My new article for Cool Hunting.
Giada is a unique case of Chinese-owned, Italian-designed fashion branding—and so far the only existing case in the world of luxury. The Asian side is invested in by RedStone Haute Couture, and the European anchor rests in Italy and was created by founder and designer Rosanna Daolio. After 13 years working at MaxMara, Daolio chose to establish a design consulting firm based in Milan in 2000, which slowly turned into a high-end womenswear brand. After a few years of activity, Giada was acquired by Yizheng Zhao, a Chinese entrepreneur with years of experience in luxury fashion trading. Expanding quickly, Giada now has 46 stores and is a reference point for low profile but exclusive style all over China.
Giada’s strategy is to express the best of Italian design and manufacturing: Everything is 100% made in Italy—clothing in the northeast and leather goods in Tuscany—with the best Italian fabrics. Cuts are clean and sleek, and Daolio’s research always moves in the direction of an understated “soft power”—an essential rigor. After years of ever-increasing success in China, Giada decided to launch their first ever European store. Tomorrow, 20 September, the flagship store in Milan—located in the prestigious Via Montenapoleone (the equivalent of NYC’s Fifth Avenue or Paris’ Champs-Élysées)—will open to the public.
The space is masterfully designed by architect Claudio Silvestrin, who is known for classic projects like the Armani flagship stores and new spaces like the Oblix restaurant at The Shard in London. Silvestrin’s approach to architecture is in tune with Giada’s view on fashion; it’s all about quality materials and sleek lines. The three-story space is divided into two retail floors and one showroom. Elegantly bare, the store has no visible furniture or storage, but leaves large areas for fitting rooms and a comfortable white VIP room. CH met with Silvestrin for an exclusive interview during the preview of the store.
Your attitude toward design is very similar to Giada’s. How do you feel about this fine-tuning?
When they approached me, I tried to understand in-depth what they were doing. When I saw the high quality of fabrics and materials and the clean lines, it seemed like they were going to feel my architecture was right because we share the same philosophical principles. I believe it is no coincidence that they have chosen me.
What materials did you use?
I used porphyry of the Dolomites, limestone from Portugal, cast bronze, and natural leather. The leather covers the fitting rooms and has not been treated, so it will have its own life. Even the stone is not polished, so you will see the passing of time.
Did you try to establish a stylistic link with the existing stores in China?
My approach is 100% new. It’s in my nature. They gave me carte blanche, because I have a lot of experience in retail and they knew that I know how to handle spaces. The whole design process took place in a fluid and natural way, without clashes or divergent ideas. Clearly, when I presented the project, they were surprised by the choice of rocks, cast bronze and the other materials. However, both Rosanna and Zhao had great confidence in me. They had trust and intuition; they came with some good insights, we shared them and we found ourselves on the same wavelength.
Plans for Giada’s expansion outside of China are quite ambitious: the opening of the Milan store will be followed by next year’s Madison Avenue store in New York, Sloane Street in London, Avenue Montaigne in Paris and Ginza in Tokyo.