Document asks designers about the pre-show rites and rituals that make the moments leading up to the first look ever so bearable.

From the moment you are welcomed into Via Mascagni, the former aristocratic residence that serves as the center of operations for Erika Cavallini, one quickly senses the impassioned vibration of team that works from the heart. Document visited the day before Cavallini revealed her Fall 2018 collection in Milan, entitled “Misery and Nobility,” a love-worn line up where pieces boasted sleeves shredded from the seams, bared intimates (stockings and lace bracelets) and traditional interior finishings like a khaki silk satin repurposed as a sort of patchwork on a coat sleeve. Like love, it didn’t quite make sense, but it was a beautiful thing to behold, no matter. While her gently-spoken team worked quietly around her, each sporting a team t-shirt (for added esprit de corps), Cavallini revealed to us the simple rituals she follows before any show—family dinner, preparing her own make-up—and the one item she must always have on hand when it finally begins. 

DocumentHow has your morning been the day before the show?

Erika CavalliniI didn’t sleep much. I woke up at 7:30am, did my classic morning routine, had breakfast here at the studio and then went straight into fittings.

DocumentWhat time did you get to sleep last night?

ErikaI would have liked to have slept earlier! I had to answer questions from my team about locations and fittings, so it was about midnight. Then I woke up at 3am. Then 5am.

Document—How are you feeling emotionally?

ErikaEach time I do this, I feel I should learn the lesson and be prepared for how it’s going to go but no, it doesn’t happen! It’s like being at school, taking an exam, every time.

Document—Where is your creative focus right now?

Erika—When I get to this point, I almost don’t remember about the clothes. It’s more about the message that I want to bring across through the collection. The clothes are ready. They are done, so what is important is the story that I am going to create and the woman, the Erika Cavallini woman, because she has a strong identity. So, it’s more about the story-telling taking place on the catwalk. And, at this point, that is more important than showing the garment.

Document—Do you have any rituals that you practice to keep calm the night before?

Erika—Usually we have dinner here, always at the studio. My kids, my staff, the whole team. We do it because we work so late during show time but also I like the intimacy and keeping the team together. Every season we have a different ‘team t-shirt’ also. Last season was ‘Cavallini Team’. It keeps the team spirit going which is very important. It’s quite lighthearted. It takes tension off the process. Also, on the day of the show, after all the fittings, I’ll take a break, wash my hair, do my own hair and make-up. That’s my ritual as well.

Document—Do you have anything you like to keep with you for good luck?

Erika—A letter from someone very important to me. It brings me luck only during show time. I keep it in my bag, always.

Document—What is the first thing you do when the journalists and models and agents leave you backstage after the show?

Erika—I go to him, the person who wrote the letter. The first thing is to go to him and give him a hug. In the world of fashion, it’s a beautiful system, but it really consumes you. So when you finish an event with such strong emotions, all you need is a big hug. The most simple thing in the world—and suddenly everything becomes okay.

View Slideshow