INTERVIEW OF NICCOLÒ MONTANARI
THE RENAISSANCE OF THE BERLIN FASHION INDUSTRY
by Elisabeth Labelle
With a fascinating art scene and an outstanding nightlife, Berlin is said to be young, alive and inventive. Indeed, the capital city of Germany is a place where people are encouraged to find innovative ideas beyond artistic restrictions. This creative freedom is compelling to many people such as Niccolò Montanari, a fashion entrepreneur who designed his new life in Berlin. While Montanari was studying and working in the UK, he slowly developed a desire for radical change. “If you’re not happy about something in your life, change it, and the rest will follow.” And what followed his arrival in Germany is the creation of a widely acclaimed fashion film festival.
Co-founded in 2012 by Lisa Filipini, Frank Funke and Montanari, the Berlin fashion Film Festival (BfFF) is a curated event aiming to provide high quality fashion film content from all over the world. Once a year, during the Berlin Fashion Week in July, the BfFF organizes a variety of public screenings, an award show and a closing party. Being a reference for professionals from the advertising, film and fashion industries, the award show highlights the talent of international artists in categories such as Best Music, Best Makeup and Best Editing.
With more than 500 submissions from 38 countries last year, it becomes clear that Montanari is more than a local entrepreneur. Both his background in public relations and event planning helped him while building a platform for young creatives to experiment with a new medium. “That’s one of the good things about Berlin: meeting new people, and making new things happen.”
When he moved to Germany back in 2009, Montanari was indeed looking for novelty. The Italian born entrepreneur never had the fashion industry in mind when it came to envision his future career. “I studied at Goldsmiths University of London, so I was pretty comfortable working in the arts. I just never considered fashion as a possibility.”
However, less than a year after leaving the UK, he co-founded FIER Management with Filipini. Since 2010, the Berlin organization works with emerging designers on PR events to promote their work such as openings, fashion shows and parties.
The agency also has a showroom where they welcome buyers in order to push sales and maintain the profitability of up-and-coming labels. “The truth is that designers are creatives, but they need to sell if they want to keep channeling their creativity,” said the entrepreneur. Despite a great deal of talent, the lack of management skills is likely to cause the collapse of their clothing line. Montanari, a fashion industry newbie at the time, grasped this idea fairly quickly. “The more I learned about the industry the more I understood the constant struggle between its creative core and the business outer shell that supports it. And it fascinated me.”
With the creation of FIER Management and the Berlin fashion Film Festival, the constant preoccupation of Montanari for the success of new talents allowed the city to shine on a local and international scale. Five years later, the entrepreneur is proud of his accomplishments as he built both organizations out of nothing. Looking ahead, Montanari knows more than ever how to keep things interesting in Berlin with the support of like-minded individuals. “Creative, independent, and caring: yes. Old fashioned? Never.”