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Ginevra Elkann and the Art of Introduction

WWD recently caught up with the Italian tastemaker to talk about the Venice Biennale, style and her new book, "May I Introduce You?"

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Ginevra Elkann and Giuseppe Stefanel

Photo By Marco Santi Amantini

VENICE — Known for her exquisite taste in art, fashion and most of all in people, Ginevra Elkann cuts quite a swath. Just take the recent Venice Biennale, where even during the chaos of the art show, the maitre d’ at the Hotel Monaco was only too happy to reserve a table for 10 on the canal for her at only a few hours’ notice. The granddaughter of Gianni Agnelli, Elkann is the daughter of Margherita Agnelli and writer Alain Elkann. If further proof of her influence were needed, the Italian fashion brand Stefanel recently asked Elkann to choose 25 young innovators in different fields spanning fashion, art, architecture and design. The book, “May I Introduce You?,” is just out in Europe.

WWD caught up with her to talk about the Biennale, style and her latest projects.


WWD: What was your favorite thing that you saw while you’ve been here for the Biennale?
Ginevra Elkann:
I really enjoyed the American pavilion. I thought it really represented America, of course, a very specific vision of America. The other thing that I very much enjoyed was the Prada Foundation collection. There were some extremely beautiful spaces there and really every piece is fantastic. You can see how much of Miuccia Prada there is in the collection. I enjoyed seeing that.

WWD: Of course, this relates to your own project, the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli.
G.E.:
Yes.

WWD: The Pinacoteca shows collections. It’s about the vision of the collector.
G.E.:
Yes. I really enjoyed seeing the Peggy Guggenheim show, which was also the vision of one woman. Somehow, when you see a collection in this way, it makes it easier for you because it’s already been edited or curated by someone else. Someone else has made the best choices. It was really beautiful to see in Venice the collections of these two great women collectors — both collecting in very different ways, both very beautiful collections.

WWD: That brings us to this idea of choices. I understand that you have just published a book, a sort of guide to creativity where you chose a group of young people that you consider to be creative visionaries in their own fields?
G.E.:
It’s a book called “May I Introduce You?” I was asked by Stefanel to choose 25 young, creative people from around the world. It was a very difficult choice to make, so I decided to make it very personal, to choose people I know or that I’ve worked with where I’ve seen the creativity in their lives and the creativity in action. I also chose people that have inspired me in many ways and that I have always wanted to meet somehow. This was a really good opportunity for me to think about these sorts of individuals. And they’re really very different: they range from fashion to art, design and architecture, but also business and other fields that people wouldn’t always necessarily deem as creative. I wanted to show that creativity can be found in every field.

WWD: That’s an interesting idea, to include fashion designers, architects and artists with also more unlikely fields like business or engineering.
G.E.:
There are so many people that I could have put into this book but there wasn’t enough space. In the end, it was about anyone that invents or thinks about something or sees something familiar in a different way. It could have been a gardener or a cook or a businessman or whoever, really, as long as they see something in a way that is unusual.

WWD: Basically an original.
G.E.:
Exactly.

WWD: You call yourself a curator in the book, as well as an editor. Why is that?
G.E.:
That is what the publishing company called me.

WWD: I was thinking it could perhaps be because you love books so much and are so respectful that you think of editing as an artistic endeavor for yourself.
G.E.:
Well, I think that the term “editor” in Italy is slightly different than in America. As a word, it means something more like a publisher.

WWD: I thought you were being very modest.
G.E.:
Thank you.

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