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Top editors regularly attend their shows, and international retailers cite the line as a fall favorite, along with Prada, Jil Sander, Marni, Burberry and Gucci.
"I don't agree when people say that a commercial sensibility castrates creativity. On the contrary, I think it can be quite stimulating while pure creativity can be limitative," said Aquilano. In many ways, the duo's strength lies in the intriguing chemistry between them and their intellectual and creative diversities.
The fair Rimondi is outspoken and articulate, while Aquilano, who has a crop of dark hair, is reclusive and more diplomatic. Their design perspectives balance each other the same way they contradict one another during an interview over Miuccia Prada's design coherence (supported by Rimondi) versus the flakiness of young designers (Aquilano argues they're reflecting a strong identity) and show venues. "Tommaso doesn't like to hear this but of the two, I'm more attentive to the commercial aspect of the collection, while he is more engrossed with making beautiful and trendy clothes," chuckled Rimondi.
Aquilano maintains a diplomatic stance. "We know how difficult it is to meld editorial interest and salability. I'm not sure how photogenic our clothes are, but we know our clients are happy. The quality is high and the clothes are palatable."
Aquilano and Rimondi met during one of the many consultancies they are still committed to, though clients' names are top secret. They are also the creative directors for IT Holding–owned Malo.
Convinced women need great basics to relieve the what-to-wear stress, Rimondi shows off a high-waist pencil skirt with rear-enhancing diagonal cuts. "Some people may think this is a classic black skirt, but it's more than a basic because it evolves through details," he said.
Ditto for a straight pinstriped skirt with eyelets around the high waistband, an erstwhile technique for which men would fasten their shirt to the eyelets to keep it tucked inside. Cashmere sweaters instead feature leg-o'-mutton sleeves and cable insets.