Founder of PWC store and Milanese icon, Maria opens the doors of her world made of precious memories of the nightlife and sparkling archive pieces.
Maria Aminta Daniele, for friends and everybody she’s just Mari.
Talking to her is kind of a surreal experience because, in the telling of her amazing life adventures, each conversation branches out in thousands of directions, always coming alive with the enthusiasm of childhood. It comes out a peculiar and good soul, with a perfect balance between kindness and rebellion, you nearly can’t believe in.
She was the godmother of Gasoline, one of the most popular spots in Milan during the ‘90s and 2000s, she has been the first female DJ in Shanghai and now she is the perfect hostess in her crazy shop PWC, located in Col di Lana area.
Calling it a vintage shop is nothing short of an understatement: get inside this tiny space and you’ll find military hats, scenic dresses, original propaganda pins, toys from the ‘90s, an excellent selection of pre-owned clothes and a wide variety of costume jewellery. We met her to get deeper into her artistic path and her style choices, chatting about vintage, nightlife and PWC.
Let’s start from the shop and get back. Tell me about the origin of PWC.
The PWC project started for fun. At the beginning the idea was to play in the toilets of the fanciest parties in Milan, and we also have been doing it for a little while. It was fun, nothing serious, but later we liked this name so much we decided to keep it for the shop we opened in July 2017, me and my best friend Luigi. The idea was to offer a different service from the other vintage shops: we wanted to create a vintage boutique, with a little selection of items in perfect conditions. And actually, this is the same service we also give today: dry cleaning, washing, tailoring.
The name PWC has nothing to do with the material, then. Seeing the items in your shop I thought it was linked to the world of plastic.
No, it’s absolutely not. It’s only about the WC thing. I just can’t say the reference behind the P, because I could have some legal consequences. (laughs)
Today, PWC is no longer just vintage. Other than pre-owned clothing and objects, inside this space you host new designers and young artists’ creations. Do you follow a line to shape the style of your shop?
Everything is basically casual. My choice is just natural because I involved my friends. I’m lucky enough to have among my closest friends the most talented designers of the Italian scene and they are already well-known by young people. Simon Cracker, Angelo Cruciani with Yezael, Metabolica, Dafne of DADAMAX, all the scribbled and graffiti items by ArCLoTh by Alis, Silvia Cannarella with her kilt-belts.
There are many young creatives always launching fresh new stuff, leaving behind unsold past collections. I take these products and I put them on the market for a humble price, with a double income: this item gets sold and the designer can show off its creations, getting some visibility. This might allow someone to fall in love with his style and maybe consider to buy something from the newest collection. Everything I do, I do it for instinct. I never use a strategy.
Talking of strategies, do you think there is a common style linking all these young designers you host here?
That’s for sure. Some of them grow the same concept of REUSE that is very important to someone like me, wearing vintage since I was a young girl. I think that vintage should be a possibility rather than a trend. A possibility to have a unique style, to love again some cool item, to give an important message against waste, which is central nowadays. These designers give clothes a new life: they print and customize them; they create starting from something that already had its own shape.
Then there is someone like Angelo Cruciani, who creates from scratch and with him and Simon Cracker, I share the same passion for the Far East, China in particular. They both are very popular and have a following there. They grab a lot from the East and from its handcrafting tradition.
What is the real value of something for you? From clothing to objects, your evaluation seems to be strongly personal, but accurate at the same time.
When someone is buying something, I always try to tell a story. To tell the meaning of an object. I make a selection based on my taste. I have been a child during the ‘80s, a teen during the ‘90s and I owned the club in the ‘90s and ‘00s, so I learned all the possible trends of these decades. When I see stuff, I just fall in love with it and I take it not only for myself, but for the clients too. I see the possibility to let someone find out a little piece of the past he didn’t live.
You watched this project rise, grow and change. How do you see its evolution?
I gave it a cross cut, that’s for sure. I included toys, pins, military garments. Vintage must be clean and respectful of the buyer, but it also has to keep that funny ingredient of searching and finding little treasures. The good thing of PWC is that it addresses to a wide audience, free from boundaries about age, sex, sexuality… there is no limit, I want people to get out of here in a good mood, feeling they’ve been treated like family. I want people to feel good, I aim to win their trust.
Is this empathy the same trump card you had as a DJ? With a music career like yours, I suppose your aim was to create this same good feeling on people.
That’s right, it is exactly my nature and I couldn’t do any different. I need to create a music wave. I have no line-ups; I need to connect with the ones staying in front of me and feeling their mood. Everytime it’s a different connection, I get emotional, I even get a little scared. I started my Gasoline at 23, it was iconic and really popular and we gave it away in 2009. Claudio Coccoluto, who passed away few days ago, was our resident DJ at Friday and he turned the tide of the club.
Then I moved to China and it affected so many life choices of mine. I’ve been the first female DJ in Shanghai, I played at Martini, Mao, Bar Rouge, Mint, I did the first vernissage. When I got back to Milan, I focused on events for Salone del Mobile and I started many formats.
Future projects for your space?
I want to expand it but it goes to September 2022. Now it’s quite hard to think of opening something new, I want to throw an opening party. Events, music are my roots and I can’t think of an opening without an event. I won’t say much, only that we will give more and more space to independent designers. I also want to sell more of the other things I love like toys, ancient books…
And your music career?
Now it is at a standstill, of course, but it’s definitely not over. I want to experiment a lot and in this last year I had time to think and grow new ideas. For sure, I’ll do something different than before, I’ll do more peculiar and selected choices, but I can’t wait to get back into the DJ booth. The night is life for the city, it’s the engine. The night calls foreigners, young people, fun, life. It is a lifeblood. Today, despite this weird situation we’re living, the night is still alive and it doesn’t stop. That’s my life.