Exclusive Interview with Kimono Designer From Milan, Rossella Molteni

A sophisticated woman in her sixties, who has dedicated her profession to reporting couture for glossy magazines, has now retired from writing. But her unstoppable flair has launched her into a new adventure, as kimono-designer. Rosella Molteni, known as “La Ross” amongst her friends, creates whimsical Nipponic-inspired garments that flatter all kinds of feminine silhouettes.

Unconventional chic is her mantra, that is fully encapsulated in her new-born brand laross which is just over three months old and is already conquering the fascination of Milanese salons.

In this Exclusive Interview Rossella Molteni reveals how this enterprise came about:


What was your background before designing kimonos?

I worked as a journalist in Condé Nast Publications, covering events and fairs, and eventually moved to Arbiter, a glossy newspaper for men’s fashion, and later I wrote for the  women’s magazine Gioia, where I covered news about fashion, traveling the world for about 25 years.

So you’ve always been fond of fashion?

I have always considered myself an “unusual fashionista,” one of my passions is antique jewelry and as for clothes I wasn’t particularly fond of photoshoots in the conventional fashion cities. My travel destinations were in places where I could immerse myself in nature, such as Patagonia, Iceland, the Lofoten Islands, Lapland, Yukon, Zambia, South Africa, Thailand. I started to design my clothes because I wanted to instill my personal style, distinguished by elegance, simplicity and functionality.

Why kimonos?

I love Japan, especially this garment. My silk velvet kimonos can be worn like a gown. I do not like the constrictions and limitations given by buttons, zippers or laces. I like the piece of clothing to flow freely, with the exception of a belt to embrace the waist. Actually, I often don’t even use that. I really liked the way Grace Kelly used to bring together the lapels of her coat. My approach to kimonos is similar, the concept is that of the caftan.

When did you make your first kimono and what was the occasion that inspired you?

I made my first kimono about four years ago. I had some vintage kimonos but I wanted one that I could use more like a vest, with a fabric that would be silk velvet, since I love that texture. I wanted it to be just as soft as the silk kimonos I had, but warmer and with an urban edge to it.


What is your relationship with Japan?

One of my dearest friends is Japanese and I will go to Japan for the first time to visit her, next autumn. I have always been fascinated by Japan’s culture and people. The Japanese street fashion that originated in the 1970s, known as Gyaru, was very popular. But as a Western I’m more fascinated by the traditions of this country, although I’m very fond of the cutting-edge style by Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake, who have undoubtably marked the history of fashion.

How do you provide a Western and Modern twist to your kimonos?

They are very versatile, since they can vary from simpler designs to more elaborate ones that can also be used as gala outfits. I tend to always use silk, because the garment must flow and create a gentle and chic movement. My clothes can be worn throughout the day, and they adapt easily for any kind of occasion with a simple change of accessories. My black caftan, for example, can be worn at the office and can easily become the perfect evening outfit. Furthermore kimonos are very practical for traveling, since they fold easily and take up very little space in a small carry-on suitcase.


What kind of women wear your pieces?

Rossella Molteni, they are for all kinds of women. I was so pleased when I saw that two of my velvet kimonos were worn by a beautiful skinny 30-year-old American girl and a Milanese curvy, lady over 60. This garment is suitable for any generation and stands the test of time, remaining a one-of-a-kind piece in a woman’s wardrobe