DANIELA RAVAIOLI - ART DIRECTOR
35 years of never betraying our identity, of continuous success. With passion, with courage, with the strength to decide what will be new. Daniela Ravaioli, the soul of Radà, has built a brand as an extension of her personality. She has left a powerful mark on the world of jewellery and she has created a company that holds its own, maintaining a clear identity whilst still reacting to our changing world with an authentic entrepreneurial spirit. Headquarters in Forlì. Conversion from an artisan company to a production set up which creates collections at the same pace as the fashion world. An ability to internationalise, and still maintain the quality of the pieces produced. Evolving from fairs to a Business 3.0.In addition to the key stages of success of the company, there was an important encounter, one with Muriel Grateau, Creative Director of Complice and Daniela’s inspirational muse: “She taught me to see pearls with a fresh, contemporary eye and, most importantly, gave me the power of foresight, according to which objects ignored in the present will become essential items in the near future”. From that moment on, a love of pearls became a stronghold for Radà, a kind of primary element to be considered at all times. This Italian company features unique creativity which has become an entrepreneurial success. Known in Japan as a designer label, Radà’s products are sold by premium stores around the world such as Barneys, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, L'Eclaireur, Browns, Joyce, 10 corso Como (Seul), Galeries Lafayette (Paris, Dubai), Isetan (Tokyo), Luisa Via Roma. Able to self-finance its growth by evolving gradually over the years, this small set up in Forlì has developed a creative-industrial business model with the manual skills of embroiderers and assemblers at one end and a production/sales set up typical of a modern company at the other. Creativity always flows along the same path as business development. Radà’s excursus is fascinating, and very similar to its founder’s effusive, determined nature. Daniela Ravaioli has always had an authentic passion for women and their expressive codes, studying them as an almost anthropological observer: “I’ve always observed, taking in the delicate refinement of oriental women and eye-catching ostentation of the Russians, and tried to metabolise how they wore things and what alchemy they were proposing them with.” Daniela’s observation of the world became the filter through which Radà focusses its assembly of materials based on the retina of taste. An iron determination to “become famous” which a tiny four year old Daniela announced upon entering the kitchen of the large rural house in which she lived with her parents, became the opening words to the rest of her life. “I have always taken action following Daniela,” she often says. And this “following Daniela” has led her on a creative historical detour lasting years, based on inspiration, research and technical expertise. Yes indeed, because knowing how to create means “mastering materials”, and Daniela has had a close relationship with materials since the very beginning, in her mother’s large kitchen, turning those very first pheasant feathers into earrings to sell the following day to prestigious shops such as Parisotto, in Bologna. Her original, nonconformist boutades that give a profoundly decorative meaning to a fashion accessory immediately became popular. Initially intuitive and then, over the years based on an in-depth study of materials and an ability to anticipate what the course and recourse of buyers’ taste would be. The first few years flowed through evenings and nights, during which her hands both assembled and took the pieces she made to the most prestigious boutiques in Bologna. Initially, Daniela Ravaioli’s accessories were created through her intuition, using items such as feathers, fur, shells stolen from nature and translated into the language of glamour through the sharp, curious sensitivity with which she anticipates the times. Daniela Ravaioli’s Radà was founded in 1982 However, it was only at the first French fair at the Hyppodrome a few years later that the small artisan set up turned into BSR and massively accelerated its turnover and fame. The company has a creative heart and the ability to both plan and develop which are in perfect harmony with the codes of its artistic DNA. From the first collection to world expansion “Research is everything, but also technical expertise, a knowledge of materials that cannot be left aside”. Daniela Ravaioli learned the craft of melting metals, then assembling them to turn them into something new and original. Every Monday to Thursday she was in Florence at the workshop, amidst the workers, obsidian flame in hand. She explored techniques for processing glass, learned how to make vases, arrange stones and paint with gold. The very first samples were forged by Daniela herself, manually. Meanwhile, consultations arrived for Complice, Genny, Lacroix. Iconic pieces for the runways were entrusted to Daniela, her skilled hands and inspiration. Large boules, minaret earrings, wicker bangles, unique pieces the inspirational substance of which can still be found today, spread all over the style offices of international brands. In the 80’s, the brand incorporated the punk influence with pieces in metal sprayed with paint and rubber. Then things changed and the company was permeated by Jean Paul Gaultier and the New Romantic current: Radà’s mink tails were featured in Harper’s Bazaar, its fur pom poms became cult pieces, on a par with its wicker bangles. After a fair at the Hyppodrome in Paris, Radà became BSR and was launched on the international market. Radà has become particularly popular in Japan, in view of the country’s endemic passion for pearls worn the Radà way: assembled with crystals and chains, dismantled from their classical framework and restructured in a modern, unusual, unique way. Time travel. The flow of the decades of the twentieth century remains essential for the founder of Radà. Daniela always has very clear ideas about trends, something which has been proven time again, like the time she bought an eighteenth century dress in red tulle with a layered hem in a flea market in London, which would become her wedding dress years later.Then, in 2002 her passion for embroidery took over and the assembly technique changed. “I’m incredibly curious and find that there is always something new to learn and discover. Where one world closes, another opens up. I always look ahead, I don’t keep any archives of my collections because I’m not one for looking back.” This technical innovation matched her creative fervour which ferried the company through new milenniun and that Daniela still uses today to create, trying to develop new ideas at all times. Today Radà is a brand known worldwide. Market leader in Japan, the company has also established itself in top boutiques, and with both Italian and international multi-brands. The company has developed its tools for distribution in parallel with technological changes. It now has a professional external press office, and its work has been flanked and structured by a digital strategist for the past couple of years. Radà is also on Instagram and Facebook, and the e-commerce side of the business is currently being developed, too. For the past three years, Radà has been moving with the same logic as the world of fashion, doing so with previews and cruise collections, in line with the demands of consumers who want something new and fresh, regardless of accepted seasonality. We could describe it as an artisan industry as each piece is handmade, but the concept of the collections follows an industrial plan, working with delivery times and planned manufacturing. Boldness is part of Radà’s genetic code. Combined with technical expertise, a knowledge of the history of fashion and custom, a spirit of observation and exceptional entrepreneurial skill. Since the very first collection, imbued with a Byzantine flavour and inspired by the mosaics in Ravenna, the Radà tendency to break through the barriers of the obvious in order to mix together apparently antithetical codes has never ceased. Creativity has become a business which has developed by means of skilled hands to reach the 3.0 world.