better know as ‘’ Fashion Guru’’ providing designers that are fashion forward in the fashion system.
Text by Jacopo Altobelli
On the top floor of the 18th century silk mill, turned into one of the most important and influential showrooms in the world, first thing he does he scrutinizes me. Mauro Galligari, the founder of Milan’s Studio Zeta, is almost obsessive in his search for details. In his computer, he’s stored thousands of contacts, carefully recorded by name, address, phone number, photographs, comments, links,…anything that may turn out being a source of useful information concerning about everybody: customers, stylists, stores, photographers, and reporters as well. In this immense, lively archive, one may find the true representation of thirty years of outstanding work of a unique fashion guru who never leaves anything to chance.
His work, in fact, is nothing but turning chances into facts, it’s seeing the future before it’s there. And that’s exactly what you see on his monitor: “see, he says, these are the next fall/winter colors; it’s my job to predict what’s gonna be and to let my designers know…one year in advance. I study the fashion trends, all that’s new, experimental; it is my duty to tell what markets want and which way they’re going”.
A word of caution, however: this job, halfway between a salesman and a prophet, can’t be improvised. Galligari, a fashion freak, started very young by meeting emerging stylists in his Florence apartment, near beautiful Piazza della Signoria. Soon he became the liaison between top fashion stores in Tuscany and designers: “it all started as a game, but soon I realized that this was a serious and professionally demanding activity; over time I organized myself and made it my job”
In 1988 came the turning point, as Mauro moved to Milan, where one has to be to go international. Ever since, his showroom got bigger and bigger, as he moved from Via Spartaco, which he shared with a few famous stylists, to Via Friuli 64 and later 26, in the current, amazing 3500 sqm location.
Nowadays Studio Zeta has over 1800 customers all over the world; it boasts a team of 75 stylists, 45 for woman collections and 30 for man ones, fully dedicated to Galligari’s showroom. Every single day, during the hot days of the season collections, dozens of buyers from all over the world come to touch the future.
In Galligari’s showroom you won’t find jeans, nor street style, causal, classic or formal; “Our style – the Florentine manager tells us – is very glamorous, fashionable…and this is our real strength. Over the last thirty years we were able to attract and retain customers because we made them confident that they could find what they were looking for at Studio Zeta. We did so by developing a constantly innovative proposition: it sounds easy, but creating and maintaining a style is a heck of job”.
However, for this constant innovation project to be effective it takes being able to identify the talents and to grow them. “It’s a four-party wedding, Galligari says; you’ve got the creative party, the stylist, the manufacturer, the salesperson and the press office. No set rules as to how this wedding comes about, but any combination is possible. The difficult part is how to understand a stylist is worth betting on: “I can tell by seeing a stylist’s collection, he says, as I know what’s going to be fashionable in the next seasons: that’s how I realize whether the guy can capture future trends and translate them into fashion”.
“You have two kinds of stylists: the outstanding ones and those who may eventually create good collections, but will never be successful. I simply know how to spot the real talents”. There’s experience, innate skill, curiosity; from New York to Tokio, Galligari is always on the move to see, analyze, discover and leave nothing undetected. “That’s what made Studio Zeta great – Galligari points out as he turns his PC off –, the maniacal care for details: our job is like a big puzzle, and all pieces are to smoothly fall into place. It’s no beginners game”