Samja Schroeder is a fashion and interiors stylist from Berlin. She has been living in the centre of Bologna for six years.
I am met by Samja and her bulldog Ettore at her front door. Large light filled rooms are filled with up-cycled furniture and decorated with paintings and objects she has found in markets all over the world. High ceilings, white furnishings and a functioning fireplace, all lit with her signature lamps that she makes herself from found objects.
So why is a German fashion stylist living in Bologna?
Because I’m married to an Italian. I had wanted to live in another country for some time and then I met my husband Gianluca and I was ready to go. I’ve been living here almost seven years.
Has Bologna changed much in that time?
Well during the crisis a lot of shops closed, but now a lot of really interesting shops have opened in their place. And some great looking new bars and restaurants. It has always been a great place to live. I have clients in Bologna but I have had to travel more and become versatile. Luckily I have kept my German clients and I trail back and forth. Here in Bologna I do interior design as well as fashion styling.
What does a fashion stylist actually do?
For a fashion shoot the stylist works with the client to choose the strongest pieces of the collection and then puts them together with the right shoes and accessories according to the look that is needed for the coming season. Sometimes I also help choose the models or locations. There are often twenty different outfits to style and take pictures of. You need to be spontaneous, because you plan it all before with hats and belts and jewellery and shoes, but things change on the set. For example the clothes are often in larger sizes and you have to adapt them to fit very skinny models.
What do you think of Bologna street fashion?
There are some very trendy people and when an Italian is trendy they really go over the top, trying to look cool, but often overdoing it. Then you have the people who wear an upmarket designer look, and the Bolognese women do this with finesse, making it all look a lot more elegant than elsewhere, more feminine. Always in high heels. The students in Bologna care about their appearance too. It’s all a bit more casual, but there is something polished about them that students in other countries don’t have. I just wish people would wear a bit more colour here. There is way too much black.
It’s a small city, you don’t see the crazy, eccentric dressers like in major capital cities. But there is one lady who I often see in the centre who must be over eighty. Every detail and accessory is carefully planned, from the hat to the rings and the handbag, and the scarf tied around her neck, always in high heels and everything in matching colours. She has red days, purple days, orange days. It’s incredible. I really love to see her passion for getting dressed each day.
What fashion trends do you see coming up?
I’ve seen something around for the next season which you could probably call Amish. Pharrell Williams started it with his hat and it opened the door for hats in general. And then with all the beards add clogs and too short trousers and lots of black and white. Layers and layers of different shirt lengths. Apart from the beard, this look is for both men and women.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve created a long neck chain called blueANDtrue for holding your smartphone around your neck. They are made of different coloured cotton cord, leather and metal chain and accessories. I originally made one for myself and then was so inundated with requests from friends and colleagues to recreate one for them that I’ve decided to go into production. It’s really great for dirty or sandy locations, chaotic studios and even parties. Any activity where you need your hands free.
by Kate Gralton