Volt Café got a collection sneak peak of last years Central Saint Martins MA graduate Raffaele Ascione’s first London Fashion Week showcase. We spoke about life, ideas and his inspiration for the new collection.

Volt Café: How, when and where did you start fashion design?

Raffaele Ascione: In 2002 I moved from Germany to Ireland where I was introduced to fashion by my boyfriend who studied art. I had always had an interest in art and fashion, but it was there and then that I decided to focus on fashion 100%.

I began a two year long Fashion, Design and Textile course, and spent day and night at the University. After the course I decided to continue my Fashion studies and moved to England to do a BA in womenswear design at UCA Rochester.

After completing the BA I was picked up by MaxMara and moved to Italy.

VC: What was it like to work for a large brand like MaxMara?

RA: When I first moved to Italy I was bored and I didn’t feel that the job was challenging enough. Nevertheless, as I began to interact more with the team, taking part in every step of the chain including production, fittings and so on, I began to enjoy my job. I learnt a lot about what sells and what doesn’t and how to run a company. After one year at MaxMara I did by applying to the MA course at Central Saint Martins take a step closer to run my own label.

VC: You got accepted to the MA course, what did you gain from that education?

RA: To begin with I did not leave MaxMara but stayed on, working freelance for the for the first 8 months of the MA course. It was two great challenging years, I was literally ripped asunder and put back together in a new and stronger shape.

VC: It is now a year since you graduated, when did you decide to start your own label?

RA: After the MA I had a lot of doubts about what I wanted to do. I had several interviews and rejections which made me wonder whether the MA was preventing me from getting a job!

So I did a lot of commissioned jobs and tutoring at my old University UCA Rochester and decided to focus on the positive press and publicity I received after the MA, and give it a go with my own label.

From the very first start I was well organised and I decided what to prioritise. I got in contact with sponsors and got among other lace from the traditional French lace company Sophie Hallette and tailor made Lampo Zips from Haly. My dear friend Claire Davis is also designing the shoes for this season.

VC: Who do you imagine when you design, who is the women that would wear your pieces?

RA: One of my biggest inspirations is my close friend Sorcha O’Raghallaigh who did a BA at CSM two years ago. She is a feminine and fair, yet loud and confident Irish woman who I can imagine all of my pieces on.

If it is a celebrity, then Claire Danes is my ultimate dream woman; classic, timeless and just pure beauty.

VC: What has been your inspiration for AW12?

RA: This collection is very straightforward; it consists of things that I liked for a long time and is heavily inspired by my personal street style. You will see a lot of sports elements throughout the collection. It’s baseball mixed with 70’s Studio 54 glam. I love contrasts and mixing materials you normally wouldn’t put together, I see the collection as a natural development from the MA collection.

VC: It is almost like your culturally mixed background is mirrored in this collection.

RA: Yes, my mother is from Italy, I was raised in Germany and have now lived in Ireland and UK for nearly 10 years so I definitely think the street culture of all those different places can be seen in my work.

VC: What is your aim for the coming year?

RA: My goal is to get one big stockiest who places a large order, the dream would be Browns Focus or Harvey Nichols. Then continue to work in my own studio, increase the production team and pull together an amazing SS13 collection to show on the catwalk. I’d also like to continue tutoring as it is something I truly enjoy.

VC: Will we ever see a Raffaele MAN collection?

RA: It is absolutely part of my future plan to develop the brand and include 3-4 menswear looks within a couple of seasons.

Raffaele’s 10 Favourites

Designer – Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy.

Givenchy has been my top designer since 2005 and is along with Valentino someone I would love to work for.

Style Icon – Claire Danes. I’ve worshiped her since ‘My So Called Life’ where she wore checked dresses and shirts with black Dr Martins. Her understated, pure beauty is just amazing, she is stunning in anything.

Garment – The Coat. It is by far the most fun garment; it inspires me the most both in terms of my own wear and also within my designs.

Film – Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. The impeccable visuals, costumes and soundtrack makes it into the most beautiful film. I love everything about it and it has been my top favourite since 1996.

Art – Francis Bacon. The sheer volume and scale of his art is incredible.

And I also admire my personal friend Phillip Li who is a performance artist and a multi talent who always makes everything he does astonishing and aesthetically pleasing. I am looking froward to an up and coming collaboration!

Music – Britney Spears is my pop icon. I always go to her concerts twice when she is in London! I also listen to a lot of Hip hop and R’n’b.

Food – It is my mum’s Italian all the way for me – she is the most amazing cook! Nothing can beat her pasta Napoli with ricotta cheese.

City – Berlin. This is where I see myself living within a couple of years. It is so much cheaper and a much higher standard of living than London. Nevertheless I still feel that the city needs to grow a bit more in terms of fashion so for now London remains my home as I also keep it close to my heart.

Boutique – In Germany I always shop second hand, over here its mainly local, online and on the high street. I mix and match but honestly rarely go shopping. Maybe Dover Street one day as they do have the Givenchy menswear line…

Saying – ‘Debbie’ = Desperate

Anything and everyone can be ‘Debbie’! It is my favourite saying along with Oh Honey, It’s Grant, It’s a killer, Plain etc. I think me and my colleagues have our own little language going on.

We are now ‘Debbie’ to visit Vauxhall Fashion Scout on the 19th of February where Raffaele will be exhibiting his first collection AW12.

Words | Emelie Hultqvist


Emelie Hultqvist, Raffaele Ascione,