Lino Giordano is a curator of fine art and fashion. An artist, a rebel. He embraces the collision of the power of clothing and story-telling through print. He is a passionate artist who lives to make bold statements. He advocates freedom of expression and is drawn to the narrative within any media. He likes meaning and reason – and his comprehensive life experience and childhood has added both depth and a dark, edgy perspective to his unique and soulful creations. Lino has worked tirelessly to carve out his niche in the world of designer fashion. His work is a collision of fine art and high-end couture, which brings together elements of his Sicilian upbringing, his verve for adventure, his heartbreaks and his rebellion against his Catholic background.
Influenced by his fascination of the juxtaposition between femininity and the strength women possess, Lino’s collections have an aesthetic that is remarkably unique. Many of his garments are, at first glance, gloriously feminine. But they are designed to be worn with attitude – and therein lies Lino’s talent. His designs are more than simply clothing, they promote assertiveness, confidence and a sharp edge of insolence.
“…what sparked my interest in fashion? The power of clothing. The transformative quality of dressing up, becoming characters, telling stories through print, making statements, the freedom of expression with no words needed, rebellion against the churches I grew up in. There’s just a few. I guess you could say I am drawn to narrative within any media. I like meaning and reason for just about everything. Autobiographical work, for me, is much more thought-provoking and powerful than fiction. I consider myself a realist more than a romanticist and I believe that my comprehensive life experience, good and bad, has added both depth and perspective to much, if not all, of my work.”
He is a fountain of knowledge and conversant with the current world news and what is going on around him, as well as what is going down in the land of celebrity, film, fashion and music. His downfall, he admits, is that he expects everyone else to be equally accordant and becomes slightly irritated and somewhat baffled when they prove not to be. He sure is a character.
Our fascination with the unknown and the paranormal is as old as time itself. Throughout history there has always been an obsession to imagine that death is merely a conduit to something more meaningful, and a need to believe in something greater than ourselves. For Lino, who has a strict Sicilian Catholic background, the religious elements of believing in powers more elevated than our own did not bring him the divine comfort and peace that the rest of his family experienced. During his regular visits to the church, the young Lino instead developed a fascination for the darker side of religious rituals. Witnessing the adults drink red wine and eat communion bread to symbolise the blood and body of Christ had a profound impact on him. He would be equally startled and intrigued by the Sicilian women dressed head to toe in layers of black, earthy fabrics, wondering if they were indeed human beyond their tiers of clothing. The dark and often horrific side of religion has found a home in Lino’s fine art and fashion. He chose his formative years at college to dare to rebel against the ‘10 Commandments,‘ creating a tortured garment using family photographs, extracts from his diary and biblical passages, digitally transferred onto the fabric. The finished dress was hung above stones and gravel with burning pages from the bible, below. It was a strong and audacious way to collide religion and horror and set the seeds for Lino’s utter beguilement for the paranormal themes that are etched in to so many of his garments.
“…. my Sicilian heritage has a lot to answer for. In recounting my journey to the study of fashion, I am reminded of the negative stereotyping in which I suffered from a very young age. Growing up in a large Sicilian family, mixed with tranquil English Christians, equally as religious, full of competitive and somewhat tough relatives, I was mocked and ridiculed for the sketches I created of dresses. I remember quite clearly how one of my older cousins accused me of wanting to habitually wear dresses and that an interest in fashion was a ‘girls thing.’ The early interest had always been there, along with various other art forms, but the fear of being laughed at, being loathed, and not fitting in with my older, male macho cousins held me back, tremendously. I mean, I wasn’t even allowed an earring in one ear, that’s how strict it was. When I wanted to conform with the other boys at school I asked my Dad if I could have an earring. His answer was straight to the point, as it always was with me, and that was that he would ‘rip it out of my ear’ because ‘earrings are for girls.’ My Dad is not the sort of man you would argue with and I had often experienced a good few beltings from him for daring to answer back. So not least for their comments, I jumped into the medias that were considered more masculine, like photography and media production whilst at the same time rebelling against the no-earring threat by using indian ink and a stanley knife and cutting church crosses and blasphemous 666 symbols into my arms and one of my legs, tattooing myself because I considered it not only as rebellious but also to be the ultimate masculine badge and one that neither my Dad nor my older male cousins bore. Not effeminate like an earring in any way, shape or form. Needless to say, I was punished accordingly.”
Exploring the horror genre in all its art forms, from film to music and books is what inspires so many of Lino’s creations. You really must see his collection of horror films to appreciate the broad and deep range of movies he takes inspiration from. The titles veer from mainstream releases to some wholly disturbing amateur films with grainy and distorted visuals and dark, edgy foreign cinema releases. Eduardo Sanchez is a film director who Lino worships, (a carefully chosen word in an ironic nod to his complicated relationship with religion). Lino has taken inspiration both from the gritty reality of Sanchez’s arguably most famous release, The Blair Witch Project, and also Seventh Moon, based on a Chinese belief that a full moon in the seventh lunar month opens the gates of hell to allow the dead to enter the realms of the living.
“…. we would go to Sicily every year, to stay with my Dad’s family over there. I would say it has had a real impact on my creative ideas with the Catholic church providing both context and content. Whilst the normal kids my age all hung out, had their cool house parties and experienced all sorts of normal adolescent fun, I was made to attend church four evenings a week as well as Sunday school which was ran by my Mum and my Aunty. It seemed like a punishment to me. I was encouraged to behave in a certain way and not to question what I experienced or saw. I witnessed such dramatic praying, falling over, shouting, crying out to the Lord, who some claimed had touched them, right there and then. I would be somewhat scared, but fascinated too, looking around me, for this holy spirit. Some overtly religious church goers would collapse in fits of appraisal whilst others applauded and cried. But still, we asked nothing. My older sisters were baptised again as adults, in the church, my older sister played the piano and organs for all the services whilst my other sister took round the communion. My Mum, voluntarily, used to clean the church after she had been work all day. This is how committed our family was. They would have to wear long dresses, preferably even trousers. Anything that covered the female form from all its glory. One would attract the cry of ‘putana’ (whore) if one so much as even revealed a knee. It was all so very repressed. But I was captivated by such scenes. I watched my Nonna (Grandma) kneeling in sharp gravel she had scattered out on the balcony of her bedroom in Sicily. She would hitch her long dress up to reveal her bare knees, but only for God, and she would kneel straight down on to it, and pray. This was her way of re-creating the pain in which she believed Christ had suffered as he was crucified. My Nonna fascinated me. She was beautiful, naturally beautiful, timelessly beautiful, but never ever celebrated her beauty. She still is today. She became my muse. I did not look up to, or admire, many men at all, after the way they made me feel, growing up. I used to dream that when I was older I would have my models kneeling on crushed stones as they posed in my dresses and drank seductively out of communion cups, even pouring it over themselves, sexually. Of course, I could never reveal such thoughts. Sex and the mention of sex was totally forbidden. Any time it came on the television at home, my Mum would frantically search for the remote control to turn it over. Like horror film, it became an infatuation.”
Lino, together with the labels manager/business partner, Chris Faddy, are members of a paranormal investigation team who are invited to visit haunted locations to witness elements of the unknown and echoes of times gone by. By seeking inspiration in the unseen, the mysterious and the most disturbing of locations, Lino has used his sketchbook to visually interpret the atmosphere he feels and senses. His beautiful yet disturbing images, photographs and sketches have been captured in the fabric of his fashion, weaving sad stories of tragedy intricately with the beauty of a pure soul. Each garment tells a story, some sorrowful, some uplifting, some designed to test our senses of what is real and what is merely an illusion. Every piece of Lino’s couture contains a part of his soul and his essence, which adds a captivating touch of the supernatural to everything he creates.
“…. mood and atmosphere are my two key words within any of my fashion shoots. This stems from my love of childhood-forbidden horror film. Not everybody gets it, but then I wouldn’t expect everyone to understand, accept or even appreciate my art, my vision. What would be the fun in that?”
But, it’s not all just about the darkness and the unknown. Lino has an inherent rebellious intelligence to understand and dissect beauty and talent, the darkest and brightest realms of humanity in our world. Not only is it his upmost desire to visualise and create incredible, soul searching fashion – but to immortalise it, captivating not only the onlooker, the passers by, the friends, lovers or family – but the individual who dares to adorn such jaw dropping creativity. Every single individual piece contains within it Mr Giordano’s personality traits such as strength, integrity, honesty, brutal honesty, desire and a dash of mystery. To him, it is not just a statement, but a truth, a homage to those that we have loved. Leaving us unable to deny, that his very essence is poured into the material that becomes a breath, a sigh, a new beginning to the wearer, just like nature rebirthing. His artistic inspiration is peaked, the flame is lit, and the result is, to put it simply, nothing short of breathtaking. He has an inherent ideal that you are free to be whomever you want to be and these intelligent and intensely, somewhat painstakingly designed tenue, are not just an outfit, they are not a boring high street assemble but, importantly to Lino, a change of skin.
“….. I was sent to Theatre School at a young age, possibly to keep me out of trouble. I studied dance and drama, took part in many of the theatre plays, trained in all forms of dance, from jazz, modern, tap, ballet, ballroom and street. I later studied Media Production and Photography and done A-Levels in English and Media. I later started as a fine artist during my Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, a very intense study, but luckily with fabulous tutors, very hands-on tutors. I swapped over from fine art/film making to fashion design and textiles a few months into my National Diploma, I was the only student in my class to gain straight A grades, seven in a row, and to leave with a Distinction in Art & Design. This gave me enough UCAS points which enabled me to then apply for University. At University, I gained nine A-grades in a row, five of them being A-pluses. I left with a 1st Class Degree in Fashion Design and went onto to gain work experience several times at both London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week, working for the likes of Zandra Rhodes, amongst others. Although I consider myself a fashion designer, I do like the term fine-artist best as I feel this covers all the art forms and not just the one. I feel that all of the art forms in one way or another- find a way to gel, to combine. Looking at a stage set with one eye, then looking through a camera lens with another. This is also why I have this need in me to direct, when it comes to my own work. I cannot just hand my models over and sit back. That is not how I work. I have knowledge of it all, I have to work with the photographer, the angles and the ways in which my work is to be portrayed, I have to choose the make up for the models for my make-up girls to work with, I have to choose the hair, and so on. I need to be part of the whole production, the art direction, the poses of the models, the background, the lighting, the whole scenario.
It is all part of who I am. I am a visual artist, a fine artist and a fashion designer.”