AI Gallery in Rome, July 2012
organised by AltaRoma and Artisanal Intelligence
©Simona Santelli

Digital Artist and Designer Chiara Cola introduced her celebrated printed silk scarf collection at the White Milano Contemporary Fashion Trade Show and the Green Pebbles Girls were there too!

Chiara Cola has created quite a buzz in the Italian fashion industry over the last couple of years as she was selected by Vogue Italy New Talents and Vogue Italy Video Lab.  She’s also conquered fans abroad and is now one of the designers on Not Just A Label.

We took the opportunity to interview Chiara!

Chiara Cola at her booth at A.I. White Milano
©Melissa McLaren

Chiara you are an accomplished artist and designer, when did you realize this was what you wanted to do in your life?
I became very sure about it during a long trip to Brazil in summer 2006. 
I understood I would have followed an artistic path and everything happened since then. I have a MA degree in media studies but I learned digital softwares on my own and it’s been an absolute love for 6 years! 

©Chiara Cola
©Photography Simona Santelli
What inspires your designs?

I think nature is a big source of inspiration: animals, insects, details of flowers, creatures from the deep abyss. I love interesting and complex surfaces, I love shapes and beings that are bold, extravagant, colored but mainly I am really fascinated by all the invisible “objects”, investigated by science and medicine too. I had a time in which I really wanted to study to become genetist or virologist… who knows, maybe I will still do it one day! I am way more intrigued by the invisible worlds rather than the visible ones. 

©Chiara Cola
©Photography Simona Santelli

What do you love about being a designer?
I love the fact that being an artist and designer the way I do it allows me to express my inner world and makes my imagination run free and with no boundaries. I also really like witnessing the reactions of people and listening to their interpretations of my images. I find it really inspiring and good for the heart!

©Chiara Cola
©Photography Simona Santelli
How does your Italian culture and background influence your designs?

Ithink the strongest connection I can find is with the light and the colors of the landscape: where I grew up, light is very ‘dramatic”, shadows are very bold and dark, they really create the shapes of life. In my work, these influences play a big role: colors are strong, images are full of contrasts, shadows play a constructive function… I can also find an echo of my culture in my attitude to curiosity, I grew up in a beautiful, small city close to Rome, Palestrina, without the distractions of the big cities.. this gave me a lot of time for fantasy and imagination….. 

©Chiara Cola
©Photography Simona Santelli

Can you tell us more about your latest collection?  What was the inspiration behind this collection?

More than with collections linked to a season, I work with series and concepts: my latest one was inspired by the God of (broken) Mirrors, an imaginary deity that protects the inhabitants of Prisma. These images are connected to the video “Prisma” that I created in July 2011, that was screened at A I Gallery in July 2012.  

Which design do you think represents you and your brand the best and why?

Very difficult to choose only one design! But I would say it is “Black Prisma”because it is a complex image, it presents architectural elements, strong colors, it is rich in details and viewers imagine many different things in this image. It is melancholic and it somehow reminds me of childhood. 

Chiara Cola Silk Scarves Collection

All your collections are entirely Made in Italy, how important is Made in Italy to you and why?

It is an heritage of which I am really proud of and that I want to contribute to keep alive, strong and capable of always creating new amazing products. There is really the hard work of so many people behind it!

What can we expect from your next collection?

My next collection/series entitled “Imaginary landscapes: by day and by night” presents very complex and dramatic images, with lots of various architectural shapes and intricate chromatic details. All of them have, as usual, a title and a story behind. 

Each fantasy city is portrayed in its day/night version as I think day and night change so much the surface of places through light/darkness/emptiness/refraction of colors etc..  Expect some new amazing materials for the new prints! Expect a great photographic story/editorial featuring the new prints! 

Silk Cape  from The God of Mirrors Collection
©Melissa McLaren
You recently created a mini collection of tailor made dresses, which are almost fairy tale like!  Can you tell us more about them and your inspiration behind them?

Yes! The collection is inspired by the God of (broken) Mirrors: I always love how broken mirrors refract light and fragment the world. It is constituted of cocktail dresses/longuette dresses/mantles and 2 big evening gowns. I created them with a tailor, based on my designs. 

I imagined the print for each style and it was a big challenge as I never worked with so big dimensions before: for the grey evening gown, for example, I created one 5 mts long image to be printed on silk satin. The result is a very special dress with a huge volume skirt, it is really fairy tale style! 

©Chiara Cola
©Photography Simona Santelli

The capes are spectacular pieces too, they portray 2 of the multiple reincarnations of the God of Mirrors and they were presented as an exclusive preview for the event A.I. Remove at the WHITE fair in Milan (12-14th Jan 2013). 

I wanted to create a contrast between the classical/fairy tale like styles and the bold, really contemporary and technological digital prints. I can see the very big evening gowns could be perfect also as unique bridal dresses or costumes for movies. 

Can we expect more of these mini collections from you?

Yes, I definitely want to create more of these and I want to work with these dresses on commission: the customer could also choose the digital image, making the final piece even more personal and unique. This is an artisanal/digital production rather than an industrial one.

©Chiara Cola
©Photography Simona Santelli

What sets Chiara Cola brand apart from other brands?

I think the difference is in the images and the process behind them: my images are really special and unique, they portray parallel worlds, they create a lot of curiosity and endlessly inspire people’s imagination. I am a digital artist so what I produce is not just a brand or a piece of clothing, it is definitely something different, more personal, more complex, more mysterious, not subjected to external trends. I really feel a great emotive attachment to all of my creations and I regard each of them as my “children”. 

Who are your clients?  Who buys and wears Chiara Cola?

The audience of my accessories is wide and it goes from young girls to women, the stretch tulle shawls are really a cult! Men like and buy my scarves too, especially the wool ones. My accessories are appreciated by the customers also because I choose peculiar fabrics to make them. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?

To meet and work with Italian costume designer Milena Canonero.

The Alien Emperor Dress
©Melissa McLaren
Who do you look up to as a designer?

Just to mention some I really love: Viktor&Rolf, Valentino Garavani, Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Giambattista Valli, Alexander McQueen. But as my work is digital art, I think I am way more influenced by the work of architects, film directors, scientists and pioneers with brave ideas

Is there a style icon you would wish to see wear your designs?

Yes, I would love to see Rossy de Palma wearing one of my evening gowns. 

Where do you hope to be 5 years from now?

I can’t predict the future but, in 5 years, I hope to be still doing what I love,I hope to have developed my fashion and art business and to have made it much stronger. I can see in front of me a big studio/house full of light, colors and dogs! What I am sure of is that I will keep my inner curiosity and my peculiar imagination and vision of the world. 

Where can we purchase your collections?

As now, you can buy my limited editions accessories at multi brands store White Gallery and boutique Le Talpe in Rome and online on Not just a label and TLC Sweden. I am working on broadening my distribution to other countries too.