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from  -  ITALY

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Photo by Matilde Piazzi



I am Charlie, born as Gioia Maini under the sign of Pisces, in the year of the Dog. My name Gioia (JOY) carries the promise of a complicated kind of happiness and I have disidentified from it along with everything that had been given to me as immutable: gender, body, expectations. I remain a hybrid, faithful to that change and today I am Fennel - a vegetable with faggy behaviour. My skills have made me a versatile monster and I proudly claim the instability that allows me to be creative and differently productive.

I have a fashion PTSD but the shoes I made walked me here. After studying industrial design and costume for the cinema and theatre, I channelled the effects of a traumatic bereavement by assembling a dress made of cat poop for an upcycling competition, and indulged in my fetishism by dedicating myself to shoes. Having taken on the practical skills for shoe production, I launched my brand Gioia Maini in 2012. Since then, fashion for me has not been about conforming to and following the rules of the industry but it's the language.

I use to express new concepts: putting aside hetero-normativity, I privilege heterogeneit and see labels as admissible as long as we use them to describe ourselves. Everything is political and fashion is a practice of self-determination thanks to what I call clothing therapy: the connection with our most intimate selves, through the identification and expression of our own personal image.

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Photo by Matilde Piazzi

During the years when I studied and worked as a stylist and costume designer, I learned all the rules that we can break together today. It appears that women have more options for choice in fashion as compensation for all those who are precluded from the world. My work aims to break this illusion and the cage of false representations of the male / female, regaining possession of everything that is not considered desirable because it is funny, clumsy, grotesque or monstrous. We were taught to aim to be perfect, together we can reject all the standards of beauty that we will never be good enough for.

To take a step towards the queer in fashion is not only to include new kinds of bodies and needs in the constitution of the imagination, but to find new places from which to start imagining oneself again. Post-porn has given me the tools to introduce new aesthetics and desires into my work, at the same time the experience of trauma has become a new place from which to start creating. I come from trauma, I create from trauma. Following the death of my mother, my grandmother became first of all muse and model for me and then partner for the Vodka & Tena Lady project, an artistic experience in which care is detached from senses of guilt and duty, and returned to the practice of acceptance, exchange and the development of non-heteronormative affections, while at the same time, other imaginaries related to fetishism and eroticism are performed in an irreverent and grotesque way.

I learned from these experiences that trauma makes us flexible and adaptable, to the point that we may run the risk of adapting to and remaining within the trauma itself. The alternative to remaining is to resist and transform that experience through our creativity, without denying or invisibilizing it at all. The construction of emotionally reliable networks and queer somersaults while creating bodies and image is now part of my artistic and existential research.



Photo by Matilde Piazzi


Photo by Jeff Jassky

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