An Interview with Blackblessed – Archive Issue II

November 28, 2014

Fashionprint magazine | by James Joseph

flor serani blackblessed
Floriana Serani founded Blackblessed, an Italy based concept-brand with an obsession for the colour black and underground cultures. The brand has quickly grown into one of the leaders of dark style, and Floriana is strongly at the helm.

We met up with Floriana in London to discuss pioneering the dark culture forwards, how Blackblessed is growing, and more importantly, the Addams Family.

Black Blessed has just been confirmed as a permanent concession in Topshop, congrats, how did that come about?

Thanks! We are all very happy for this! After just a couple of months from our online shop launch, Topshop contacted us and asked if we would have liked to take part to their in-store pop-up project involving young boutique brands from all over the world. Topshop gave us a space in a pop-up area at their UK flagship store, and in the beginning we were supposed to stay there for 3 weeks only.

The sales were good so they’ve asked us to stay for a few weeks more. At the end of this project as our sales were still good and growing, the managers asked us to become a permanent concession in their Oxford Circus flagship store. I was more than happy and of course said yes! It’s very important for a young brand to have this kind of opportunity, Topshop believes in Blackblessed and we are going to do our best to grow as a brand and with sales.

You’re probably the only Gothic routed brand with a high street concession. How does it feel bringing dark style to the masses?

This is actually my mission! When I started Blackblessed the idea of bringing dark style to the masses was my starting point. I did notice that there were not so many labels in fast fashion offering a wide range of dark-ish – all black everything designs, but the catwalks had already seen a growing number of dark-couture designs from high-fashion brands. I personally love this style and always wanted to wear these kind of clothes I thought that there might have been many people with my same wish, so I’ve decided to start my own brand to fill this gap in the market: sophisticated design, good quality fabrics, but all with an affordable price.

Just what is it about dark style that you love?

I love wearing clothes that clearly recall the dark culture world, you can make a statement, showing to the world who you are and what you like through your own style. A strong and decided attitude: This is what I am and I will not make any compromise. Black is more than a color for me, it’s a vision, people that wear this color feel blessed by a certain aesthetic, the name of my label basically comes from this idea.

With you designing and living in Rome, what is it like with the Vatican on your doorstep? Does it ever become a source for inspiration?

Religion has always been one of my main inspirations, I’m inspired by religious art and history quite a lot, especially by the Catholic religion, so I’m lucky I live in Rome! My city has the most beautiful churches in the world full of amazing paintings and decorations and all these different material textures and colors: from marble to bones to velvet and wood. I visit them quite often to get inspired by catholic and pagan symbolism, I believe it’s very easy to see this influence in my designs.

Your collections are currently solely womenswear, have you thought about transitioning into menswear?

Yes of course! I’m actually going to launch Blackblessed ‘s menswear line this month on our online shop and selected boutiques. This is a challenge for me as I’ve started working in the fashion business with menswear brands back in 2004, so I’ve always had this passion for mens clothing. We’ve already had a lot of requests both from our retail and wholesale clients for a Blackblessed men’s line, so now I feel ready to launch my own one and I’m very excited for this !

I hear you’re a B-Movie horror fan, what’s your favourite, did they ever inspire your collections?

Maila Nurmi as “Vampira ” is definitely my favorite horror movies icon I have a tattoo of her on my leg! She is thought to have inspired the vampish Morticia Addams on “The Addams Family” as originally Vampira created the vision of the iconic goth diva whilst still so elegant, a look that is at the same time scary but also very feminine: a very strong and independent woman always wearing black. Maila Nurmi’s aesthetic has also inspired one of my past collections, I still carry the most characterising piece from that season on my online shop: The ” Nurmi ” dress!

Wednesday Addams or Morticia Addams?

Even if I love Morticia as she is definitely another Goth-icon, I would pick Wednesday. The pale, dark-haired, grim-looking girl who loves death. I can see a little of myself in her character as she was an “outsider” since her childhood, never afraid of showing her personality with a sharp sense of humor and a strong look, and what’s not to love about her all time favorite outfit; the knee-length black dress, with a pointed white collar and white cuffs?!

If you had the choice, who would you crown as the Queen of Gothic?

The answer to this question would be Maila Nurmi as Vampira once again, but as I’ve already mentioned her as well as Morticia in this interview, I’m now going to pick another queen, a most recent one: Catwoman. With her latex jumpsuit and mask, she represents the sexiest side of the dark style, but also the trickiest sides of a woman that charms with her beauty but could scratch you with her nails.

Who would you rate as the top dark creators right now?

Yohji Yamamoto for his post-atomic aesthetic, Rick Owens for his deconstructed architectural creations, Ann Demeulemeester for her signature dark feminine touch. Looking at the past Elsa Schiaparelli indeed, one of most important figures in fashion between the two World Wars. Her designs were heavily influenced by the Surrealism movement, she collaborated with artists such as Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. I also did a tribute dress dedicated to Elsa Schiaparelli  inspired by one of her most famous creations the “skeleton dress”.

The AW13 collection saw symbolism representing death and the occult, do you feel symbolism is a strong part of dark style?

I believe there is a big confusion around the usage of the many goth, occult, religious symbols especially in fashion nowadays. Most of the times the use of these symbols that contemporary dark and goth oriented subcultures make, have nothing to do with their real meaning/use. For example some symbols may have been holy in some cultures, but they are twisted for their meanings and turned to evil ones. People wearing these symbols used in the wrong way want to highlight their atheism and belief in Satan or because it looks cool, I think it’s just a self-declaration of being ignorant. Before putting any symbol in my designs I always study about them first, making researches and reading books. As a roman and italian, I’ve had a Catholic education and also learned a lot about religious and Pagan symbolism in art so I try not to make these kind of cultural mistakes.

Now that you’re growing Black Blessed over Europe strongly, are there any other markets you would want to break?

We already have some retailers in USA, so in the near future we are definitely looking forward spreading our distribution over the country. Asia and Middle East are other two markets that we would like to reach with our products so currently we are working more both on the commercial and marketing sides. Opening a chain of Blackblessed concept stores all around the world with same interior design, music, mood, is maybe my biggest dream. I want to bring the Black “Blessing” all around the globe!

flor serani blackblessed