.0.
Foulara, giving Made in Italy a new impulse.
N. Larissa, how did Foulara start?
L. I committed to Foulara as a full-time project in September 2020; before then, it was something I was very passionate about, but that I kept on the side. I didn't have a master plan: I grew up in a fashion family - my grandfather is Emilio Pucci - loving to draw and paint. For me, it was very natural to start drawing on silk. Had I grown up doing glass, I would be drawing on glass instead.
As a child, I was mostly drawing on paper, but then I attended a fabric painting class at University, since then I've loved exploring different mediums, textile being the one I was most drawn to. I launched Foulara because I liked that it was ambiguous, sitting at the crossroads of several disciplines. It's not necessarily fashion, it could be either art or design.
N. How has your background informed the direction of the company?
L. To be honest, I was not sure which direction I wanted to take it: my educational background is in Information Science at Cornell University, where I was coding websites, making video games, building their graphics and creating their characters. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I could still draw, just on a different medium, with endless possibilities for creativity.
Moreover, when you grow up in Florence, immersed in the Renaissance and surrounded by Botticelli and Leonardo, you know you're never going to be as good of a painter as they were, that's why I was excited to experiment with the possibilities of a new medium: a digital canvas where nothing had been defined.
I then proceeded to work in visual effects and virtual reality, but by December 2019 I missed touching things, I missed the texture of paper, the way watercolours mixed like water, the tactility of painting. On this break, I finally had time to think about how I wanted to be creative: I decided to turn Foulara, a side hustle of mine since 2018, into a full-time project.
Now that it's been a year and a half, I have started to bring back my digital know-how to create a brand based on traditional Made in Italy artisanship with a different language. My goal is to build a bridge between traditional craft and the more modern, emerging world headlined by NFTs and the Web 3.0. What I'm after is an L.A. pop culture-inspired craftmanship.
Just as the digital landscape is massive, so are my objectives. In April I've launched a ready-to-wear small capsule collection called Foulara Remix. I'm still using the carré, but I'm sewing two together to get a dress. I will make one into a top by adding strings. In this way, the carré is remixed.
N. Mixing new technology, craft and drawing is not so common. What can the use of technology bring to you as a designer and what can it bring to the customer?
L. Technology is very quick, the only thing that it takes is my time, but it helps me in many ways: for instance, I have a digital version of the dress on my computer on which I can place my drawings to check whether they look flattering when they're worn.
Another thing I'm doing is allowing people to vote on which prints I'm releasing on Discord. For the new collection, I've had my community tell me what they like and that's been very helpful; by continuously checking with my clients, I've realized my own tastes do not necessarily match theirs. It's very interesting because I'm getting like real-life feedback on what I'm doing.
In terms of the art direction, I did a campaign in 3D earlier this year. Contrary to photography, 3D has the advantage of enabling you to literally create your own world: I put my mannequins in a Colosseum-like reference structure and had them wear the foulard in different ways. The video starts with one of these mannequins, presented as a statute covered in ivy, which slowly fades off; then the drapes in stone become coloured fabric. It's like a nymph coming alive, eventually exploding into lots of petals. Doing a photo shoot like that would be essentially impossible, but with 3D, you can explore very surreal, creative and fun ideas for marketing. In the end, technology is just another way of storytelling.
N. You're using technology both to create and do your marketing. It's quite intriguing that, as a designer, you have this direct communication with your audience. You're actively turning this relationship into a dialogue.
L. Everyone who votes on Discord has either bought a foulard or is close friend of mine. I know that the people who are voting care about me, and that's important. At the moment, this dedicated space is free-entry because I want to get people on board, but eventually I plan on restricting the access to maintain that community intact and not have loads of people who don't necessarily know or care what they want. On one hand it's cool because people comment, but on the other, it's hard to make sure that the conversation is always there to keep the community engaged. This is something I would like to become even better at managing: I'd like to talk to them even when I'm studying which products to launch.
N. So far, your inspiration has been informed by your growing up in Florence, its massive artistic heritage, daily life, food, vegetables, flowers. What’s the impact you’d like Foulara to have?
L. My manifest is: I don't want cities to become duty-frees. Travelling recently, I've found main roads all over the world to be all the same, with the same store fronts. I'd love to remind people what is getting forgotten of their own heritage. I aspire to be an example of an Italian boutique, but if I ever have a store in America or Mexico, I'd employ American or Mexican artisans. It's like when you're in Italy, you expect to get Italian products, as in vegetables and fruits too. Mine is just a lens to give a framework to Italy, or to whatever country I find myself operating in or collaborating with. In today's incredibly competitive landscape there's a tendency for big corporations to get even bigger, with local, small, amazing artisans struggling to survive. That's my long-term vision and that's what I'm trying to do with Foulara a little bit.
If you ask about my vision for the future, that'd be to do anti duty-free, but right now I'm focusing on Italy, starting from Florence, a reality that speaks to me directly. I'm trying to push for imagery that goes beyond postcards, I'm contacting artisans and working on a digital collection.
Venice, April 2022