“We just like to have fun!” laughs Marco Capaldo, who is half of 16Arlington along with co-founder and co-designer Federica Cavenati. Indeed, it may be only 11 a.m. at the duo’s London showroom space, but the combination of their relaxed charm and the enticing rack of fabulously shimmery, feathered pieces creates a warm, festive vibe that has everyone present giggling and threatening to slip into something delightfully embellished. “A lot of people say to us that the beauty of our clothes is that, when you wear them, every day can be a party,” says Capaldo when we point out the effect of the clothing. “And there’s a piece for any woman of any age—so all are invited!” Cavenati adds.
After meeting at university in East London, the pair, who are both originally from Italy, decided to launch 16Arlington to create the perfect fusion of their respective styles and tastes. Cavenati has a minimalistic, Scandinavian approach to ready-to-wear, while Capaldo is more couture-focused and brings a heavily embellished, European flair to his designs. “We wanted to balance these elements and create a brand with a high-octane aesthetic and strong DNA. It was also extremely important that it felt really fun—when the collection hangs on the rails, we want you to want to raid the collection and feel spoiled for choice,” says Capaldo.
The duo’s approach to design is so complementary that by the time they get to the sketching part of a new collection, their ideas are often nearly identical. “First, we establish a strong index via a mood board of fabric swatches, personal photographs, and magazine images that sets the tone for the collection,” says Capaldo. “Then we go away and both design, and when we meet at the end of our design period and cross-reference all of our sketches and images, 90 percent of what we’ve done is identical—it’s very strange! We are completely on the same wavelength.”
The SS18 collection was inspired by the ‘60s and Edie Sedgwick—both her ability to mix and match as well as her dance background. “We thought a lot about movement. We love that these pieces come to life when you move—the crystals dance across the garment as the wearer moves across a room,” Capaldo says, adding that the collection’s other muse continues to be Cavenati herself. “She wears the brand so well, and so much of this is about her personal style—she really sets the precedent.”
Ever modest, Cavenati adds that their adoptive hometown also continues to inspire the collection. “London is so creative, and everyone gets to be an individual, so we’re really inspired by the diversity. Having our Italian background, we love to combine that European sensibility and Italian heritage of attention to detail and finish with the creative, edgy energy of this city.” It’s clear that the success of 16Arlington lies in the pair’s ability to harness contrasting influences—whether it’s Italy and London, drama and minimalism, or even expert tailoring and a rough-around-the-edges appreciation of good fun.