"the theo is strong with this one"

Fashionable: strong women, Italian beaches and tanning bed goggles

The surrealist banality of Gennaro Genni Velotti


This week is abuzz with excitement, energy and activity in the neighbourhood of the world-famous Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. The reason? “Le Moment Suprême” is upon us: the annual student runway presentation - SHOW2018 - is waiting impatiently in the wings and ready to go.

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theo is a part of all this excitement because – just like every year – we offer a helping design-hand. The Master students are asked to present a coherent collection of clothing and accessories on the runway that shows off what they can do and says something about who they are. And of course, eyewear is a part of that…

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And that's certainly the case for Gennaro Genni Velotti. An Italian through-and-through, this Academy student hails from Naples, where pizza, mama and beach life are the main compass points in life. Not the chic, mondaine beach scene of the Rivieras, but the surrealist banality of colourful lounge chairs, cavorting children and weather-beaten buoys. Where squawking women in yellow straw hats and loud sunglasses, with milk-white tan-lines are just as ubiquitous as miniature figurines of the Pope.

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Gennaro says: “That personal angle was really important for me in this collection. Something I could believe in! Napoli was an important starting point,” he continues. “It provided me with many elements that helped construct the entire collection.” He refers to the photos by the famous British photographer Martin Parr, who has captured memorable photos of men and women in their daily lives. “That surrealism of the ordinary is what appeals to me. Often these photos show an aspect of beach life, which is familiar to me because my family has a beach related business. My mother has a beauty salon and my brothers and sisters have a tanning studio. That's why I started thinking about tanning bed goggles. The idea of making something beautiful out of such a simple thing, but to bring it to a higher level by using iconic acetate - imitation tortoiseshell, for example - in contrast with refined steel... That appealed to me”.

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Soon, the catwalk in Antwerp will briefly be transformed into an Italian beach, with the spotlights the sun. In bocca al lupo, break a leg, best of luck!