Rujana Cantoni’s portfolio is abound with surrealist storytelling and a fleeting digital aesthetic
Through digital styling and collaborations with artists, the Milan-raised creative is showing what 3D can offer to the fashion system.
- Ayla Angelos
- 4 August 2020
Looking back to her past, Rujana Cantoni recalls a time when she was around 10 years old and her mother had opened a children’s clothing store. Here, she would eagerly choose the looks of the mannequins and help with making the orders at clothing fairs: “It was actually me who did most of them,” she tells It’s Nice That. There’s also a video of her as a child wearing a bridal dress, explaining the details to her look and “all the combinations that could be made”.
Although not one to often visit the past, these moments are what she now describes as her “call”. Working as an art director and stylist, the Milan-raised creative began her career not really knowing where her path would take her. “I never really thought about styling and art direction,” she adds, “it is a career that came by itself in the most natural way possible.” This arrival was welcomed, however, and Rujana began her journey into styling before realising the need to have “more control” over all corners of the projects she was taking on. “I’m quite obsessive when it comes to my work and also, for this reason, I started leaning towards art directing my projects too.”
The result is a harmonious bind with both styling and art directing. The latter proving more of a necessity, particularly as it enables Rujana to express herself fully. “I don’t preclude myself from measuring myself in other fields and with other creative languages; at this moment, for example, I am very interested and attracted to the world of 3D art. It has also already happened in the past that I approached photography and graphics, both out of necessity and for fun.” As such, Rujana’s portfolio is abound with surrealist storytelling filled with a fleeting digital aesthetic.
GalleryRujana Cantoni: Mindstream World
This postmodern style is derived from her core influences. Alongside the storytelling of American fashion photographer Steven Meisel, Rujana is enamoured by daily life as well as the inspiration that “comes without being searched for”. This means that everything around her – things that she observes on the off chance – will spark an idea or fuel her reference points for the next project she takes on. “I feel inside me something like a click and I start from there,” she says. “My projects never start from research, I see an object or I experience a sensation that inspires me. I realise that there is a story to tell and only then do I start to research and develop the theme. This click is crucial.”
Of her working process, Rujana admits that she is a bit of a workaholic. She not only finds it difficult to take days off, but she lives within her creative process and strives to make personal projects at any given chance – “a day without research is a lost day for me”. Working divisively with commercial and personal work, the two lend themselves greatly to more emotive and psychological works (completed in her own time) as well as a more organised and “Tetris” way of working with clients. An example of one of her recently produced projects is Renaisssance-E for Vogue Italia – the result of her new obsession with 3D art. “Months ago, I experienced love at first sight towards this world,” she adds, “and with this project I wanted to show to the public the potential that 3D can offer to the fashion system, but also how it can change traditional work roles, such as mine.”
With Rujana on the creative direction and digital styling, she collaborated with seven digital artists – Cat Taylor from The Institute of Digital Fashion, Carol Civre, Alberto Pelayo, César Cid of Cess Studio, Virtual Apparel Solutions, Samy La Crapule and Agusta Yr with 3D clothing created by Gwen Kim. The outcome is varied, where each contribution sees the digital artist transform a look from one designer, be it Chanel, Versace, Margiela, Marc Jacobs, Prada or Gucci.
Rujana points out a further project titled È solo un’influenza, created with photographer Petra Valenti to produce “photographic reportage during lockdown in Italy,” she says. Using FaceTime, the two “entered the homes and private lives” of their chosen cast scouted on Instagram – “I love finding interesting characters and personalities on social media” – and they asked them to detail their daily lives. Elsewhere, Rujana also completed a projected with Adriana Hot Couture, a young brand supported by the creative collective Mindstream. “I managed to express the more trashy, kitsch side of my creativity,” she adds, working was the junior art director and stylist to alleviate a “hybrid of art and fashion”. Rujana’s work is very much a combination of both, whereby her experiments with digital techniques and surrealist means of storytelling are steering towards new possibilities for the artist.
Rujana Cantoni. Vogue Italia, Renaissance E: Carol Civre as 3D artist. Wearing Chanel.
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.