How many forms does art have? Gioa Picciurro, from Palermo, turned her passion into her a job. After she received high school diploma, she decided to totally devote herself to what really makes her eyes ‘sparkle’, so she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo. In 2018, when she was 23 years old, she launched her first line of leather accessories, 100% handmade by skilled Italian artisans. In 2019, she received even the degree in Fashion Design.
Sicilian Secrets interviewed
this brilliant Sicilian fashion designer,
that today proudly leads the start-up GIOA,
as meaningful as her name.
Q: How did your bags-project come about?
A: In 2016, when I was still studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo, I applied my skills, so they led me to create my brand and the first handcrafted accessories.
Q: What’s your inspiration to create a collection? How is the GIOA ‘team’ made up?
A: I find inspiration in whatever surrounds us such as nature, art, etc. rediscovering in my creations also some aspects of my personality. Like in all companies, even in GIOA there are professionals who support the designer, from artisans to suppliers, and those who work in our marketing department and product communication.
Q: How do you convey your Sicilian spirit through your bags?
A: In the first Baglass collection, I describe and exalt a part of our Sicilian artistic and cultural heritage, Liberty style. Through the accessories inspired by the stained-glass windows and the architectural elements of the historic villas of Palermo, I would like to amaze and surprise my customers, just like the artists of the past did. In this way my emotions and my Sicily can be told in a contemporary way.
Q: What was the first bag you created?
A: My first creation was the Butterfly Bag, whose idea randomly came about: one day a wonderful butterfly landed near me, almost trying to catch my attention and suggesting designing something that had it as the centerpiece.
Q: Gioa, you are very young and have already collected several awards. What’s the achievement that makes you prouder?
A: Having been contacted by two prestigious and well-known British fashion magazines, British Vogue and Vanity Fair UK, right after I presented my first collection at the Mipel Fair in Milan.
Q: Crafts, business and Sicily: how does GIOA connect these three dimensions?
A: Since 2018 I have been registered with the Palermo Chamber of Commerce as an individual company, as well as a start-up. Moreover, I am part of the Sicilian Young Entrepreneurs group of Sicindustria association. Craftsmanship is an essential quality of my company as well as the attention I pay to the choice of materials. In this way, I give voice to the small but important local business that many people don’t know and that are fantastic, instead.
Q: Have you ever created something that in the end you kept to yourself?
A: Yes, there are a couple of projects that are still prototypes and that I keep with care, hoping – one day – to make a new collection with them all.
Q: During pandemic, have you done anything specific for yourself? As an artist, how are you experiencing this weird period?
A: Although the period is penalizing for everybody, I do not give up and continue to experiment and create some new products such as scarves and hats, that I can’t wait to make.
Q: Dream big: how do you imagine your future as a designer?
A: In October 2020 I had the honor of taking part in a prestigious event, the Silent Mipel Leather Goods Showroom in Seoul, where I was seriously appreciated by the Korean audience and was also selected together with other ’21 Italian excellences’ to represent Made in Italy. My goal is to continue along this professional path, overcoming new challenges and above all to make my brand famous all over the world.
Q:… and if you had to make a celebrity wear a GIOA bag, who would you choose?
A: I would choose the ethereal and wonderful étoile Eleonora Abbagnato, whom I have admired a lot since when I was a teenager, because I have studied ballet for years. She would be the perfect woman to wear my bags, in particular the Butterfly Bag or the Dragonfly Bag, inspired by two insects expressing gracefulness and elegance, the same characteristics masterfully interpreted by Eleonora on the stage and in everyday life.