Carmela Santoro, aka Donna Carmela, is a nomadic Neapolitan artist, costume designer, stylist, seamstress; author, actress, coach and performer.
Born and raised in Naples
Her values and passions meet in her tireless thirst for knowledge, in the eternal search for human evolution, in all its forms and knowledge and transvaluation is for her the main pivot where everything evolves,
going further is important…
Donna Carmela says she has always thought of herself as a cloud, a cloud that changes shape depending on the eye that stares at it, light, airy, certainly mobile. His creations are suggestions, talismans, the fabrics are chosen and designed as living materials, many assumed for their tactile and visual values. After all, clothes are the things we inhabit.
She leaves Naples in 1994 to go in search of what is other, new, different. The first stop was London, where he stayed for two years, then in 1997 came the big decision to live "in transit"; He then began a five-year period on the road. After a stop in New Zealand she moved to Australia, where for 2 years she worked as a personal seamstress with various Australian designers.
Donna Carmela's journey continues through South East Asia: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, are some of the stops she touches, living and sharing everyday life with the locals. During her journey astride a scooter, she meets the native tribes residing in the mountains and along the Mekong River, where she is welcomed with joy and curiosity and where she tries to make herself useful in various ways, including volunteering in orphanages and reception centres. war disabled and psychiatric homes.
Donna Carmela then landed in Berlin, where she lived for seven years looking for an artistic way to express what she was experiencing and discovering. It is during the experience in the German capital that the encounter with the Theater comes. Together with Manuela Naso and 6 other actors, he founded the artistic association "TEATRO INSTABILE BERLINO", the first Italian research theater group in Berlin in those years. The magic of the stage becomes a tool to be able to impersonate one's identities, a means of research to work on oneself. In 2006 she went on stage with her first show (which she wrote and performed): “Alla Ricerca Del Re Magio”, a comedy in Neapolitan with German surtitles, in the context of the Berlinapoli Festival in Berlin. From that moment a long phase dedicated to theater and performance began; follows various seminars, residential, artistic and theatrical, with Gey Pin Ang, Danio Manfredini, Anna Redi, Patch Adams, Manuela Naso, Michele di Mauro, Marco Martinelli and others.
She then moved to Barcelona, where she collaborated with various festivals as an organizer and offered her first artistic seminars for women; one of these is "L'Imaginario", a series of autobiography writing works through creative writing and character, a journey focused on discovering one's unheard personalities.
In the meantime, she continues her great passion for sewing, working with various stylists, especially abroad. He moves between Sydney, Berlin, London, for collections and costumes, until he stops for a decade in the city of Turin, from 2011 to 2021, creating his personal collections, made up of unique clothes made from recycled fabrics, particularly colorful and lively ones that clearly show her life that is perpetually changing, a condition that she joyfully shares through sewing.
The Turin experience mainly serves as an artistic and stylistic incubator: here she creates her brand Donna Carmela, based on recycling and upcycling. Since 2013 she has also begun to give creative sewing courses, putting the Art of Sewing in the foreground, which she experiences as the creative process of uniting, shaping, transmuting and creating new forms and styles of seeing and experiencing Fashion. Through her courses Donna Carmela also tries to pass on her own way of sewing, developed from thirty years of experience in both the tailoring and industrial sectors.
But Carmela's creative learning process does not end here and leads to another great passion of hers: costumes, experimental, transformable, fantastic, costumes to travel on other frequencies that are not obvious or already seen. During her work as assistant costume designer on the film “The Perfume, Story of a Murderer” directed by Tom Tikwer, for three months in Barcelona she held various roles that inspired her to go further, not only artistically but also physically… so she comes time to move to a new city, Venice.
Thus was born "Donna Carmela PASSAGES", a fashion beyond fashions: "the creation of a cartography that does not rely on geographers but on the creators of itineraries", as her friend and philosopher Francesco Forlani writes.
Donna Carmela says of herself that she has always thought of herself as a cloud, a cloud that changes shape depending on the eye that stares at it, light, airy, certainly mobile. His creations are suggestions, talismans, the fabrics are chosen and designed as living materials, many assumed for their tactile and visual values. After all, clothes are the things we inhabit.
His creations are also unique because they are made with recycled fabrics, they dress the clouds that populate every world he crosses, every culture, civilization, barely touching their forms, leaving them free to be. Donna Carmela's art is a real journey into colours, among a thousand shades and full of sensuality. From one end to the other of the thread with which he sews together pieces of fabric he also connects the different stages of his travels, each time weaving a tapestry of memories, remnants, encounters.
Donna Carmela's sewing thus becomes a biographical stitching, a reconstruction of facts that unfolds through the experimentalism of grafts and conjunctions of emotions. Donna Carmela tries to take sensations as they appear and blend them together, to then dilute herself in their nuances, feel them, inhabit them, in an infinite journey. Thus a seam becomes the sea of Naples, a cut transforms into a rainy day in Turin... it is the imagination of those who create in the same way as they live a dream, where reality and déjà vu mix. The aesthetic references overlap with mental places, where every creature and every disguise is possible, they overlap with clippings of history, fragments of travel, details caught on the street or in people's looks.
In the most recent chapter of her journey, Donna Carmela becomes a performer: she opens her fashion shows with artistic performances, and her sartorial collections are not only an artisanal product, but also the fruit of introspection to go further, one step further or higher than itself. In Venice he founded the association WeavingTalents and the collective "Passages" and it was with the latter that he curated his most recent performance, "Weaving Talents". Donna Carmela takes on the role of the spider woman and helps weave a path on identity, which is broken down and recomposed by intertwining poetry, art and artistic activism.