How do you top an edibles-themed digital show that featured everyone from Maisie Williams to Dua Lipa's sister Rina? Well, getting behind the camera and taking control of the script isn't a bad place to start, which is exactly what Giuliano Calza did for his Spring 2022 GCDS film.

His directorial debut sees the designer bring his underwater fairytale world to life as an ode to endless summers and post-lockdown life. The island motifs, aquatic adventures and mermaid themes are a direct result of his Southern Italy upbringing and fascination with the Neapolitan sea.

Stylist Anna Trevelyan, Calza's friend and longtime collaborator (she styled the collection again this season), caught up with the Italian designer to pick his brain on everything from food to fashion and pop culture.

Anna Trevelyan: Okay Giuliano, so I get to interview you for PAPER. Hmm... what deep secrets shall I ask you? What tea can I get you to spill? The possibilities are endless... First things first, please give us all your zucchini flower soup recipe. Wtf, it's so good?! (Giuliano is an amazing cook, as well as a visionary designer, as I gratefully discovered this summer.) This is serious, I need to know the recipe.

Guiliano Calza: [Laughs] Wish you were here, so I could be your chef. First of all, you need three fresh mini zucchini with flowers and two potatoes, then you cut them in big pieces. Put the flowers on a side. Take a big red onion or 2/3 shallots, make them crunchy in olive oil and after add a bit of wine. Add after five minutes, add three cups of water and then put in the potatoes and zucchini. Cook it at medium for 20 minutes and then add the flowers, some chili and pepper. Turn off the flame, add a scoop of vegan/ vegetal cream, stir, then a bit of parmigiano, olive oil and we good. If you want it to be more silky, just smash half of the zucchini and potatoes, it will be fab.

Anna: Okay, now the important stuff is out of the way... So how are you feeling after you've just screened your Spring 2022 show to the world? What has been the reaction?

Guiliano: I'm really happy. You know me and what really drives me crazy is not driving the car. This year, I trusted my gut and decided to direct this show and take care of all the things I knew you couldn't handle by yourself. So I was checking lights, camera, movements and VFX. It ended up being bomb and visually perfect for what I envisioned. I'm really happy and much more relaxed than when we were filming it in Barcelona.

Anna: Where was your head at while you were designing this collection? What movie storyline was happening in your mind? Who was your muse?

Guiliano: In my room, there's a giant The Little Mermaid poster from 1989. I always wondered who my mermaids would be and how they'd look in a club. Then I went full on with this line, "What would be island appropriate? What would I find on an abandoned island? What garment would I find in a lighthouse? How could I make their color fade away?" Of course, cartoons were on my mind. One Piece and Futurama are my favorite to watch before bed, so it was very empowering to see my real fantasies come alive.

Anna: Is there anyone on earth or beyond you would love to see wearing these looks?

Guiliano: I'd die to have Cher wearing the teardrop Sita look because the V pants make me think of her. And I'd scream to see Lady Gaga in the huge Divine Platforms. Of course there's a lot of inspiration from Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and Noritaka Tatehana — all these geniuses I've dreamed of through their dreams. I'd like to be on the list, please.

Anna: So you decided to concept and direct the film, as well as design the collection. What was it like directing your first video? What inspired you to go down this road?

Guiliano: I'm really precise; I've learned in this design path that the more you explain, describe and visualize things in the detail, it's more likely to be exactly like your fantasy. Many times I've been on set where I had to explain to everyone what I wanted, but I get so stressed when it's not like it is with you. You know what I love and that's the dream scenario. This year, I had this idea of the audience exploring the models and their accessories, day to night. I can try to match my fantasy and it was a lot of work, but I loved it. I don't think I'd do it again if I didn't have such a specific idea the way I did with this collection. I do also love when someone takes my world and elaborates on it, but this also has to be a choice.

Anna: One important thing I need to know is... Well....Now you're directing, writing, designing and starring in... Are you coming for my job next?!

Guiliano: [Laughs] I'm not! You have powers on a set that no one else has! The kindness, the vision and also the way you guide me through – it's irreplaceable!

Anna: In the case that you're not about to chop me, what do you think is important about having a stylist work with you on the show? Specifically this stylist [laughs].

Guiliano: Sometimes as the designer, you have emotional ideas of a garment, but it doesn't always fit this actual fantasy. The edit of a design job is very precious because whoever you give this power to, you have to trust they have your mind at heart. Sometimes it may be a good job, but after you watch it a couple of times, it's not interesting or timeless. You have the ability to make it cool now and in 10 years.

Anna: It was so fun after 1.5 years of Zoom styling to finally be reunited this summer. As you know, I love you dearly as one of my BFFs and I also love your crazy pop culturally iconic brain, so getting to create again with you after all this time was so special for me. Do you have any favorite memories of this summer, the preparation for the show and shooting the film in Barcelona?

Guiliano: I honestly love every little moment between us. Every time we were exhausted, but still living a life beyond the set. Being able to create and, at the same time, living the experiences you go through is quite unique.

Anna: Talk to me about your cat, Kittho. I miss him! Why is he such a weird little animal?

Guiliano: [Laughs] I'm sure he has powers like my Chibiusa cat. He behaves like a dog, but has some cat-like characteristics that are actually very me. When I don't wanna talk, he doesn't talk to me [laughs].

Anna: What's the stand out viral item from the Spring 2022 collection? We've had the bunny boots, the Jurassic Park boots, the sneaker bag and, of course, the logo sweater. What's next?

Guiliano: The Divine Platforms! The press office is going crazy. Dua already sent them viral, but I also think the "One Piece" collab will make people go crazy. I personally can't wait.

Anna: Do you have anything you can tell us, a keyword of inspiration, for what Fall 2022 will be like? I know it's early, but we want more already.

Guiliano: You already know because I forced you to watch almost every version of it ever made. Let's just say, GCDS is going goth.

Anna: Where do you see GCDS and yourself in 20 years time? What's the fantasy?

Guiliano: I always say that I want to keep doing my job with my fashion family and with the same light and joyful spirit. But I think in 20 years I'll be ready to have a baby and open that door of fashion to them — being the person some fashion people have been for me.

Anna: I can't wait for the GCDS planet personally... Last question, when are you bringing me to Milan and cooking me all the tasty vegan foods again? Yum! I don't know how I got such a talented friend, I'm so lucky and grateful... I love you! (Truly babe, I'm not just saying that so you give me the green crystal platforms or anything... the love, it's real! But I wouldn't say no, of course, if the platforms made their way to me... I would graciously accept... if they did... just saying.)

Guiliano: You see! It's a very important accessory and I'm sure they will make it into the Anna archive. Can't wait for the next obsession.

Photos courtesy of GCDS

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