Sebastiano Ragusa - elysium.e Interview


Stylist ___ Stern. Zitty Modebuch. A Shaded View On Fashion.
Fashion Director ___ DERZEIT.

" Grace Jones is a Slave to the Rhythm. I’m a slave to the Fashion! "

IN HIS WORDS: "It was always clear to me that I wanted to work in fashion. When I was a little boy I loved playing with Barbie. Even when my game was as simple as dressing Barbie up, undressing and redressing again. When I finished High School I wanted to become a designer, but never really tried. I was just too scared to face my biggest dream, so it took me a while to find my way. When I came across a degree in Fashion Journalism, I thought that was a good way to get into the fashion industry. After my studies I still needed some time to figure out what I really wanted to do. I can be very slow, so I need to take my time to make a decision and I don’t like to be pressurized. But once I know what I want, I go for it

Eventually, I moved to Berlin and started an internship with a magazine called ‘Liebling’ and started assisting one of the most talented stylists I know, Tabassom Charaf. Just half a year later I got the opportunity to be the fashion director of 'Derzeit.' I would consider myself very lucky. You have to realize this all happened in just 3 years, so I still like to flirt with the idea of being a baby stylist"

Sebastiano Ragusa is certainly an engaging chap, someone who seems to unapologetically wear his heart on his - most probably well tailored - sleeve. Suffice to say the quirks of his work seems to be well engrained in his intriguing personality. A creative we can relate too in terms of 'career' pressures, hes certainly made an impression on us. Thus we've decided to self administer a time-out, during which we hope to gather our thoughts, in a very Ragusa-esque manner. We suggest you take an additional leaf from this book and take a second to peruse this prying Tête à Tête, which for the record involves a snippet of what we can expect from 'DERZEIT' in the future

*DERZEIT Fashion Week Berlin Daily 'PARAGON LOST' Issue _ Photography : Thuy Pham _ Hair & Make-up: Philipp Koch Verheyen _

ElysiumEditorial: You have roots in fashion journalism, completing a university degree in said discipline. What triggered this transition to styling & when did the visual aspect of the industry begin to eclipse your journalistic beginnings?

SebastianoRagusa: It all started during my studies. I realized that I preferred to work in a more practical way with fashion, touching, arranging and discovering new dimensions in already existing garments

EE: You are based within the heart of Berlins booming cultural scene _ we assume living in such a creative Mecca strongly influences your work?

SR: I work in the Mitte district, which is said to be the most fashionable and progressive district of Berlin. Frankly speaking this is not where I find inspiration. It happens more often using public transport and observing ‘everyday people.’ I’m often very surprised by the way these ‘ordinary’ people dress with their grasp of styling, which originates from a totally different approach to fashion. I would say I am thrilled the most by fashion accidents

EE: Furthermore, being amongst such a hyper-mobile scene, we assume you are aware of the names and brands currently trending in the city? Anything particularly exciting occurring that we should be aware of?

SR: There are a few that you should have an eye on. Derzeit launched a calendar project called ‘Twelve’ in 2011, where we introduce 12 new model faces and 12 Berlin based designers every year. In the calendar for 2012 you will find 3 established designers and 9 upcoming talents, like Von Bardonitz, Thone-Negrón and Moga E Mago, just to name a few. We also highlight artists doing wearable sculptures, creative’s like Rein Vollenga. Unfortunately, there are two very promising design duos missing from this year’s calendar, Issever Bahri and Augustin Teboul

EE: In a domain where things are judged on their visual value, how do you tackle your personal style in relation to your daily wardrobe and the way in which you present yourself? On a similar note, are you conscious of that fact that your own style should never eclipse the artistry of your editorial work?

SR: I have a kind of uniform that I nearly always wear, Levis’s 501, black jumper, bomber jacket and Doc Martens. When I’m in the right mood, I love to dress up, which basically means I try to look like Darth Vader, my true style icon

When I’m on a production I completely focus on my work, there is no need for me to prove that I have an impeccable or unique way of dressing myself. I concentrate on my work. Here I appreciate modesty, but I don’t believe in a dogma. The stylist’s personal style is part of his work and overall vision, I don’t think it would eclipse the artistry of his practice but only enhance it

EE: Right, so now we have your own basics covered - how would the man & woman you style choose to present themselves on a daily basis?

SR: If the idea of a ‘daily basis’ has anything to do with dressing accordingly to occasions, it is something I totally don’t believe in. My women would rather look like Thierry Mugler's über-woman and the guys like Tom of Finland clones

EE: Whilst perusing the web we came across this statement in regards to a stylist’s role _ to enhance the creative direction of each project. Would you agree that your role is to merely magnify an aesthetic? If this is not the case, how would you define your role in a shoot situation?

SR: I would agree with this statement, though it depends on the production of course. For me fashion is the principal performer and I hate the fact that sometimes it is just used (or nearly abused) to transmit a certain atmosphere. I am deep into the garments, I can be thrilled and excited like a child and it’s that passion I want to share in my work

*DERZEIT Fashion Week Berlin Daily 'PHANTASMIC BLAZE' Issue _ Photography: Patrick Houi _ Hair & Make-up: Philipp Koch Verheyen _

EE: International Faggorist _the title of your design work seems to be somewhat cryptic. Could you please explain this self administered title?

SR: Faggorist is a hybrid between faggot and terrorist. In my own work I love to focus on very gay subjects. I love clichés and I love to quote. As I am more of a smooth operator the terroristic aspect in my work shows in a very subtle way

EE: There seems to be an eclectic and concentrated sense of theatre in your work – opting for dramatic impact over a subtle narrative. Would this be a fair observation? Do you feel your portfolio reads in a particular way?

SR: I was born to Sicilian parents, so drama runs in my veins. There is something very contradictory to my work, a catholic and traditional side clashing into a German soberness. I think my portfolio could be read as the diary of a little girl, but on the other hand it’s up to the observer

EE: It’s quite clear upon the first glance at your portfolio that you have a sound sense for colour. We assume you would never follow the current gospel for a complete monochromatic approach, one which many fashion editors currently favour?

SR: Its funny you say so, because all of my friends know that I have a problem with colours. I need bright clear colour to really identify them, everything too shady or light I have problems recognizing is it green or brown / blue or violet? I guess that’s the reason why I go for bright and ‘in your face.’ I would never follow a current gospel, even if I can’t deny that my work is definitely influenced by the Zeitgeist

EE: You are Fashion Director of DERZEIT _ an independent fashion week publication _ what does this role entail? Do you feel this is a natural progression for the freelance stylist?

SR: As a fashion director of Derzeit I work very closely with the art director Manuel Schibli, who is also one of the publishers. He develops first ideas and then I try to translate them into fashion. For the editorial content regarding fashion, I am more of a consultant to our editor in chief Nina Trippel. During fashion week I also write some fashion reports. I think this is a very natural progression referring to my education

EE: We are very fond of the contradiction you force with the recycled elements of your design work _ further magnified by your involvement with Butterflysoulfire, a company known for their fondness of deconstruction. Is this perhaps a calculated response to the troubled financial climate currently being experienced internationally?

SR: As far as my own work is concerned, I have always been into recycling, using either old or broken or ugly pieces and putting them into a new context. Regarding Butterfly Soulfire I don’t think it’s calculated at all – if there is a connection I am not aware of it. I think it is more of a basic principle and aesthetical point of view

EE: You were involved with the styling for the AW’11 Lookbook for Butterflysoulfire. We assume the task of creating such a together image from a somewhat dismantled wardrobe was rather challenging?

SR: I’ve known Maria and Thoas from Butterfly Soulfire for so many years now. I know the way they work and how their designing evolved in the last years. So doing the lookbook and image campaign (which I have done for 3 seasons) is a straightforward and enjoyable task

EE: From fashion journalist to stylist and ultimately fashion director, would an intense period of design be the next link to this chain? Is it important to ultimately assign yourself a strict artistic title or is it important that we allow for complete creative freedom?

SR: I’ve always had this dream of doing a shoe collection one day. I’ve been drawing shoes for 10 years already. I don’t need an artistic title and I don’t see myself as an artist anyway. I would rather love to be a craftsman, as I am full of respect for handcraft, but I am not. Grace Jones is a Slave to the Rhythm. I’m a slave to the Fashion!

EE: After your work, what is your best talent?

SR: I am a good mother and a sexy dancer

Elysium(E): A place or state of perfect happiness – When are you at your happiest?

SR: When I am dancing and prancing

EE: To conclude, what one question had you hoped might be included in this interview, furthermore how would you answer said question?

SR: Who would you like to be and what would you love to do as this person?

I would die to be Diana Ross and perform ‘No one gets the prize’ at Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, back in the seventies

*DERZEIT Fashion Week Berlin Daily 'HINTERLAND REVISITED' Issue _ Photography: Jonas Lindström _ Hair & Make-up: Tom Strohmetz _

Sebastiano Ragusa Fashion Director @ DERZEIT