Jezabelle Cormio is creating frumpy fashions for anarchic teens
The up-and-coming designer sheds light on her nightmare blunt rotation, the worst advice she has ever received, and delirious Pinterest-mum memes
A sturdy corduroy here, an unshapely cardigan there, perhaps a slip-on school shoe or a crocheted bonnet: Cormio has bucked Milan’s obsession with libidinal glamour ever since it emerged in 2016. But the brand has only recently entered into fashion consciousness, with its frumpish take on adolescence (all sensible skirts and scrawled-on hosiery in sickly combinations of pumpkins and purples) chiming with the likes of Kiko Kostadinov and Chopova Lowena. “I take a lot of inspiration from ‘hideous’ things, and I like to find the comedy in trying to make them feel ‘right’ again,” says Jezabelle Cormio, who was born in New York and grew up in Rome, before heading to Antwerp to study fashion in her early twenties… an experience she describes as “like a mix between RuPaul’s Drag Race and military boot camp.”
Her work harbours all the charm of a traditional souvenir: kitsch lederhosen, slip dresses housing tiny butterfly figurines, itchy sweater vests, and t-shirts emblazoned with Sud-Tyrolean townscapes, but it’s nowhere near as insipid. “In search of purity and simplicity, the Italian higher classes have found solace in Sud-Tyrol (the region where Austria meets Italy). We’ve come to appropriate this culture in order to wash out some of the ‘vulgar’ baroque we are known to the world for,” she says, referencing middle-class Italians with their trachten jackets, twee kitchen towels, and oven mitts. In a news cycle – and industry – which demands to be taken seriously, Cormio is living, laughing, loving. “It’s a nostalgic past of knights and princesses, bucolic countryside wisdom and dirty jokes about farm animals and vegetables.” Below, we get to know the designer on a more intimate level, as she talks through her approach, “delirious Pinterest-mum memes”, and the worst advice she’s ever been given.
Hey Jezabelle! Can you guide us through some of the inspirations behind your latest collection?
Jezabelle Cormio: My moodboard had pictures of little boys in princess costumes, Mary Blair’s illustrations of animals and fairy tales, old Betsey Johnson runways, and delirious Pinterest-mum memes. I wanted to conjure the constant interruptions that I’ve experienced since my daughter was born and how my adult life has merged with her childhood. Motherhood – and the expectations that come with it – are used against women to limit their freedom.
This shouldn’t be allowed. Families are a natural phenomena. They happen on their own terms, no matter what perverse claim the conservative politicians decide to focus on that week. We’re living in a very strenuous, but eye-opening, era. It’s like everything that once made me angry about a woman’s status in society is finally coming to a boil – right here in Italy, but also in Iran (in incredible ways), and in the USA (in a very disheartening way).
Which pieces are really totemic of the collection as a whole?
Jezabelle Cormio: Our emo horizontal stripes, the acid-washed denim, and our ‘we’ll see how you feel about abortions after I fuck your husband’ t-shirt. I like to think we redeemed the Capri pant length as well…
When did you first become aware of the power of fashion? Did you have a freakum outfit when you were growing up?
Jezabelle Cormio: Oh I had plenty. In grade school, I had these chenille knits that my great-grandmother made for me that I referred to as ‘magical sweaters’. I once started a mini-trend in my elementary school based on a single pair of jeans from a random store in Testaccio (Rome). And as I teen I was very into that indie-real-vintage-mixed-with-urban-outfitters-and-hot-topic look. It was like the weirder the better.
Would you design Giorgia Meloni’s next TV look for 10,000 euros? If so, what would you create?
Jezabelle Cormio: Hmm, it’s good that you thought of a monetary transaction here but I would only consider it starting from 50k. She could wear my Tyrollean blue apron with the two pigs humping that says ‘this is how you make ham?’ Her people can get in touch with our press office at Lucien Pagès if they wish to explore the possibility!
What’s your weirdest internet obsession?
Jezabelle Cormio: Tough question but, like, following totally unremarkable people’s daily routine on TikTok has taken up quite a bit of my time.
The most recent note in your Notes?
Jezabelle Cormio: A long spiel about how we cancelled a lot of denim styles from our AW22 collection because they didn’t meet our quality standards and how I don’t like the fact that the way some factories mistreat their ‘youngest’ clients is somewhat a secret of the industry. I’ve never said that except for here!
Your favourite 7/11 snack?
Jezabelle Cormio: Slushy ofc.
The worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Jezabelle Cormio: To wait for the right moment. If I did that I would have missed the right moment.
Who’s your nemesis?
Jezabelle Cormio: Imelda, our door lady, who really dislikes me but she will come around one day, I know it.
What’s your star sign and are you typical of that sign?
Jezabelle Cormio: I’m a Virgo and Virgo rising, according to @trashbagastrology’s wisdom I am very typical of my sign.
What’s the pettiest thing you’ve ever done?
Jezabelle Cormio: I talked back to this eight-year-old boy who wouldn’t let my one-year-old daughter play soccer with the older kids. He was bullying her and I told him I was going to find out who his parents were – because we were on a tiny island and he had nowhere to hide.
What Dazed headline would you be?
Jezabelle Cormio: The Con Artist Confronting the Fall of Western Civilisation and Nursery School Group Chats.
Who would be in your nightmare blunt rotation? And your dream blunt rotation?
Jezabelle Cormio: Nightmare blunt rotation: a lethal combination of my mom and the Red Scare girls. Dream blunt rotation: Kate Bush, Diana Spencer, and Camille Paglia.
What would your ghost outfit be?
Jezabelle Cormio: My collection of vintage 1930’s silk nightgowns, if I can still get a couple of outfit changes in as a ghost
What do you reckon you’re most likely to get cancelled for?
Jezabelle Cormio: I wish I knew *ahead* of time.
The title of your autobiography?
Jezabelle Cormio: How to Leave the House In Less Than 10 Minutes.