THE BIRTH OF MADAME ASTRID COUTURE
Astrid Fataki is a well-known makeup artist at L’Oréal and head of a new fashion house Madame Astrid Couture. She lives and produces her unique creations in Caserta, Italy. Born of an African father and Italian mother, bilingual Astrid unites both cultures in her work. Their primary characteristics are not only a mix of occidental and African motifs, but also high quality of fabric, individual design and availability. “I break the scheme that high fashion made in Italy is not for everyone”, she proudly underlined in our interview recorded in June 2016 on the Janiculum Hill, Rome.
The talent of this young and glamorous designer was noticed only a few years ago. In a very short time she has managed to conquer the catwalks of her region, Campania, and of Milan. She is “one of 10 talents to bet on in 2015″ according to “One”, an international fashion magazine run by the famous Italian journalist, Nicola Santini. Astrid’s experience of the world of fashion started in make up. As makeup artist and beauty advisor for cosmetic brands such as Stefania D’Alessandro, L’Oréal, Kryolan and Mac she learnt how to identify customers’ needs quickly. It was her winning weapon as a debuting designer and businesswoman.
For the moment Madame Astrid Couture, a prospering family brand, specializes in women’s clothes. The designer likes to emphasise, in her opinion “make up and dresses are like a second skin”. Following this conviction, Madame Astrid Couture strives to create designs able to exploit virtues and skillfully hide imperfections. Astrid guarantees her clients a full service; make up, beauty advice and styling. No wonder her quick growing business has spread successfully abroad. She is especially loved in the UK, in London. Anyone interested can see or buy her collections at www.madameastrid.com.
Before having become designer you were a successful makeup artist for L’Orèal. Who did you work with?
Before having become a stylist, I was a makeup artist – but I still am. Before L’Orèal, I had been trained by Stefania D’Alessandro, a very important makeup artist that follows make up for Fiorello [an Italian comedian, singer, radio and television presenter]. Then I had the opportunity to work with other important companies. With local brand I worked in fashion shows and I participated in Rome and Florence Fashion Week. As a makeup artist I tasted the world of fashion. With my team from that period I was able to make up the various characters and work in the film industry.
Astrid Fataki Designer (wearing her dress) was interviewed by Joanna Longawa in June 2016 in Janiculum Hill @ Photo by Massimo Insabato
In 2014 Astrid Madame Couture was born and in a period of only two years you became a recognized designer. What is the key to your great success?
The key to my success is definitely the determination and the will to do great things. I’m very creative. When I look at a woman, I start from the makeup. I see the dress for her as if it was makeup. In my opinion makeup and clothes together are the second skin. This is my source of inspiration. When I look at a customer I imagine how I could make her even more beautiful. For me all women are beautiful, you only must know how to makeup and dress them.
You are also a mix of the two cultures: Italian and African. Do your origins influence your creations?
Yes, I am the mix of races. This has been a help and a hindrance. I love to mix two cultures, Western with African. Unfortunately, I do not return to Africa because my country is beset by constant wars, I was 9 the last time I was there. My family is spread around the world and we often see each other in Europe. In my house in Italy we had always lived an African culture, and combining these two cultures is a great mix. For example, my clothes make use of African fabrics, we live in a cosmopolitan world so why not make the most of it?
Astrid and Joanna are wearing dresses from the Summer Collection Madame Astrid Couture 2016 @ Photo by Massimo Insabato
Who are your customers and what needs do they have?
What is Madame Astrid? Madame Astrid is worn by women from around the world from different social groups. I design the so called total look. I choose a dress and present a complete look. In my atelier you can find women who seek uniqueness, want to have a personalised makeup. I make them new. I take care of the person. I have my staff, guys who make up and do the hair, but I am makeup artist, hair dresser and stylist. While I work in my studio with customers on projects deciding upon the right dress or entire wardrobe, with clients from northern Italy, France or the UK I end up travelling a lot!
Do you travel a lot for work and where are your customers from?
Yes, I am travelling a lot. Recently I have been to Nice and Paris, for pleasure and for business. I’m lucky to have a big family spread throughout the world and at the beginning my family were my clients. I slowly started to make and sell clothes travelling between Belgium, France, England and Canada. I often go directly to the customer and strive to make them happy. This job is challenging but beautiful. In the world we live, based on appearance, your challenge is to give the result and I always succeed. My work background was mostly working with actors in the theatres. The actors’ makeup is applied very quickly. I understood therefore, the pursuit of perfection.
Have you already participated with your collections at international shows?
I’ve done various shows in Italy (in Campania region, Fashion shows in Rome and Milan) and one of my own on 13 December, 2014 in the Grand Hotel Vanvitelli, one of the biggest hotels in Caserta. I have presented my dresses for exhibitions abroad also as I have a sister in London who does Public Relations.
Where were your design & style talent born?
My talent was born when I started to work as makeup artist with Stefania D’Alessandro. When I was studying with her, I observed how she moved. Once the publicity with the costume of Pinocchio made by her impressed me and I asked myself ‘why can’t I try this too’? One day I decided to do a photo shoot on the theme of the 1920s, making all the outfits. I took care of everything from clothing to makeup. Returning home two of my neighbors saw me bringing two dresses and they liked them so much that they wanted to buy them. For me it was absurd. One of them tried one, it fit well and I gave it to her. This was the spark that made me realize that I really could do it as a profession. Then, working for the fashion shows I have been called by my manager many times to help with the outfits and with models. It was another sign that I could do that. I have never studied styling, I’m self-taught. When I realized that I could do that, I started to study by myself. I bought many books, I even started to draw, no one believed in it. Even my daughter, when she saw me drawing, was shocked. My talent emerged in a very short time.
What materials do you use? Is there a fashion designer you adore?
The fabrics I use are quite valuable. I choose between taffeta, chiffon and cotton wax, the typical African fabric, made with the ancient traditions. I have my suppliers in Africa as I am Congolese. I still have family there. A friend of my aunt comes to Italy bringing me fabrics and I choose what I want. Bazin is another very special chic fabric. I like to work with fabrics of a certain level. As we speak about my favorite fashion designer, it’s Coco Chanel. I have always loved her. This is my icon of beauty
You have already said that Madame Astrid Couture is a family business. How is your company structured?
In addition to my sister, I have a cousin in Paris, my husband – who is the administrative department, my daughter who is my model and then there’s the companion of my daughter who is a photographer. I arrange everything on the family level. This business motivates us. I have tried to work with various young collaborators but unfortunately I have not found the same desire to work hard and invest in the project. I am sorry to say but today young people in Italy see only the economic part, not considering sacrifice that is behind the show. My business is a start-up, even though it is going well I am always still calling it start-up. Despite the good things that come to me, for heaven’s sake, I do keep my feet on the ground. I have no social life, you will never see me around. It’s no use. I do not like appearance, I like to work hard. If you work hard in silence, the success will speak for itself.
In which direction would you like to develop in the future? What would you like to accomplish?
My business is going well, thanks be to God. I am a practicing Catholic believer. I made a covenant with God to give me the chance to become a great entrepreneur because I have only one dream: to give work to many people who suffer today and who no one cares about. I am not interested in becoming famous, I’m interested in producing work. If you produce work and give to others, you give them back their dignity. I want to be a source of employment for many people and support the economy to work in a beneficial way for society.
Interview by Joanna Longawa @ Photo Session and video was realized exsclusively for JL INTERVIEWS Magazine by Massimo Insabato @ Video post-production by Daniele Flaiban