Sergio Rossi FW 2016/2017

“My shoes are Rossi, Sergio Rossi”. Here’s what we could be saying next winter.

The FW 2016/2017 collection designed by Angelo Ruggeri is almost completely black and clearly inspired by secret agents, spies, soldiers and trekkers.

This is going to be the perfect line of accessories for a charming man in need to go to an exclusive party, run away, fight, catch an helicopter jumping from the terrace, climb a mountain, kill the evil guy and then lay in front of a fireplace.

Maybe this is not daily life, but for many a daily dream.

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Paula Cademartori SS 2016

With the current SS collection Paula Cademartori is showing that she’s not just an “emerging designer” anymore, but a full grown-up creative and entrepreneurial mind.

Bags, shoes and small leather accessories are slowly and inexorably creating a real fashion world, ready to be expanded in several directions. Her vision is clear and her approach is that of an established brand.

It’s not anymore just about color and fun, but here we’re seeing style, class, elegance, irony, something pretty rare and unusual in the landscape of young fashion.

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Making Louboutin

A few months ago I was in Naples for a rare occasion to visit one of the factories that make men’s shoes for Christian Louboutin. I love to witness the making of things, in particular when it comes to handmade stuff.

In the past few days the official Louboutin Homme Instagram account is showcasing some of the pics I took at the factory. Seeing those wise hands at work, in the act of transforming those precious materials into pure beauty, makes me live once again those wonderful days. And understand why #CLLovesNapoli.

If this is not enough and you want to read the full story I wrote for Cool Hunting, just follow this link.

Studio Visit: Paula Cademartori

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My new article for Cool Hunting.

Constantly surrounded by architectural and natural beauty alike, Italians sometimes need someone from abroad to remind them of their exceptional surroundings. This may happen when friends and family visit or when some talented creative mind falls in love with local processes. The latter is the case of Paula Cademartori, a Brazilian fashion designer who can be counted among the ambassadors of the “Made in Italy” movement.

Cademartori studied design at Istituto Marangoni and business at Bocconi University, after which she moved to the Marche region (east of Florence on the Adriatic) to work at Orciani for one year. Here she learned what it really means to produce leather goods, the secrets of tanning, cutting, assembling and realizing unique crafts from start to finish. Then she moved back to Milan for two very intense years designing accessories at Versace.

Nevertheless, her dream was to create her own brand, and her first signature bag collection was launched in 2011. In just four years, she established herself as an icon among fashion devotees and buyers alike. We recently met with Cademartori to delve into her creative process and check out an exclusive preview of her new 300-square-meter studio and headquarters in the heart of Milan, where she works with a staff of 17 people. Like in her designs, the space is filled with sophisticated colors, upscale atmospheric touches and shots of pure energy.

“The beauty of Italy,” Cademartori explains of her decision to start the company outside her native Brazil, “is that you can design and then accompany all phases of the project. In a very small territory you have so many people so capable and full of experience that you can learn, discuss, and you always get to do something better than you have imagined. For me, coming from a different culture and a different story (even thou I’ve lived in Italy for the past 10 years) this possibility of direct exchange with all the craftsmen and technicians is always an enrichment.”

Cademartori was raised in Brazil and trained to be an industrial and jewelry designer. For this reason her methodology is far from traditional fashion design. She always starts with the realization of a very complete project (almost final), which then undergoes small changes in the factory. “Each one of my bags originates from my studio, where I have four designers. When I start with an idea, I need to plan it; to understand the user, which volumes and proportions she needs. When I get to the factory, ideas are already very clear, but then there can be a process of evolution. Some details are decided in production, such as the position of the seams in relationship to the inlay, or the use of the materials most suitable for a specific purpose.”

Her pursuit of beauty is punctuated with determination. “If you do not have a real purpose, it’s not enough that the object is beautiful. The aesthetic side matters, but the functionality and the market category are all factors that must be thought of first. My project is global and wants to reach out to all cultures of the world. For this reason, my range is now much larger, designed for women of all backgrounds and origins.”

Cademartori’s bags are extremely spacious yet structured so that everything can be easily organized and accessed quickly, without forcing users to rummage around. Colorful on the outside, they follow defined structural lines, so that one can make the most of space without overstuffing. For this reason they always keep the shape (the study of the structure is critical for the designer) and never lose the beauty of their unique proportions. Also the smallest of clutches have separate areas for smartphones and the bigger styles can hold tablets and other daily essentials. “Each bag is very easy to use,” she adds, “Petite Faye, one of our best-sellers, is full of pockets and is not very deep, so you can reach everything quickly. I love totes, but then you can not find anything inside.”

Since the first collection, Cademartori wanted all the small metal parts to be custom designed, including the recognizable buckle. “That is my logo as well. I put it on all my products and it tells who I am. When I launched my line I aimed at something fresh and new, but I also wanted it to look important. I did not want a simple logo, but a heraldic symbol, as if it were a family crest,” she says. “I started with Greek pi and worked on it, redesigned it so to get to the one we see today. My name you will see very little, since I don’t need to sign my products on the outside, but on the inside. My bags have to be iconic for their design, not because of the name that goes with it.”

Each Cademartori bag can be seen as a sort of base, a frame, a blank canvas upon which to give birth to an infinite variety of colors, materials and inspirations. Her enthusiasm rises when she talks creativity: “The funniest part of the design is when we say, ‘OK, let’s dress the babes!’ At this stage we think less to the design of forms and we freely work on the decoration, the choice of colors and combinations. And I can be a little obsessive with these things.”

In January, Cademartori will present a new line of small leather goods, with some products for men too. “I would like to create a philosophy, a real lifestyle. We started from the bags, but there is a world to be built,” she adds. Expect more surprises to follow, always colorful, always energetic and elegant. And of course—always from excellent Italian factories.

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Beauty and the beast

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Se bella vuoi apparire

Due video sulle scarpe, due punti di vista: quello dell’utente e quello del creatore.

Il video di Garance Doré ci racconta di una dura giornata al fashion circus, sempre con i tacchi da mattina a sera (con tanto di cameo di Christian Louboutin). Il secondo mostra Barbora Vesela al lavoro nel suo atelier di Londra, mentre nascono dalle sue mani un paio di scarpe.

Prospettive opposte, tecniche diverse, contenuti distanti, differenti livelli di profondità: comunque un modo per imparare un paio di cose sulle paia che tanto ci ossessionano.

Il ritorno di Stan

STAN_SMITH_PROFILE_lowDa avido consumatore, non posso essere che felice per l’annunciato ritorno delle Stan Smith.

Adidas me l’ha fatta grossa un paio d’anni fa, quando ha deciso di toglierla dal mercato, ma da oggi è disponibile a New York (ma solo da Barneys in Madison Avenue ) e presto sarà distribuita anche nel resto del mondo, aggiornata ma non troppo, con eventi mirati soprattutto alle Fashion e Art Week. La commercializzazione vera e propria avverrà dal 2014.

La Stan Smith è una di quelle icone che ha segnato la storia delle calzature, assieme a pochi altri modelli. E non è una “sneaker”, ma una “scarpa da tennis”, nel vero senso della parola. Ha un nome, un volto, un brand, una forma semplice e una versatilità d’uso che pochi modelli hanno. Come il vino buono più invecchia più è bella: nella mia scarpiera ce n’è sempre un paio malridotto, un paio usato poco, un paio nuovo ancora nella scatola, che non si sa mai. Più qualche paio che sta stagionando. Nei viaggi davvero importanti le ho usate e poi abbandonate nell’ultima tappa prima di tornare a casa, per poi comprarne di nuove al ritorno a casa.

Sono felice di sapere che potrò riprendere il mio rito col mito.

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Shiny happy feet

Some more memories from Milan Fashion Week.

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L’F shoes

My new article for Cool Hunting.

L’F is a line of unisex shoes from Licia Florio and Francio Ferrari, a fashion designer (Florio) and artist/photographer (Ferrari) who also live together. Wanting to create something together the couple came up with L’F, which is comprised of one style for men and women. The shoe comes in combinations of up to three colors, with various details available like studs and hooks. The fresh take on a classic, says Ferrari, was something that could “fully represent our identity.” We caught up with him to preview the Spring 2013 collection and talk more about the brand. Check out the interview below and the first line of L’F unisex shoes online where they sell from €215.

How was your collection born?

We started by hacking some bowling shoes, but eventually they all looked bad. So we decided to focus on something more elegant like a classic brogue—we removed tongue, laces and we started to wear them. We saw that we liked it and our friends started asking were they could buy them. So we entered the world of Italian footwear production, previously unknown to us but very fascinating. We got to work with talented craftsmen—genuine people with dirty hands, but who are able to create the masterpieces that everyone knows.

You are not a heritage brand—how did you want to approach an iconic object like the brogue?

We chose irony. Ours is a very serious shoe in terms of quality and production, 100% handmade in Italy by shoe manufacturers that make shoes for large international brands. They’re very comfortable shoes you can wear all day. However, the colors and materials and their combinations allow us to be fun and give our customers the opportunity to have fun every day. Then we took out the laces and in some models we filled the holes with removable studs, which can be swapped in and out.

We think that people should be brave with accessories, not only with our shoes. We noticed that L’F wearers pay much attention to socks (without the tongue they’re more visible) and tend to shorten their pants hem, to show their styling. We’re happy when our customers have the chance to have fun!

Who wears L’F?

We discovered we have a very wide target, without age limits. It often happens that mothers buy our shoes, and then their daughters steal them. Licia’s grandmother is a big fan of ours, but she just wants the studded ones.

What’s new for the next season?

Spring 2013 is our second official collection—we continue to work on the same model and reinvent it more and more, working on materials and soles. We have four soles: one white and one black “tank” sole, one sports Vibram sole and a sole with a band of microfiber between two layers of leather. In some models we included a hook taken from mountain boots, where you can put rubber bands instead of strings. Then there are different variations of pastel colors and metallic leather monochromes, purposely for fashionistas. We are aiming at extreme yet elegant shoes to give the wearer more fun and joy.

Excelsior Milano

My new article from Cool Hunting

Of the many upcoming events planned for the Vogue-sponsored global shopping push Fashion’s Night Out, the debut of Excelsior Milano might make the biggest splash. The work of Italy’s biggest fashion retailer Gruppo Coin, the new complex is located right in the heart of the capital of fashion in a former cinema that has been totally renovated by French starchitect Jean Nouvel.

We had the chance to visit the store before the opening to carefully observe every detail. The project is courageous and innovative; there’s a lot of empty space, proof of how the management chose to work on quality rather than quantity. Lending warmth and sophistication, the choice of lighting and materials, as well as the rhythm of volumes and surfaces, makes the space feel similar to a private art gallery.

Antonia, well-known for her taste and ability to mix avant-garde and business, is behind the choice of brands, clothes and accessories. As a result, Excelsior Milano perfectly balances the concept boutique with a department store.

On the first floor, the focus is on contemporary American designers (still slightly unknown in Italy) such as Theory, Rag & Bone, Alice and Olive and Vince. Mixed in among the clothing you will find home design by Skitsch and the accessories of Globe-Trotter, Mario Portolano and Antipast, as well as a Borsalino limited-edition made exclusively for Excelsior Milano. Other floors will offer more in the way of the pursuit of excellence with labels including Christian Louboutin, Giuseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo, Sergio Rossi, Pierre Hardy and Repetto. Also look out for items by Givenchy, Proenza Schouler, Zagliani, Marni, Chloé and Manolo Blahnik.

The ground floor will house a bar (open until 2am), cosmetics, flowers, the luxurious Ladurée macaroons, the sophisticated L’Olfattorio bar à parfums and Tiffany & Co.

In addition, Eat’s space is a real surprise—an actual supermarket, with fresh food, meat, fish, vegetables and wines. The restaurant will offer three dimensions, “now” for the elegant take-away, “fast” for the bistro characterized by seasonal specials, and “slow” for the more traditional restaurant, regularly hosting renowned guest chefs like Davide Oldani.

Excelsior Milano opens Thursday, 8 September 2011, and in other Italian cities over the next few years.

More images here.