What do Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Tilda Swinton have in common? Let us take you back to the 16th century to explain how the Italians came to define and know that special something, which the French call, Bon-Ton.
We are honoured by editors at home and abroad who celebrate “il bello e ben fatto” – the beautiful and well made. They are becoming our protagonists in this soulful narrative of artisans staying true to all that is Italian and sharing their sublime expressions of timeless style, elegance and charm.
Celebrating self in our daily rituals
The daily ritual, to look inside our closets in search of something to wear, is a deeper search for self-hood than we often realise. What does it mean then when nothing in a closet appeals? Is it a reflection on the contents or a harsh critique of the self?
Insight from our resident cashmere expert — Nicola Luccarini.
The fine quality cashmere offered by the e-boutique The Italian Collection comes from a very limited supply and its processing is labour intensive. In our quest for knowledge about why the wool is so elite and difficult to manufacture, we gathered details from our resident cashmere expert — Nicola Luccarini, the founder, artisan-designer and divine inspiration behind the cashmere-rich label that bears his name.
Haute couture jewellery since 1946
Throughout time, the baubles of historic atelier – Ornella Bijoux – have graced the pages of the French Le dictionanaire du bijoux, international exhibitions catalogs, and magazines Vogue and Elle.
Maria Vittoria Albani has earned her title as master of costume jewelry design by offering the world over 50 years of her inspiring creations filled with whimsical fancy and refinement that defy all elements of time.
Method, passion, experimentation, inexhaustible creativity and exquisite taste are the ingredients that nurture her necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, rings, crowns and suspender belts. These works of art are made entirely by hand in a plethora of materials – ceramics, woods, gold or silver gilt bronze and beautifully enameled metals – often paired with modern resins, sparkling crystals, hand-blown Venetian glass or semi-precious stones.
Since Maria’s mother opened the atelier by investing her life savings, after the war in 1946, the pieces have been designed and crafted meticulously, using only those techniques ordained by the “haute couture” of artisanal jewelers. Beginning then, and continuing until Maria took the helm in the 60s, all of these works have taken their rightful place as finery for insiders, desired by iconic fashion houses, and big international buyers alike.
Today, one enters Maria’s laboratory in Milan and is awestruck by the bounty of different forms and decorative motifs – be they vintage styles or modern creations. The collection of finery now includes some pieces by her daughter Simona, whose vision and impeccable taste mirrors her mothers’ and grandmothers’.
Maria tells us, “Do not let yourself be intimidated by their essence; rather allow your imagination to take hold and wear them with wild abandon as you recreate you in your vision.”
This is how Maria wears her brooch – in a way that captures her essence and honors the traditional sense – clipped to a lapel to beautify her jacket. But Maria encourages us to see that her precious butterfly brooch could just as easily be mounted on a leather bracelet or a multi-stranded necklace or even a choker. It is this infinite number of ways to play with Maria’s brooch that makes this piece, and all her collection, so discriminating.
Her brooch, like her entire line defies and eclipses fashion diktats. These precious baubles are created to be worn with a touch of panache given by the wearer, in unexpected ways, and this is how they convey, so uniquely, that “way of being” that is so unmistakably Italian.
Cristina and Myriam, co-founders of TheItalianCollection.com are so proud to have Maria Vittoria Albani gracing their e-boutique. We are hopeful that you will visit her soon, and peruse a capsule that is in every sense of the word unique for each piece is made especially for you.
Myriam and Cristina
Alessandro Cattaneo of UNICI is the creator of an exquisite collection of scarves. An artist at heart, each scarf is a work of art, a vehicle of artistic endeavor.
Whimsical patterns framed in splendid colors, and edged by hand, each scarf is more than a fashion accessory! It is more a sort of wearable art; particularly in the way they interact with the person depending on how they are worn.
Alessandro works north of Milan, not far from the pristine, icy cold waters of Lake Como; a place where palatial villas, Medici-style gardens, splendid churches and quaint fishing villages have held sway for centuries.
Mindful of the beauty that surrounds him, it is not happenstance that nature is often his muse; consistently nurturing his work and imbuing his designs with that personal touch.
Measuring sixty-eight inches long and twenty-six inches high these wildly abundant silk-mix scarves can be draped for impact, Isadora Duncan like around ones neck, Or, if you are looking to get into the hippie chic look this season why not tie it around your head creating a very distinctive head scarf!
You can even make it a wrap-around, a soft shawl to keep out the late evening chill. How you wear this scarf is entirely up to you; just allow your imagination to take hold and create your own personal style and be a style-maker?
So be merry, be playful and be elegant too with these artistic expressions by Alessandro Cattaneo!
Myriam and Cristina
“La borsa bella e ben fatta” — a beautiful and well-made bag — is an accessory par excellence whose imprint of elegance is desirable no matter the occasion. Be it a shoulder bag, a hand-held, a shopper or a clutch, what is paramount is that the design, quality and details all fuse to live in perfect harmony.
This perfection, that Italians know all too well, is what compelled us to include the refined creations by Valentina Nuzzi; owner and creative director of the brand FedoraMi within The Italian Collection.
Each of Valentina’s bags is made with a maniacal attention to detail: from the selection of the highest quality skins, to the hardware, to the trims all sewn by hand, to the finishes in contrasting colors and lined perfectly in Liberty fabric. All this personalized craftsmanship is not happenstance. Valentina is hands on from the beginning to the end of the production chain.
And so we sat down with the founder and creator of FedoraMi to learn how she came to be inspired to make these Made-in-Italy handbags reminiscent of the 1960s.
“La borsa bella e ben fatta” is a concept that Valentina adopted in childhood when playing in her grandmother’s wardrobe. As a grandchild of a beautiful and elegant lady, she could play for hours on end amusing herself with her grandmother’s 1960s wearables. Valentina was particularly fond of the handbags made by the best artisans of the day; objects of legend and desire that would, in time, inform her own aesthetic.
Now, at a mere 30-something, with her long mane of blonde hair and enchanting smile, Valentina’s apparent zest for life is still a child-like a ray of sunshine. Her preferred look may be simple, but it is put together with an impeccable touch: jeans, tailored silk shirt, Converse sneakers…and of course FedoraMi – a unique object that sets her apart.
A native of Milan and a woman of the world, Valentina is endowed with oodles of style, and has a personality filled with contrasting points of view: creative, but with a strong entrepreneurial bent, contemporary, but with a passion for vintage, a fast and furious lifestyle, but with a putting, iconic FIAT 500! And to top it off, she has a razor sharp eye for beauty that is the envy of all who come in contact with her.
It was during her years as a student – again we see those personality contrasts – studying the Classics and ending up with a degree in International Marketing – that she begins to toy around with the idea of the “bag project”. With a yearning to discover egged on by an insatiable curiosity, Valentina begins her adventure by going to flea markets in Rome, London, Paris and Los Angeles – all cities she loves – on a mission to find discarded bags of the decade that she holds so dear.
Valentina immerses herself in learning about skins, textiles, and production, and she begins to devour books on design, art and artisanship. She then practically moves in with Milan-based master craftspeople with a clear objective in mind: to bring back to life the bags of the 1960s bestowing on them a contemporary feel and cradling them in the highest quality possible. A challenge certainly, but one that Valentina approaches with all her heart!
In 2011, the first creations appear: Valora, the doctor’s bag made in deer hide, is perhaps the most labor-intensive piece of the collection. The highly versatile and transformative Ilora, hand-held or worn as a shoulder bag, it is the perfect carry-all companion. And then Isidora, a sophisticated pochette featuring a charming ribbon- shaped closure in metal and worn as a wristlet or across the shoulder.
We at TheItalianCollection.com are honored to be presenting Valentina Nuzzi’s work, which has been featured in highly reputable and prestigious fashion blogs and publications in Europe for its originality, versatility and time-defying élan.
Now we can bring these covetable collectables to the States, and introduce, to our clients, this nascent designer whose zest for life and fine accessories are a testament to inspired style.
Myriam and Cristina
Many summers ago I was sitting in a quiet corner of a fine dining establishment on the Cote d’Azur called “The African Queen” when four strapping lads sat at a large table set for eight right next to mine. They were noticeably handsome, incredibly well groomed and looked like they had stepped out of a Brioni atelier.
When their equally elegant parents arrived, each of the young men arose from their chairs and in a perfectly gentlemanly manner assisted the ladies in theirs. What a rare, welcome sight to see social graces in action. I felt this surge of blissful comfort and wanted so much to say, “Thank you!”
Not long after that unique experience, my partner, Cristina, who lives in Milan, shared an interview that appeared in the reputable Italian publication Flair Magazine. Six journalists declared the coming new year as an age of soft power – whereby soulful elegance beat aggression and advocates of harmony and social grace tended to be more successful.
At this point you may be wondering, “What do social graces and courtesy have to do with fine Italian fashion?” Well, how we think and how we behave determines how we express ourselves.
Subscribing to soft power, traditional social graces, and elegance in our world, here at The Italian Collection, translates to endorsing traditional style and elegance over fashion and trends.
It pains us to see the decline of treasured social graces just as it pains us to see the decline of Old World specialty handcraft ateliers.
This is why we have chosen to represent the artisans of soft power here in Italy — artists who operate from the heart, whose innate talents and gifts manifest in gorgeous handmade items that defy time — continuing to give new life to traditional elegance without pandering to trends and becoming commodities.
We at The Italian Collection believe that it is in the reinterpretation and rebirth of old ways — the soft power of social graces and timeless fashions — that allow the present to be rendered rich and bountiful. This is why each one of our artisan collections captivates the eye and our sensibilities with their own homage to soft power as they use traditional ways to make their craft and produce results that embody today’s graceful and elegant fashion sense.
So, go forth and embody soft power through your courteous, kind actions and your aura of elegance. It will draw others to you like moths to a flame!
Come visit our unique emporium –
itcollection.staging.wpengine.com – and engage in soft power!
Myriam and Cristina
Inside Sangiorgo Factory
Nestled in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, is the must see territory of Franciacorta, steeped in tradition, rich history and craft. This land of unassuming charm once fought over for its fertile lowlands and stunning lakes, is now known for its vineyards. Today, Franciacorta’s wine cellars, that proudly bear the DOCG label, have transformed themselves in cathedrals of modern winemaking producing some of the best sparkling wines in Italy and in Europe.
While vineyard crawls are the area’s tourism of choice, we would encourage travellers to settle in to experience all the region has to offer. The Alps and Swiss border to the North provide ample opportunity for winter sport. While the undiscovered gem of Lake Iseo, with its stately vacation homes, reflects the rolling hills and olive groves that encompass the area.
And like many places in Italy, the region is steeped in craft worth exploring. While vine cultivation is the longest standing — spanning Roman, the Late Classical, and the Medieval periods — the region has also been known for its iron work and high quality fishing nets from the must-see Lake Iseo island of Monte Isola.
One of our favorite examples of the area’s modern era craft is the Sangiorgio Factory; an atelier of leather finery embedded against this rich countryside’s crenellated watchtowers. The workshop, in the riverside city Palazzolo sull’Oglio, houses over 14,000 items; belts, bags, bracelets, and key rings – all born from the fervid creativity of Roberto Pansa. They are examples of “bello e ben fatto” – beautiful and well made – and endowed with designs that anticipate trends.
Although his atelier is recognized by iconic fashion brands for producing quality and innovative elegance, Roberto remains charming and disarmingly humble as we sit with him over Espresso. Though he is by definition a designer, he prefers to be seen as a “transformer” of his beloved raw material, which, in its nuance, nurtures his ideas. Roberto likes to feel, smell and cast his eye over the skins, all the while mentally taking note of cues that ultimately lead him to innovation. He tells us he once created a luggage line inspired by an intricate locking system!
And it is the meticulous tooling and handwork he employs with leather that led him to create the gorgeous lattice shoulder bag we are honored to represent here at The Italian Collection. The inspiration for this rejuvenating carry-all with that touch of sporty chic, comes from Roberto’s action of braiding skins for belts. Roberto’s eye transformed the simple braid into a unique piece that required countless hours of research before going into production. The outer shell on its own was impractical, so he added a removable sleeve for small items.
Cristina and I delight to bring you this bag, so that it can be seen not only on the shoulders of fashionable yet pragmatic Italian women, but can also accompany worldly women in The States. We are proud to offer many of Roberto Pansa’s accessories at TheItalianCollection.com and encourage you to discover, innovate and create your own style!
Myriam and Cristina
The Italian Collection
P O BOX 1139
Bath, Ohio 44210
+1 330 233 1287