Silvia Negri Firman
Saul Taylor / March 23, 2019
There is one name that big fashion brands, world class mariners and spiritual leaders trust for their PR and communications. Silvia Negri Firman is something of a Milanese miracle worker and she welcomed us into her sun-filled office for a chat about the joys of work.
You’re originally from Milan.
I was born in Milan into a very creative family. My father was a famous graphic designer in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet I studied as a lawyer. After two months I realised I wasn’t interested at all in anything but fashion. I found a fashion school, applied and started attending. One of my classmates was a model and she suggested I go with her and show the photographers my work because I was already making clothes.
Physically producing garments?
Yes, I wanted to see if they were interested in photographing them. Instead, I found a photographer who hired me as an assistant and wanted someone to teach people how to style for him, so I started as a freelance stylist. I was terrible but it was a very good moment in fashion. Everybody was shooting in Milan — all the best photographers and top models — so it was easy to find jobs. I did that for one year and I met Karla Otto who offered me a job in her office.
Laughs Yes. She was already very well known, even though her office was very small. I came in as number three, just before moving to a bigger space and starting to work on bigger accounts. Jean Paul Gaultier and Jil Sander were about to arrive.
Yes, it was amazing. We were doing much more than PR. We were consulting other brands, finding them the best directors and creative people to work with, giving them good advice. We launched Jil Sander, we launched Prada. I was very shy and my problem was that in some situations I didn’t know how to handle it without Karla. Then I understood that it was time to leave and try something different. I found a job at Giorgio Armani. That was an amazing experience because I arrived a bit arrogant with all of my crazy fashion with Jean Paul Gaultier. I discovered the most clever, incredible genius who gave me a lot of opportunities.
You worked with him personally?
Yeah, with him and his sister. She really taught me how to do PR. Gabriella Forte was there at the time as well and I met a lot of celebrities and photographers. It was really 360 degrees, from the management of the stores and the windows to the shows and the campaigns and magazines. But then I had a baby, I changed jobs and ended up at Alberta Ferretti for the first time as Head of Communications when I was 27. That was another very interesting opportunity. A few years later the second baby arrived and I had to change again because babies were not really in fashion. I changed many jobs and then I ended up at Calvin Klein in Milano. That’s when I met Carlo and Ennio Capasa and I fell in love with them and joined them at Costume National, again as Head of Communications worldwide. We did incredible things at the right moment. We were a team of four dressing David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, creating events with amazing people all over the world. It was really interesting.
When you started your own agency, what was the idea?
The initial thoughts were twofold, both very different. I was attracted by the digital world which was starting to become important. It was already important to other industries and fashion and luxury were just starting to watch. When I started this company, many fashion companies didn’t even have their own website. They thought bloggers were monsters, better not to spend time with them. But there was something. The other reason was I really loved creativity and communication in any aspect and I liked to do that without borders. I like to be in charge of everything.
What do you love about the job?
We also produce events which is something I love. We also have a very small graphic design and web design department which is headed by my brother. This is more of a heritage from my family. It could be an invite or a website. The work is changing constantly so I’m determined to succeed in the changes.
What about non-fashion clients?
SNF: Many things. I’m super proud to tell you that we are the press office for the Dalai Lama in Italy. I personally love him so much. He came five times starting in 2014. There are many Buddhist institutes and one in Tuscany is the most important in Europe. The first time they hired me I got a phone call saying, “Hi, would you like to work for the Dalai Lama?” And I thought it was a joke. It was someone from his institute. I said I would love to do it, but I work in fashion and design, I’m not an expert in spiritual leaders. They said it was no problem. When I met him for the first time it was on the apron at the airport. We had a lot of journalists and cameras and I was told by his team that they were only allowed one question and of course they wanted more and I tried to stop them. He took my hands and said don’t worry. Because he is an amazing person, he understands.
But also full of humour and so full of love. He can stop a summit by saying hello to people he recognizes.
It’s interesting that you work with folks outside of fashion.
We also represent Giovanni Soldini, the captain of the Maserati boat. He is my childhood friend who brought us into the whole new ocean adventure. The other day we were here dying from a number of stupid fashion dramas. And then all of a sudden we got news from the Caribbean because his biggest competitor had just capsized during training and Giovanni’s team managed to save them and pull the boat out of the ocean and now they are racing together after sinking. It is really a 24-hour job, but it’s very exciting and I hope that my team are also very excited.