In Cosenza there is Massimo Cantini Parrini: “I don’t create a dress, I recreate a past world”


By John

Today the Primavera del Cinema Italiano will host “the archaeologist of fashion” Massimo Cantini Parrini, the greatest Italian costume designer. He is the only one to have won five David di Donatello. He is capable of rereading historical eras with different keys, from the baroque of fairy tales to the Italian reality of the late 70s, enhancing the body and personality of the actors.

Massimo Cantini Parrini – who at 5pm at the Moema Academy headquarters will hold the masterclass «Stage costumes in cinema» and at 8pm will participate at the Cinema San Nicola in a meeting with the producers Gregorio Paonessa and Marta Donzelli, of Vivo Film, before the screening of “Chiara” (2022) by Susanna Nicchiarelli – he is an absolute perfectionist. The recognizable and ingenious stylistic feature that distinguishes it marries tradition and innovation. And his ability comes out from traditional costumes, beautiful and impeccable, and from originality and ability to make a costume contemporary by choosing very simple fabrics and designs.

«The passion for the profession of costume designer and the passion for cinema have always been very distinct. Born in two different moments – says Cantini Parrini –. The one for clothing came from frequenting the tailor’s shop where my maternal grandmother worked. Seeing as a child those fabrics that from two-dimensional, rolled up on the table, became three-dimensional on the mannequin was magic. A magic that transformed into love for the dress. So I started collecting vintage clothes, first found at home and in the family, then on antique markets. It is from this archaeological side of fashion and clothing that the profession of costume designer was born and has been refined through studies, the experimental center, the meeting with Piero Tosi. And this love I had for the past I understood that it could be transformed into a profession. I never wanted to be a stylist. I have never wanted to face that world more ephemeral than mine. Cinema for me is making a dream come true. Giving substance to everything I have studied, to my cultural background, to my passion for recreating clothes.”
Yes, because he specifies it: «I don’t believe in the verb to create when it comes to clothing. I recreate a past world, a world that no longer exists and which then magically transforms on the screen and helps the actor to enter the character and the spectator to immerse themselves in a world made of magic. For me, in cinema it is also very important to know who the actors will be wearing my costumes. It is essential, when creating a costume, to be able to combine a physicality with a face. I come from the school of Piero Tosi, I carry forward that philological language that avoids technology, starts from historical research, from visits to museums which for me is essential even for contemporary projects. Even photography, perhaps from an era. Reality, even in fantasy projects, is my main inspiration. And then I get inspired by the ancient, I don’t miss an exhibition and when I start a new film – he explains – I go alone to those three or four museums that are fundamental to that story. My favorite regardless? The National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome”.

For Cantini Parrini, study is the basis for his profession: «I always say this to those who contact me and want advice. I often give the example of Picasso who invented Cubism, but he didn’t invent it from nothing. He knew how to draw. He invented cubism having a strong basis in drawing. And it is precisely this knowledge, this profound knowledge, the strength of a costume designer. Knowing the period that needs to be represented in order to draw its essence and make it your own, and then bring it to the screen. So study is essential. Passion is fundamental. And it is essential not to judge and not to dwell on the concept of beautiful or ugly because it is a very subjective concept. Conceiving a personality, outlining its traits, shaping its essence because this is all that reaches the public. The good and the bad never come!».