A few months ago, the Principality of Monaco was awaiting its yearly rendez-vous with the latest fashion collections from around the world hosted by the Monte-Carlo Fashion Week (MCFW). But with all that was happening around the world, its founder, Federica Nardoni Spinetta, remained determined on finding a new look for her fashion fiesta. Instead of the glitzy catwalks, models rushing backstage and front-seated VIPs, she employed social media and hosted talks with experts about the next chapter of fashion, and the importance of a sustainable tomorrow.

A few days after the finale of her MCFW, we sat down with Federica to talk about the business of fashion.

Federica, you are a fashion authority here in Monaco. Please tell us more about your background.

I am Italian and was raised in Milan. I graduated in Economics and Finance from Bocconi University and then started my career working for KPMG. I first came to Monaco for my job at an oil company and decided to live in this wonderful country. Here I founded my family and my own brand, Beach & Cashmere Monaco.

For me living in a country means taking active part of its economic life, and so in 2008, I became part of the Board of MEB (Monaco Economic Board) and a member of the Business Women in Monaco (AFCEM). In 2009, along with three Monegasque brands: Banana Moon, Elizabeth Wessel and Beach & Cashmere Monaco, we created the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode which is the Fashion Council of the Principality of Monaco.

How did the Monte-Carlo Fashion Week idea come together?

Just after the creation of the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode (CMM) in 2009 we had started federating Monegasque fashion brands and organising fashion shows in Monaco and abroad. The CMM has a double purpose: on one side it represents and spreads the values of local fashion designers and promotes the Made-in-Monaco creativity internationally, and on the other, it projects the Principality as a key market to worldwide fashion.

So we decided to launch the Monte-Carlo Fashion Week (MCFW), under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco, and with the support of the Government, the National Council, the City Hall and the Tourism Office of Monaco.

MCFW hence became a lavish calendar of international fashion shows and presentations. For instance, we had 16 participating brands in our first edition back in 2013, and last year, we welcomed 40 brands from 15 countries throughout a five-day event.

This Spring/Summer season, many international fashion weeks took place online. How did MCFW go this year? And was the digital edition as successful as the “offline” ones?

It has been an extraordinary week which allowed us to travel virtually all around the world: from the United States to Dubai, from Thailand to Italy to Monaco through the “2020 MCFW A Conversation With Series” – a set of interactive digital live talks with the protagonists of the international fashion scene.

Our sustainability contest included brands from 17 countries, from Europe, to Asia, Africa and the Americas. Each of which has enclosed its essence and its innovative vision in a video shot during lockdown or in the post lockdown days, and that was published on the social medias of MCFW. Some key speakers were Pauline Ducruet, daughter of H.S.H Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, and founder of the genderless brand Alter, interviewed by Sara Maino, Head of Vogue Talents and Deputy Director of Vogue Italia. Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger connected live from the United States and were interviewed by Victoria Silvstedt. And myself orchestrated other talks with key figures of contemporary fashion designers, artists and models.

Our sustainable award was won by the brand Desserto from Mexico for their vegan leather produced from cactus.

This digital edition was a very successful one. For sure it was different from the “offline” editions, but very interesting and with a strong message.

 

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Your very own brand, Beach & Cashmere Monaco, carries an environmental message. Why were you keen on establishing such a label?

I have always loved fashion. Ever since I was a young girl I would draw sketches and have them made. I also used to paint on clothes. This persisting passion inspired me to create and launch my own brand: Beach & Cashmere Monaco.

For many years now, I create and produce sustainable collections. The first was the “Save the Ocean”, followed by the “No Waste” and “Save the Nature” collections. My latest release “Under Full Sails”, which I just launched through the MCFW Digital Edition 2020, is entirely made out of up-cycled sails in collaboration with the Classe Smeralda of the Yacht Club of Monaco.

 

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Since you are an active advocate of sustainable fashion, do you believe couture and luxury brands will be able to easily adapt their production process?

We owe it to our planet and ourselves to act in a more eco-friendly manner. I am convinced that brands will be able to employ this strategy in the near future.

One of the main goals of the Monte-Carlo Fashion Week is to focus on sustainable and ethical fashion and to help raise awareness about the importance of protecting our planet, its people and creatures, following the guidelines of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.

For instance, in 2016, the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode launched the Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Award to honour a brand that plays an active role in encouraging positive change, supporting sustainability and promoting a cleaner world, through producing high-quality and eco-friendly garments.

Finally, how do you see the future of fashion after COVID-19?

The fashion wheel will definitely not stop, but we will have to reset and re-think how to do fashion. By that I mean to produce better, less and maybe at a slower pace, and most importantly more sustainable. Yes, all together we can be more sustainable!

My message is never give up; we will grow stronger and greener! #sustainabletogether

Interviewed by Victor Gee