Hard work and being true to yourself are the perfect match for making dreams come true. So there is a secret in Christian Boaro’s path.
The 'In conversation with' event with guest Christian Boaro, CHB brand founder and Istituto Marangoni alumnus
There are ground-breaking fashion designers who hurry to skip steps, and then innovative creatives who take over the fashion-sphere one collection at a time. One of the latest avant-garde talented creatives is Christian Boaro. He had a chat with us, sitting in one of the classes where everything began.
Born in Bassano del Grappa in 1981, Christian Boaro’s fascination with fashion began as a child following his grandmother, a dressmaker who first taught him the fundamentals of tailoring. Then Boaro’s moved to Milan, where he graduated with honours in Fashion Design from Istituto Marangoni in 2004. In the same year, he took part in the ITS international competition for young talent as the only Italian finalist, getting in the spotlight of industry insiders.
CHB autumn-winter 2022 collection
As Christian Boaro told us, Marangoni had been his starting point, the place where he learned skills by observing and copying everyone around him, from the older students to the teachers who are still his mentors.
Christian Boaro with an Istituto Marangoni teacher who is still his mentor
Of course, Boaro is one of the trailblazing designers experimenting with silhouettes and our perceived notions of fashion, yet a hard worker and a genuine person. He founded his CHB brand in October 2020 in a constant search for the duality between the male and female wardrobe, rooted in the contrast of strength and fragility.
Looks from CHB spring-summer 2022 collection
In 2022 and after two years, he managed to gain plenty of visibility while still staying grounded and curious about the years to come.
Students attending Istituto Marangoni's "In conversation with" event with designer Christian Boaro
How did you end up as a fashion designer?
The desire to be a designer was born in me; I have been interested in this world since childhood. I was always drawing in my notebook during school hours and creating my own world to be in. My grandmother helped me a lot; she taught me to sew, so I started thinking this could be my future. Since I had always been passionate about creating things by hand, I decided to enrol in a vocational school. Those five years were such an eye-opener that I decided to move to Milan and go to Istituto Marangoni, where I always felt I belonged.
Looks from CHB autumn-winter 2021 collection
Tell us about your years at Istituto Marangoni…
I learnt how to share ideas and observe other people’s work; I remember those years as blissful. They gave me a strong awareness and proved that fashion truly belongs to me. Since I come from a small town in Veneto, Milan was a dream and an exciting new experience. This school helped me meet people, discover different styles and cultures, make friends with them and expand my contact network. Istituto Marangoni Alumni are still part of my life today.
Looks from Christian Boaro's CHB spring-summer 22 collection
What about your experience in fashion?
I was lucky enough to have many experiences – thank God! My very first one was at Versace during my last year at Istituto Marangoni; I worked for the Venus womenswear when Versace was still producing that line. That year was demanding but rewarding: I would go to classes, have a quick lunch and work late into the night. However, this routine never made me feel stressed since I was living my dream. After Versace, I joined Dolce and Gabbana in an internship position. I worked in the style office and the tailoring department, which helped me experience different steps of the process and meet celebrities and top fashion players – Carla Sozzani was one of my first fittings. I will never forget my experience at Ferré’s; it was fantastic to work with such a great person. I had the honour of designing with people who have always been my idols, which made me feel blessed. I treasure what happened to me in my early years. I do have a piece of advice for you: keep your eyes wide open and learn as much as you can, stay focused on getting the best out of yourself and don’t waste time.
Looks from the latest a-w 22 collection by CHB
What is the idea behind CHB?
This brand has always been my dream, and it is hard to tell the whole process that made it possible because it comes at a breaking point in my personal life. Before starting my project, the latest position I held was as creative director for a Chinese brand. However, during my stay in that country, my mother passed away, so I had to fly back to Italy. It was a challenging moment, even though it was the beginning of something great; all I needed was to keep all my energy on my ideas. I founded the CHB during the pandemic: covid didn’t stop me – no one could. Tip number two: do not be afraid, but try to find a reason to move forward. You are the leading actor on the stage of your life.
Christian Boaro's CHB autumn-winter 22 collection
As an independent designer, how would you define your brand’s place in the global fashion scene?
It helps if you communicate your brand by being true to who you are. My garments are niche products, both for their Made in Italy quality and price. Designers should focus on their storytelling, being true to themselves without just following trends. Re-watching my Manifesto video, a mix of images about the CHB first collection, I feel like I did a pretty flat work, but I’m still sure it couldn’t be done differently. I wanted something consistent with my idea of a timeless collection.
CHB first s-s 21 collection, titled 'Manifesto'
What is the most challenging fabric you work with?
I work with fabrics that inspire my creativity, but above all, that make me feel enthusiastic and are the right choice for the piece I am creating. We need to think outside the box, but we have to respect the essence of everything we are touching, cutting and sewing.
Looks from CHB a-w 21 collection
We are so into CHB’s logo. Can you explain its design for us?
To be honest, I like the logo too. CHB is the evolution of my thesis at Marangoni; as you can see, my taste hasn’t changed since then. I enjoy having genuine connections with real people and involving my friends in CHB campaigns, as well as people I meet out on the streets or Instagram. Not all the people you can see in my shots are professional models, as I think that beauty comes in different shades, not just one. I am into telling their stories and personalities with a bit of sensuality while not retouching their imperfections.
Christian Boaro with Istituto Marangoni students in Milan
How did you set your sales strategy?
Since I launched the CHB brand during the pandemic, I have had some challenges, but overall, it is going well. For my latest collection, I decided to show different people wearing my clothes, from streetwear to tailored pieces; I worked with a stylist and a showroom that could best represent CHB, but I’m still developing my e-commerce platform. It will be launched shortly, as I believe in direct contact between the brand and customers.
CHB s-s 22 collection
Will you join the metaverse?
I am all for visibility on social media, but I still have a few doubts about the Metaverse. I feel it is restrictive and difficult for some brands like mine. I can hardly imagine joining the metaverse as I create tailor-made clothing and pieces. However, I do think that people in the fashion world need to share ideas, talk to each other and discuss trends face-to-face. Think of fashion shows, where people in the industry can meet and focus on the designers’ creations.
Looks from CHB s-s 21 collection
Tell us about your hopes for CHB’s future…
Top on my ‘to-do list’ is to stage a fashion show, but I will wait for the right moment because I am really picky. I would love to dress some celebrities, although I need to get to know them first because I want to have the right chemistry with the people I work with. Last but not least, I dream of opening a flagship store.
Looks from Christian Boaro's CHB a-w 22 collection
In your latest fall-winter 2022 collection, your pieces look as if seen through a black-and-white filter. Do these non-colours have an emotional value in your work?
I feel inspired by colours, but I chose black and white this time because they depict my narration at best. They are easy, understated and made up of all the other colours simultaneously.
Anna De Bortoli
Student in the Master’s program in Fashion Business & Digital Marketing, Milan