Quira is the brainchild of Italian designer Veronica Leoni, one of this year’s finalists for the LVMH Prize. During a Zoom call from her studio in Rome, Leoni said I was surprised to be in the final selection. “A start-up like Quira will not necessarily develop according to the rules that the industry generally follows today. This makes me optimistic that its challenging path has been acknowledged.”
Leoni on Know a thing or two about the inner workings of the fashion system. Her pedigree comes from working closely with Jil Sander and Celine’s Phoebe Philo; for both brands, she was head designer of the knitwear collections. Moncler’s Remo Ruffini places Leoni at the top of Moncler’s womenswear creativity 1952; she currently works closely with Olsens as a consultant for The Row’s menswear and womenswear collections. “In Quira, the creative directors I’ve had the pleasure of working with have a co-existence of all the differences, geographically and stylistically,” she says. “But it’s a co-existence of experience, not an aesthetic co-existence.”
The designer’s Italian roots endow three-year-old Quira with a playful quality, an expressive instinct idiosyncrasy, which translates into, as Leoni puts it, “minimalism”. The sensibilities of her mentors are distilled into a “guerrilla project” that embodies her personal vision of contemporary femininity—rigorous but spontaneous, sensually harsh, simple and essential, with a hint of audacity. Her “love for Made in Italy” supports an imaginatively complex structure that doesn’t stray far from a rigorous, almost precise approach. There is creative freedom in her rigorous designs, though “the constraints are tight,” she says, “when it comes to editing and respecting the essence of my stylistic composition. I would call it balance rather than minimalism.”
For Fall, Leoni has further honed her vision of the modern wardrobe, infusing it with a staid freshness while remaining exceptionally wearable. There was an undercurrent of Philo’s unconventional artistic classicism and Sander’s elegant, pure undercurrent, but the overall look was Leoni’s. Clarity of shape is paired with playful cuts and constructions, while thoughtful details (what she calls “little hidden secrets”) give each piece edge and unique personality.
“Challenging my creativity, allowing moments of discomfort to occur helps push the process toward unpredictable solutions,” explains the designer. One of the collection’s best looks—a seemingly classic dress suit—provided the template for Leoni’s modus operandi. Masculine strong-shouldered jackets were cut in spirals to accommodate the hips with soft, almost drapey movement; boxy pleated skirts were vertical and rigorous, made of dense, tight wool in a uniform gray. “I wanted something reminiscent of 18 couture, and the 18 century, with some unexpected ballads injected into the silhouette,” she proposed. “I’m after style, not fashion.”