Maria Elena Capitanio
I was introduced to Maria Elena Capitanio, fashion editor, by a couple of common friends, and was impressed by her energy and professionalism. During our first meeting, in her penthouse with a breath-taking view on Rome’s green hills, she opened her contact book for me and shared some of her career tips.
But I wanted to know more about her, her story, her personal and professional development, her dreams and ambitions, so I asked her some of her time for an interview. She accepted, and I couldn’t wait to meet her again!
During our interview at Ciampini (that is where most of my Roman meetings took place, have a look here), over an iced coffee and an orange juice, I found out that Maria Elena is a confident woman, fascinated by French lifestyle – biking around with a warm baguette in your basket and a beanie on, anyone? – and with a weakness for old-fashioned printed paper in the online-magazines social era.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a woman with a multifaceted personality: some of my character features are good – I’m honest, loyal, consistent – and some of them are evil – I’m provocative, revolutionary, ambitious, competitive. I’ve learnt how to control the evil side of me during the years: my being obsessive and extremely demanding caused me stress and anxiety. I fought with my ghosts and now I’m a better person, more mature and self-confident. This also makes me a definitely better fashion editor.
What is fashion to you?
Fashion is a natural artistic inclination that belongs to the contemporary human being. It’s strongly related to the inner wish to inhabit the world we live in in an assertive and a well-aware way. It’s a way for everyone of us to express themselves.
What is the job description for a fashion editor?
The main task of the fashion editor is to report what they see during fashion shows for their readers: and my personal view is that a knowledgeable fashion editor should be able to describe the social scene trough the commenting on dresses and accessories that they saw on the catwalk. Personally, when I look at a dress, I see an entire world – I guess it depends on my personal experience, the music I listen to, the museums I visit, the food I eat. And then, of course, on my research and studying.
What makes a good fashion editor?
I believe it’s impossible to do things properly without due training and knowledge. None of us was born fashion editor – you might be a gifted writer, or have an unusual sensitivity to fashion, or have a solid cultural background because of your life experience. But this is nothing without the specific competencies you need to develop. The fashion-editor-to-be must study history of fashion, aesthetics, marketing, sociology and must read many books, articles, papers to understand how a written text is structured. Also, they have to be good and sophisticated when doing PR: they should make use of charisma, balance and authenticity.
Have you ever had a mentor in your career?
Not really, and especially not at the beginning of my career. It was painful, I had to learn everything by myself, there was no one sharing their tips with me. Of course, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and yet… when I was offered to work as a tutor at IED, I was flattered and was willing to help young students make their dream come true. When I took the assignment, I told myself I would share my knowledge with my pupils and I would be an unconventional tutor. I was brave and daring, but I feel so lucky today: the warm feedback I get from my amazing students keeps me going and motivates me to do better and better.
What is your dream for the future?
My biggest dream is to keep doing what I’m doing, with the same enthusiasm and passion. I love being a fashion editor, not for the role itself, but for the incentives I’m exposed every single day. I feel alive and lucky to be able to pursue my dream. It’s difficult, sometime stressing, challenging and tiring but I’m born to do this! Moreover, who said that riding the perfect wave in Australia as a surfer is easy?! The hurdle makes it even more exciting!
My advice is to study hard, and to be professional from the very beginning. Keep yourself up-to-date, read good articles, papers, books. Travel the world, eat food from different countries, watch movies, enjoy life. And be patient. Good things happen to who is capable of waiting. In this world, not necessarily the fastest runner wins the race.
Maria Elena’s story is a fantastic source of inspiration for me: she started from zero, with her laptop and her fashion passion, and, step by step, built her career always being faithful to herself. And today she is a young and confident woman, happy and satisfied, who is willing to share her knowledge with her pupils, and to help them become good professionals.
And that is exactly what she did with me, talking to me, explaining how this world works and sharing her precious contacts. This is why she got the Chiara’s Pick. And I learned so much from her. Now I’m willing to do better and better. And I’m looking forward to being able to ride my own Chinese wave!
E’ stato un grande piacere per me conferire il Chiara’s Pick a Maria Elena Capitanio, fashion editor per varie testate giornalistiche italiane, docente di Scrittura di Moda e donna felice e realizzata. La sua determinazione, il suo desiderio di fare sempre di più’ e meglio, la luce nei suoi occhi sono stati per me fonte di ispirazione. Consapevole delle difficoltà legate al suo lavoro, Maria Elena non ha paura di sperimentare e di provocare. D’altra parte, #nopainnogain!
For the chat with Maria Elena Capitanio at Ciampini I was delighted to wear:
White shirt 白衬衫: Max Mara
Grey leggins 打底: COS
Ballerinas 平底鞋: Zara
Earrings 耳饰: Tiffany & Co.
Watch 手表: Casio
Pinkie ring 小指环: designed by Gianni Martinis
Sunglasses 太阳镜: Dior
Yellow (fantastic) bag 包包: Celine
The pink-and-green dotted pen I used to take notes during the interview is from Campo Marzio and it is a present from my dear friend Chiara.
The pictures at Ciampini were taken with my white Sony NEX-5T.
For all the other pictures, special thanks to Maria Elena Capitanio.
Translation by Jasmine Wang.[map id=”82″]