I have been thinking a lot in recent years about how my life will continue. What truly interests me? What is more than just any new project? What truly moves me? What is close to my heart? I searched for new adven-tures but also for something through which I can give back. I searched for what has influenced me and my inner compass the most – in my ca-reer, but also personally. My thoughts always landed on Italy. Since my childhood, I have been fascinated by Italy. Its history, joy of life, sense of family, aesthetic sensibility, rich history, architecture – the beauty of an entire country and its people. The generous soul of Italy. I think of family vacations in Sardinia, how Florence or Rome filled me with admiration and awe when I roamed their streets as a child for the first time. An admi-ration that only grew and turned into deep appreciation.
As I grew older, as my understanding of culture, aesthetics and life itself grew, I admired more and more the people that the country has produced. I have always loved fashion, which is why I was fascinated early on by people like Giorgio Armani, who united style and humanity. I admired them for their heart and courage. Italy was not just a vacation in another country for me, but also a vacation in my mind and spirit. Even in my youth, I felt the societal rigidity of my home country. You were either cool or uncool. You either listened to NWA or Kraftwerk and were in the know, or you had no clue and listened to sentimental schlager or pop. In Italy, you could listen to what you like and not be judged for it. Listening to Italo pop by Gianna Naninni or Rage Against the Machine was not a con-tradiction; it was different facets of being human. As a German teenager, I had to secretly listen to Mariah Carey. Italians could follow their hearts. That was one reason why I fell in love with Italy –Germany lacked what Italy seemed to have in abundance and generously shared with the world.
However, the beauty and history of Italy and its cities are not only a blessing, but also a burden. The stronger the identity, the more you know who you are, the more difficult it is to evolve. Why should you? Something that is already perfect does not get changed. Italian food is the best in the world, but its purism leaves little room for development. The big Italian fashion brands and magazines ultimately all use the same pho-tographers. Great international names that provide security, but do not add anything to Italian individualism. Even what we all love about Italy must undergo development and needs to be innovated. The dolce vita of the 60s is different from that of the 80s or 90s. There were new artists, new films, different music. But at some point, the clock seems to have stopped. The desire to preserve has turned into formulas. And formulas often be-come a corset for a young generation that longs for more, that feels that Italy is in a beauty sleep and missing out on the future while the world is rapidly changing. There are more and more young creatives in Italy, young talents who have developed new images, words, designs for Italy in the 21st century, yet they lack a platform. Their work is unmistakably Italian, but in a new, innovative way. And I am noticing more and more of them. Even a less developed fashion country like Germany now has magazines like 032c or Numéro Berlin that anchor German aesthetics to an international discourse and shape it. France and England have it any-way. In Italy, there are a few young magazines as well, but they struggle to break out of a niche. Few magazines have influenced me as much as Italian Vogue under Franca Sozzani and L’Uomo Vogue in the 80s and 90s. They shaped my worldview. Through them, Italy spread this uniquely ca-sual elegance, established this studied nonchalance as an ideal in men’s fashion. Sprezzatura forever. But it’s not that simple: Gender images have become more diverse, the industry and aesthetic horizons more global, the cultural influences more varied and complex.
That’s why I founded this magazine out of my deep love for this coun-try. Our heartfelt desire is to unite old and new Italy. Resolve apparent contradictions, inspire. Transfer the deep sense of aesthetics into the present. Standing on the shoulders of giants, the outlook, overview and foresight of the younger generation should be at the forefront. Why not nurture the young generation and see them as an enrichment, instead of betraying them to an international fashion elite that is not about creativ-ity, but safety? If no innovations are allowed, tradition becomes a cliché. The beginning of the end of relevance.
Another inspiration for XYZ is a personal connection: I have rarely experienced a more relaxed, harmonious exchange than with Mirko Borsche, for me, one of the best art directors in the world. Through our collaboration on Numéro Berlin, I gained deeper insights into his oth-er projects – including numerous ones for Italian clients. Many of these projects already contained an approach that I also see for XYZ: transfer-ring Italian tradition into the new millennium. Mirko designs for young, extremely successful brands like Palm Angels among other established fashion houses, whose cool, creative vision merges Italian pop appeal with a global, contemporary zeitgeist, and is one of the rare Italian cre-ations that are enormously successful internationally. The same applies to football jerseys for clubs like Inter Milan and FC Venezia, which Mirko also designed. Football is another one of those traditions celebrated in It-aly with passion like no other country. Even Dr. Benjamin Brudler, who comes from a financial back-ground rather than a creative one, was immediately enthusiastic when I told him about the idea of founding a magazine for Italy that wants to cel-ebrate this country with the utmost respect, deep admiration, and love for tradition while also spreading visions for the future. The wonderful team at JB Media in Milan was also immediately thrilled when I told them about it. Furthermore, I would like to thank my team in Berlin and the wonder-ful new team in Milan. Without them, this would not have been possible. They and all the other friends and partners I spoke to in Italy confirmed to me: Italy needs a new voice that reflects the diversity of its culture – from new streetwear movements in Naples to Maurizio Cattelan’s Italian hu-mor and artistic acumen to icons like Cicciolina, whose fearless, flamboy-ant personality is as much a part of Italy as the Colosseum is of Rome. In our team, we combine an international and Italian perspec-tive. We are all united by our love for this country, our love for creativity. And through the first issue, we have felt how worthwhile it is and how rich the stories we can tell are. I haven’t felt this intensely for a long time, what originally drove me to work creatively: the magic of creating something new, dreaming together, bringing people together, supporting and nurturing a community of talents. Giving a voice to people who have something to say that enriches us all and gives us hope. Or, rather, the cer-tainty that Italy is not just a museum, but one of the most vibrant cultures in the world that can give us more than ever before in uncertain times.
This magazine is simply a love letter to Italy.