Prato, once a model Italian city famed for its textile industry, entered a steep and dramatic decline in the 1980s. But as the final act of Prato’s industrial revolution played out, a new actor — the Chinese migrant — arrived from Wenzhou to breath life into this most Italian city. Today, Chinese businesses working in the field of fast fashion occupy abandoned industrial buildings, while workers and families live in previously unoccupied homes in a large area that is today known as Chinatown. The local Italian community view their Chinese neighbours as unwelcome intruders and illegal Chinese workshops as blights on Italy’s proud industrial heritage.

Chinatown Lookbook focuses on Chinese youth and their use of fashion as a tool for the exploration of self-identity. 

This work stems from my sense of belonging to an area that is today considered derelict and a no-go area by a large part of the Italian community. Exploring the stories of a global generation and looking for beauty where no one else can see it allows us to chart a community’s evolving fashion identity in an unlikely fashion capital.

Agnese Morganti is a freelance documentary photographer based in Italy.

Chinatown Lookbook was presented during Slideluck Prato.


a. What program was used to create the multimedia?

I used Final Cut Express. I am a fan of Final Cut, I learned to use it when I attended film school many years ago and I still use it today, for both video and multimedia editing. I feel very familiar with the software interface, I know where all my favourite tools are and this familiarity allows me to work very quickly – which is what I look for. It makes the workflow feel good, just like wearing a favourite pair of shoes.

b. How and why did you choose that sound/music?

I feel that choosing the right music is probably the most important step after the shooting itself, as it allows me to get inspired, set the right mood to the multimedia and come up with creative editing ideas. For now I mostly look for music online, on free music archives or music licensing websites: the track I used was perfect for the flickering effect I wanted to use in the editing, it was love at first hearing.

c. Tell us about the editing process when you think of a multimedia.

My work is mostly photo based, so it all begins with shooting a photo story or a reportage. The multimedia takes after that because it uses the same images, but it later develops into something unique because of the editing ideas I come up with. Each multimedia is different and I’m always looking for that special something that makes every project come to life. 

With Chinatown Lookbook, I knew I wanted it to be about observing style and fashion where most people actually can’t see anything good or beautiful. Thinking around the topic of fashion and clothes I came up with the “look book” idea, but the Chinatown context was also very important so I added the landscape shots to talk about the place and what it looks like. The flickering effect came with the music: I think it is a visual element conveying a sense of uneasiness, but it also ties the multimedia together at the same time. All in all, I know that each multimedia is different and I’m always looking for that special something that makes every project come to life.

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Agnese Morganti | Chinatown Lookbook