Queen Elisabetta

"Sensuality is always in fashion"

She fights for animals and the environment, she adores women, and she creates clothes that celebrate femininity. We met Italian fashion designer Elisabetta Franchi and had a very interesting conversation.

By Maria Patouha

She arrives at the interview glowing and in good spirits, with a casual sex-appeal that is both transfixing and charming. Famous Italian fashion designer Elisabetta Franchi is in Athens for the occasion of the opening of her first Shop-in-Shop within the Eponymo store at Golden Hall. We begin our talk with a sunny sky and blue sea as our background, speaking about the Spring/ Summer 2018 season. Dressed in lace skirts, elegant hats, tulle and see-through fabrics, women look like they are about to run free in the American fields in the 19th century. Their femininity is abundant, but not provocative. "Femininity is a great gift for a woman, but also a great tool, if used correctly. You are born with it, it is not an element you gain along the way, or one that a piece of clothing can give you. You can be wearing an apron doing chores, and still be feminine. Even when annoyed or angry, a woman must be feminine," says Franchi, and continues saying that "Another characteristic of the female personality which will never be out of fashion is her sensuality". The is exactly how she wants women to feel when wearing her creations: sensual. She wants her clothes to be absolutely feminine, which is the reason many women write to her to tell her that she makes them feel like princesses.

In her previous collections she has celebrated personalities like Evita Peron and Monica Vitti. She says she is inspired by women who dare, who try and achieve their goals, who are center-stage, not hiding backstage. "Evita Peron, for example, did not stand behind the President. She stood next to him, and in many ways, surpassed him. She achieved greatness. Monica Vitti, on the other hand, a very beautiful woman, never acted like a diva. She had self-sarcasm," she says.

In the Fall/ Winter 2018-19 runways she expressed her interest in animals once again. "I have fought many battles on that front. The first thing I did was to allow my employees to bring their pets to work. I worked together with many organizations for animal protection, and learned a great deal. In the beginning, I used angora, because I did not exactly know how they skin the animals. But when I realized what is happening, I decided that everything in my collection would be eco-friendly". She was the first fashion designer in Italy to decide not to use any animal products, and other major fashion Houses soon followed. "We, the people of fashion, have a big responsibility in this matter, because we lead and inspire people", she tells us.

In regards to fashion's contribution to the current feminist movement, she believes it is merely happening just as a way to make an impression. "What is important to keep in mind is that women have made important steps, without of course forgetting the anachronistic practices still going on in countries like India, or even in small villages in Italy", she points out. But she also pays attention to another type of discrimination that is happening during our time. "There are two doors for women. One is that of duty. Whatever you look like -pretty or not- you open this door and you perform your duties. The other is the easy one. You've got good looks, so you open that door and tread differently. And this is dangerous. Women like us, who love our work, must work twice as hard in order to overcome this obstacle," she summizes.

She adds that one of her favorite films is The Great Gatsby, with Leonardo di Caprio. So what is her own "green light"? Her own point of reference? "Waking up every morning and smiling. Feeling strong, happy, optimistic. My love for life. Life is not easy. It demands tiredness, faith, sacrifice, and at the same time you need to always have a purpose, a goal. I knew since I was very little what I wanted to do. I had a doll and I made clothes for her", she says, smiling. This way, she gives us the best explanation for her success.