Neorealist Beauty Meets Italian Craftsmanship with 'Il Traffico'

In our newly-minted column on independent brands, our favourite 'Instagram Scouter' Amanda Ballerini talks shoes, cinema and what they represent and eventually become, with independent brand Il Traffico's designer Marco Antonio Marra.

I first discovered Marco Antonio Marra's work some months ago via Instagram. At the time, his page called' Il Traffico' was a project in development, physical pieces about to launch soon. 

"The idea of 'Il Traffico' stems from a deep love for the feminine, real and imaginary characters. With the first debut collection 'Volume I,' I wanted to explore the archetypes of women who are very dear to me. This feeling allows me to recode the past, to read the present in an entirely personal way, without excesses of celebrations, focusing on essentialism that I think this era needs," Marra explains. 

Who are Marra's Il Traffico women? Reflecting on the name of his brand, images of busy women, always-on-the-go, come to mind – but not only that. Il Traffico is also about some kind of state of mind, a movement, on the outside and the inside. A type of restless energy, the lust of life. Coming, going and staying. 

Positively, Marco explains to me how 'il Traffico' refers precisely to that feeling—wanting to appropriate a usually 'bad' name of our daily life and transforming it into something new. "The woman in traffic" refers to a physical condition but above all a mental and intellectual one. "With Traffico I just wanted to raise the theme of 'Normality,' a precarious topic in the world of fashion. I define my creations precisely as 'Normal' or if we want to say it in cinematic terms 'Neorealist,'" the designer states.

Marra's inspiration also mainly comes from Neorealism, the cinematic cultural movement which was rendered public through Rossellini's 'Roma Città Aperta'. 

It is undoubtedly this great passion for cinema and his first introductions to the humanity and drama portrayed by directors such as Fassbinder and Bergman, that initially attracted him to this cultural movement. Further on, the interest in Italian Neorealism of Antonioni, Petri, Pasolini and French Neorealism (Nouvelle Vague) had a powerful influence on his creative process. He lived and studied in Rome and frequently went to arthouse cinemas and visited places where cult films were shot. 

By dealing with the concept of Neorealism, inspiration is found in the most disparate places, the most common, sometimes at home and undoubtedly not canonically beautiful. Situations where a woman can accidentally find herself: a waiting room, a kitchen, a bus stop. There, Marco's eye falls in these completely unexpected daily places.

"With cinema, personalities, their strengths and weaknesses are told. Recovering this approach with the design of the shoe, giving each model its character, was, therefore, a need," he explains.

I first look at shoes in a person. They never lie. Thinking especially of movies, where snapshots sometimes become the true essence of the film, shoes sometimes become the protagonists, as il Traffico's Instagram impeccably shows almost daily, showing fragments of cult movies with a focus on the boots, the fetish object. It is undoubtedly Marra's impeccable feed that leads us to reflect upon today's cultural approach to shopping. Has it become the key to conscious purchases, linking the purpose directly with a feeling, which is precisely the reason why we buy and create objects? 

"I realise that at this historical moment, such an approach is a bit anachronistic, as now the big fashion brands are mostly aiming to create objects of desire with a very very short duration. But from the but in light of what is happening now, I think it is important to bring fashion back to a more cultural dimension. I consider the shoe element an object of great intellectual value because it has marked real decades with spikes, heels and necklines. As you consider me a true nerd of the history of fashion, with Traffico, I would like to follow exactly this aspect, recovering a love for a more cerebral, intimate fashion. Simplifying, where possible."

I could not agree more with Marco's approach and I continue my thought process underlining how the fetish behind shoes goes beyond taste and time. The pump is the object, starting from example from something as simple as the 'tic toc' of heels (both worn by men and women) in movies from some time ago. That sound of the heel against the pavement becomes the soundtrack of a film, the true essence. Today, this pure sound is a bit ignored and overlooked and I think it was the perfect embodiment of the appeal of these 'tools' which protect our feet.

The shoe is indeed seen by the designer as real 'lingerie' on the body, precisely because it must cover the foot and fit perfectly. The sound of heels embraces the sound sphere and draws attention upon arrival. For these reasons, the 'Scarpa' (shoe) object captures my attention more than any other garment. In cinema, these aspects are amplified, expanded in time and space. The healthy fetishism that I have been carrying around since I was a child has led me to imagine this line of shoes that have names of real women, individually feminine and independent, who are part of my life and inspire me with their characters. From this point of view, the step between the designer and director seems very short.

Shoes are also a symbol of waitingAn empty time, bored, excited or tense in which we are put in traction.

"The 'waiting time' is a fundamental element in my creative universe. Something I can not do without and above all something with which we have all made peace in recent times. The ticking of the hands is confused with the ticking of the heels in marking the time, in which a myriad of rational and passionate feelings come together," adds Marco in conclusion to my thoughts.

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