How Giuliano Calza Created A Fanta-Sea Oasis for GCDS’ SS22 Collection

The creative director of the streetwear powerhouse speaks candidly about the true meaning behind the aquatic-themed lineup and the future of fashion shows.

Having created one of Italy’s most talked about streetwear brands, Giuliano Calza is used to having all eyes on him. Having launched his label GCDS (which stands for God Can’t Destroy Streetwear) back in 2015, the Naples native quickly grew a steady global fan base with the help of logo emblazoned pieces and ultra-glam, re-fashioned closet staples—attracting the attention of flashy clientele from the likes of Dua Lipa to Chiara Ferragni to Pamela Anderson. Fast forward six years later, we’re met with the fashion house’s latest spring/summer collection. Aptly titled “Island Appropriate”, the new collection sees age-old Southern Italian myths come to life through Calza’s imaginative spirit and high-fashion lens. 

Giuliano Calza of GCDS

Since the pandemic, the creative director has not only been able to deliver stellar ready-to-wear collections with a playfully modern approach, but Calza has also managed to challenge the idea of how a brand can introduce its latest offerings to the world. Having accumulated over 1 million views for his FW21/22 collection, presented in the form of a trippy fashion film, the pressure was on to top himself—which he most certainly has. Taking the viewer along for an aquatic adventure from the sultry desert to an under-the-sea paradise, the film delivers the ultimate beach vibes with a yearning for a bright tomorrow.

Below, discover a Q+A with V’s Kevin Ponce where the creative director dives deep into the details of his latest assemblage. 

Kevin Ponce: We were surprised to hear that this season’s show would be another digital presentation—are you getting more inspired and creatively fueled to produce runway fashion films as opposed to the traditional live viewings?

Giuliano Calza: I don’t mind both but, of course, I can’t wait to go back to the adrenaline of a real show. A fashion film can create fashion scenes in an easier way—even just a few changes to the lighting can help make a dress come alive. I love experimenting, but I love a good get-together backstage at a show, too!

Courtesy of GCDS

KP: Do you think the format of standard collection runway shows is becoming outdated or is there still a chance to create something unique for audiences in that format?

GC: I feel like the attendance at a runway show is very limited, compared to the audience of the web. They are two completely different forms of entertainment. I look at a live runway show as theatre, while a taped show is like cinema so of course, it’s easier to play a few tricks. I feel like my experience with CGI is something really futuristic and I might come back to this format—working on it just blew my mind and made me think of endless possibilities and ideas.

KP: Being that the show was based on old Southern Italy stories with mythical creatures, what prompted you to create a collection around this memory you had?

GC: I used to go on summer vacation every year in a place where many stories were told about the Leucosia mermaid and that the island was her shelter. Everything felt so tangible and believable. I still feel the same emotion thinking of it, like a child waiting for something mysterious to happen at night. I want to believe in magic. It is what inspires me the most. I want to think of a mermaid with no tail but with eyes that speak their magic. That’s where my girls and boys on the runway come from.

Courtesy of GCDS

KP: Are there any direct references to any of the old myths or creatures? 

GC: Yeah, this place actually exists! In fact, it is said that the island of Punta Licosa was formed from the body of a mermaid who killed herself for love by jumping off a cliff. Imagine how fascinating it was, being one of those “Stranger Things” kids growing up in a place like that, summer after summer. 

KP: You’ve also brought along our contributing V fashion superstar Anna Trevelyan to style the show—what is it about Anna and her creativity that helps you bring your vision to life?

GC: Anna is a fantasy herself—she always gets it and also taught me the idea of creating a fantasy where people can step in. Everyday clothes can turn into a fantasy for the youth, [in a way] that can also [make them] believe in magic and surreal landscapes.

Courtesy of GCDS

KP: If you had to pick one favorite look or piece from the collection, what would that be?

GC: The Sita [Abellán] look! I designed it [while] having her on my mind and it ended up just being 100% hers. The teardrop crystals and the washed organza [felt] very much like a mermaid’s tail. 

KP: We see a journey being made from the hot, humid desert to an aquatic, dreamlike paradise—what exactly IS paradise in your eyes? 

GC: I always feel like I’d love to stay on an island where I’m completely dehydrated and then the island fruit kicks in and turns into a surreal and non-tangible world. At this point in history, I’d even love to be allowed to fly back to China or Japan—I’d be ok with this [form of] paradise too.

Courtesy of GCDS

KP: There’s also a small injection of Spanish talent in this show—what prompted you to include some of the country’s superstars?

GC: I thought this could’ve been my way of doing a [fashion] show. Last year in London, [it was] with my British friends, [and] this year with my Spanish friends. [It’s] something like a modern circus. 

KP: We’ve noticed the “Made In Italy” imprint on several pieces—how do you think this collection speaks to the wonder and aesthetic of Italy?

GC: I think when you look at the details of it, it’s quite amazing. I don’t think there’s much of a “classic” Made In Italy [look]. I think it’s Giuliano—an Italian boy, looking at the world. 

KP: It’s fun, playful, effervescent—do you think this collection signifies what fashion means in Italy?

GC: I think it’s what I’d pack in my luggage, flying to a crazy trip to Asia or for a premiere in the US. For me, fashion has always been fun—a celebration [with lots of] enjoyment. It is part of this ‘dolce vita’ where you have to glam up and go out. If my friends would go to Capri Island today, those [pieces] would be quite an accurate look for [our] summer. 

Discover the full fashion film below!

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