Gianluca Gualandi

Words Alessandra Albarello


From Paris, the designer and founder of the brand talks about the new men's collection 110 'Americani', inspired by 1950s Rome mood. And about his passion for cooking...

How was the Talla brand born?
I've been an optician since 1987. I opened two optical stores. one in 1989 and one in 2005, while in 2000 | started a concept store for eyewear and niche accessories. I'd always thought there was a gap in the market for men's eyewear, so in 2016 I decided to explore another side of the optical industry and indulged my dream of launching my own collection. Ever since, I've been 'dressing' people's faces, drawing on my skills as an optician and transferring that passion into my creations. My life experience and passions are what ignites the spark that guides me through the creative process.

Starting with the name, this collection says a lot about you... Tell us what's new.
For my new collection I was inspired  by fifties Rome, the city where American actors used to go to shoot their films... That magical encounter between the USA and Italy was the starting point for Talla's new 'Americani' collection. On the one hand there's Hollywood glamour, on the other there's Italian nonchalance, what we call 'sprezzatura'. Despite being thousands of kilometers distant, these two icons of male elegance have finally come together. The contact with Italian fashion softens the silhouette of the American cowboy. However, at the same time Italian fashion worn by the international names of the period becomes more precise and identifiable. This crossover between Hollywood and fifties Italy creates a new concept of elegance: the 'Americani' frame for spectacles and sunglasses designed specifically for this occasion.

We are curious: why were you known as Talla in your Italian town of origin Bologna?
Talla [which comes from the Italian word 'palla' or 'ball'] is a nickname I was given in my home town of Bologna. My football teammates used to call me that even as a kid! Many years have passed since then, but the nickname has stuck, so much so that this year I had the idea of designing a vintage-style display stand with a leather football as a totem. 

So, there's a touch of the dandy, a vintage feel to your creations. Is this true? 
Absolutely right. In fact, I like to define Talla as 'contemporary vintage'. I'm really inspired by that idea of 'sprezzatura' - an elaborate style that seemingly requires no effort. At first glance, it appears that the models are only posed for aesthetic effect. but when you look more closely you can see all the sophistication that goes into it.

A hedonist who loves details and quality accessories. What are the latest must-haves to be truly elegant?
Personally, I think must-haves are ephemeral... In my opinion, to be truly elegant you have to be open-minded and take inspiration from everything around you. I love creating collections you never get tired of. Being elegant means paying attention to detail and finding a balance between form and colour whilst staying true to your identity. Being elegant is about refinement. And that's what I love the most.

You're Italian, but have lived in Paris for many years. Where do you draw your inspiration from? How important are your roots?
Wherever I am in the world, I'm always inspired by my Italian origins! They're part of my soul, part of my DNA. But I also think I'm influenced by the different cultures around me. There are no watertight compartments, you could say.

You have a passion for cooking. Is there any similarity between preparing a meal and designing a pair of sunglasses? And what would your favourite ingredients be for eyewear?
For me, cooking is an important part of my life. Being free to create a delicious meal develops my imagination, it's like producing a work of art. Every detail becomes important. My favourite 'ingredients' for eyewear would range from high-density acetate, which is robust and lightweight, to hardwearing steel or titanium, sometimes mellowed by leather inserts.

And what is your favourite dish?
I love cooking and eating simple foods. A nice baked fish, thinly-sliced raw fennel and pasta al dente... Bolognese-style, of course.

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