Ukranian by birth but Italian by adoption, Svetlana Taccori developed a passion for making dresses for her dolls from a young age. Heavily influenced by her family of knitting fanatics, she decided to use the pieces in her closet as the basis for setting up her own knitwear label, and Tak.Ori was born. Her debut collection of knitwear has already been snapped up by Browns, Colette and ModaOperandi, and her AW14 collection will be available from Net-A-Porter and Matchesfashion.com
With knits on the horizon as a key winter trend, Twin chats to Svetlana to find out more about recasting fashion’s idea of the traditional woollen jumper.
What kicked off your love for wool?
I grew up in a cold country so I know the challenges of being well dressed and warm. Knitted items were always in my wardrobe and from a very early age I developed a passion for the softness, the volume and the warmth that comes from it so I suppose I’ve always had a love affair with wool even if I was unaware of it.
What is your favourite kind of wool?
I love merino and cashmere for their softness but in general I like experimenting and mixing the different types of wool. I’m constantly trying out new techniques, which will allow me to mix different wool fibres and colours together to create pieces which are easy to wear and that don’t react badly when washed.
Do you know how to knit? What kind of techniques do you use and which are your favourites?
I grew up in a household of knitting fanatics! I was eight when I had my first knitting classes and that’s when I learned how to turn a heel and make mini socks on five needles. I prefer to knit smooth surfaces using different colours as though I am painting on a canvas. In fact, I would have loved to be an artist and that’s partially due to how much art and literature combined to influence me while I was growing up, but my career path always seemed as though it would involve a needle and yarn. My love for fashion won out in the end!
Many people regard wool as quite casual and traditional – how would you dress it up?
I agree, knitwear was traditionally considered casualwear and at the beginning of the last century, it ended up in our closets because it was comfortable and cozy, making it a redundant textile in high fashion. But that’s an outdated concept for me. Wool is sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly, it’s also one of the most versatile yarns out there and it needs to be celebrated. I want to show that high fashion can be both beautiful and comfortable. I want to use its wholesome and pure image but add a rebellious and seductive element that’s both elegant and fun. In a way, I want to revolutionise the fashion knitwear scene and this is my way of rewriting the story of wool by showing that even an evening dresses can be knitted and look amazing. Wool pieces give you a freedom of movement that you don’t always get with other fabrics.
Who are your style icons?
I’m inspired by a bygone era of bold, outrageous women. Women who were intelligent, bright, charming and eccentric, yet elegant and chic at the same time. No doubt this is because we don’t really know them personally, and don’t see them in everyday situations which means they can’t disappoint. Today we seem to live in a society that favours exhibitionism over substance – I call it the Herostratus effect! My AW14 collection is influenced by the Marchesa Luisa Casati. She had a strong personality, she was charming, shocking and had a certain je ne sais quoi that made her the most fascinating and fashionable woman in Europe at the turn of the 20th century. I also love Nan Kempner. Her style is timeless but also very appropriate for today.
Where did you learn your craft? Have you worked with other designers?
At thirteen my grandfather gave me a sewing machine for my birthday. My parents had mentioned to him in passing that I was hand-sewing dresses for dolls. Every time I was given a doll, actually, the first thing I would do was to rip the clothes it came in off and make new outfits for them. So when I received my sewing machine there was no stopping me, and I moved on from making clothes for dolls to making clothes for my mum, sisters and school friends.
What prompted you to start your own label?
I’ve spent the past 15 years working in the fashion business for some of the most well-known luxury brands in the world, but I always felt it was inevitable that one day I would set-up my own label. Since my teens, I’ve been collecting hats and scarves everywhere I go (I have over a hundred hats and seventy scarves). It was after a trip to Cortina that I finally found the courage and felt that the time was right to go and do my own thing.
What inspired your SS15 collection?
As I mentioned earlier, knitwear and jersey came into our lives and into our closets in the 1920′s and this was a time of major change for women. I am intrigued by the way the suffragettes used their clothing as placards to fight for the vote. I wanted to dedicate my collection to that era and I wanted to celebrate and thank those women who made the freedoms many women enjoy today possible. These women were bold and, if you like, revolutionaries. So for my spring summer 2015 collection I wanted to create a modern interpretation of their strength and femininity as well as a contemporary view of the clothing worn by them. By using knit and jersey, which at the time were considered second-class fabrics and used solely for underwear and sports clothing, I feel it embodies the spirit of the suffragettes.
Are you influenced by your dual nationality?
I think we’re all influenced by our environment but our childhoods no doubt have the strongest influence. I can honestly say I feel very comfortable wherever I am. I love exploring the traditions and history of all the countries I visit – I will read the literature, listen to the local music, visit the art galleries, watch the movies, look at the colours and talk to as many people, young and old, as I can. I feel this willingness to learn helps to influence me in creating collections that appeal to people from different countries and continents. Of course it’s inevitable that I am also influenced by my Ukrainian roots and Italian adoption and, although I don’t rely on these elements for direction, I think you can see the bold, vibrant but traditional Ukrainian fused with the well cut, urban Italian chic in my designs, but luckily I’m a fan of dualities.
What can we expect from you in the next year?
I don’t know what to expect from myself! My main objective will be to continue to create contemporary, luxurious and innovative garments, and my fascination with fabric and wool technology knows no bounds. My fascination with experimentation helps push me creatively, especially during our spring summer collections as I have to focus on delivering wearable and interesting luxury pieces that are breathable and comfortable. We have big plans though and, I definitely want to improve my English!