Guest Wardrobe n° 8 : Umbe San

Umbe is a fashion designer. He loves London and finger food.
He can prepare delicious appetizers and make you talk for hours.
He hates cats powder and the phobics.
Read my conversation with him also on Dossier:


What do you do?

I work as a fashion designer and graphic designer for a knitwear and ready-to-wear company [Ballantyne] in Milan.

When did you start this career?

I started 3 years ago, after finishing the university, and some experiences in fashion.

What does inspire you?

I’m a curious person. I find inspiration in everything, basically in simple and new things. I let myself go with the moment. I trust in emotions to feel really inspired. I believe in “case studies,” like Plato taught us, that we need to discover the emotions that we have inside, but usually disregard.

A model to follow?

I really love Greek philosophers. Their point of view is so modern and deep at the same time. If I had to choose a life model, I would look to wildlife, close to air and water, which are my elements.

A guide?

Historical periods like the ’20s, ’50s and ’80s, and all the icons of this century. For literature, I love Scapigliatura, the bohemian rebellion period in the ‘800s, so intellectual and cursed.

What's the first thing you do in the morning?

A massive cup of jasmine tea prepared with my cast-iron japanese teapot.

3 desires for the genie?

New house, a true love story, take a plane once a month.



How do you see yoursel in 5 years?

Scary question! I’m a little bit scared about the future and long term plans, but I’m ready for change. I prefer not to think too much how I will be in many years. Nevertheless, I love dreaming about it while I’m living the present.

What's your next project?

While I'll work at my own collection, I would like to enjoy new experiences. Right now I'm gathering ideas for my new creations, but I think I'll keep collaborating with some designers.

The excellence fashion maison?

YSL is amazing. It’s one of my favorite brands: contemporary and avant-garde, so feminine, but never vulgar. I also love Dries Van Noten, for his shapes, his colors and his really awesome prints.

You worked in the Emirates for a while. Can you describe this experience?

It was a great experience. I worked for the Sheikh, designing garments for the women of the family. It was, for sure, very strange to mix the Italian taste with theirs. Ours is naturally simpler, while theirs is really colorful, rich in embroidery and shiny fabrics. It was really interesting working in a couture tailoring way. I compared my skills with many different people from other countries, like the tailors and the Indian embroiderers, persons with an amazing capability and technique. I learned a lot.

How was your typical day there?

I used to wake up at 9am. After breakfast, I waited for my driver to pick me up from my flat in the city and take me to the palace in the desert. Until 6pm I worked there, designing and working on a mannequin, matching fabrics and checking the work of the tailors. After work, I usually went shopping at the amazing malls. My dinner was normally in hotels, where I found “European” food and good wine, which I really missed!

What's the most impressive thing that you remember?

For us, Europeans, is very difficult to learn how to approach a culture so far from ours. I can tell you that one of the most impressive things is the way to talk and confront with them. It's really amazing how the embroidery staff works, so quickly, and so good. Designing something very different from our taste was really impressive too.



What's your favourite city?

I haven’t lived in many cities, but I’d say that London and, in some ways, Milan are currently my favorites.

Where will you go on your next trip?

I booked a flight to Paris, but I’ll surely take other trips before that. This is a period in which I really need to leave Milan. I’d like to go for a week to a desolate island to purify my mind and get new inspirations; probably I’ll do it this summer.

5 songs?

"So far around the bend" - The national

"Things will never be the same again" - JJ

"Island blues " - Koop

"Push the heart" - The devics

"Glory box" - Portishead

"Aint got no/ I got life" - Nina simone

Describe your style... where do you buy your cothes?

My style is very easy. I love knitwear and men’s bags. Fortunately I’m tall, so I can play with oversized and long trenches and coats, which I really love. I usually mix everything: old garments from my family, luxury brands, vintage stuff, avante-garde brands from Asia…. Sometimes I wear self-made clothes. Right now, I’m finding happiness in shoes. I need to buy a new pair twice a month.

What objects can't be absent in your house?

Sugar cane, a mannequin, my collection of white objects & magazines, pictures, white wine, the nespresso machine and my cashmere duvet.