About a week ago we came back from Paris, in between our tight schedule we got to visit the Louis Vuitton store at Avenue Montaigne in Champs Élysées. It was not your normal retail visit; the VIP Manager of the store guided us.
Of coarse not only the goods, such as the Spring collection, handbags and other accessories but the decoration and the architecture would provoke a gasp or two for fashion devotees.
Kevin, the manager explained to us the beginnings of the brand and how production and operations work. We were taken to the private rooms where special clients are taken to make their customs orders.
It was such a nice experience to get an inside on one of the most iconic luxury brands, our guide Kevin was amazing and very inclusive, even knowing we are students we were still treated with excellence and professionalism.
Many of us spent the break traveling around or went home. We have come back felling refreshed and ready for a new semester. During Christmas I had the wonderful opportunity of spending the holiday with a Sicilian Family, where we basically sat at the table half of the day, between breakfast, lunch, aperitivo and dinner; enjoying not only the food but also the intense conversations. Moreover we spent the other half of the day harvesting and picking the fruits and vegetables to be used.
Now back in Firenze, I keep falling more and more in love with it, rediscovering new places with a different perspective. I might not be a local, but getting outside the student FIT bubble has truly helped me to absorb further the culture in addition to get to know myself better.
Palazzo Tornabuoni is s far one of the most magnificent places I have been lucky to visit during my stance in Florence. Big chandeliers, high ceilings and classic decoration make the place very inviting. The Palazzo is a restored building from the fifteen-century, what was back in that time an actual Medici residence. It is now a residence club; there are 38 apartments in total, 27 residences and 11 club residences. It took four years for the Palazzo to be restored and it shelters works of art and an incredible architecture collected from the previous owners as Alessandro Medici and the Renaissance Pope Leo XI.
During the visit we were explained how the idea of the club became successful, which is run by the Four Seasons Hotel. To become a member there’s fee to pay yearly and you acquire 3 weeks per year or you can also buy one of the residences starting at the modest price of 1.7 million dollars. There are members from all over the world, currently about 80 memberships and 11 apartment owners, a lot of them being around the age of retirement and have decided to move to the heart of Florence.
The manager also shared his story. How in his beginnings after graduating with a degree of tourism and hospitality he was working at a front desk in a hotel in Milan and eventually made his way to Florence and was offered the position as a Manager for the Palazzo. It is refreshing to hear stories from people that are humble and start from the bottom up, it encourages us students to follow our dreams.
Hats were a sign of status or a job, aristocracy wore the ultimate fashions and fanciest designs, it was a sign of success and wealth. It was disrespectful to walk outside of the house not wearing one, it used to be the completion of the outfit, it was almost as necessary as wearing a corset during the eighteen hundreds.
Visiting Memar Millinery was a remarkable experience, to see the entire process of different types of hats being made. The Memar Millinery is one of the last 3 factories left in Italy that has the means to have production in house. This company has a long history and prestige, as hats have been a tradition in Italy from centuries. The factory started in 1903, it is a family owned business that has been passed down from generation to generation. Memar has vendors, all over the world. They have worked with Macys, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and many more.
The factory has kept itself going by sourcing new materials, coming up with new techniques and collaborations with high-end designers. This way not only the quality of the materials and production is something to admire but the enthusiasm and spirit of competition.
We had a tour around the millinery facilities. Witnessing the work it takes for a straw fedora to be sewn and the shaping of felt and straw hats. Most of the raw goods come from Italian land but other sources are also used.
At last, we got to be hands on and decorated a hat of our choice.
I am a big fan of accessories but specially hats, after this visit I have learned to have a better appreciation of the craft and skills required for this labor. Memar millinery not only has years of quality and experience, but also passion and heritage.
It has been over a month since we arrived in this beautiful land that mothers the worlds finest architecture, art and fashion houses. Between school and settling down our schedule has been saturated. Last week we were lucky enough to be in Milan for fashion week. Even if we were not attending the shows we got a vast feeling of the city at its best.
The First stop was Como. We visited Riccardo Mantero Seterie’s office where we were presented from antique archives to current prints. That same afternoon we paid a visit to its factory Mantero Seta and had a tour throughout the color kitchen and the printing of designer fabrics. My heart skipped a bit when I got a glimpse of the double C’s on the printers.
Day 2 was a full Milano day went to the top of the Milan Cathedral. Dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente. Of course we had to get our retail therapy, or should I say observe and take detailed notes for our class at the department store Excelsior. One of the coolest environments I have been in. Following, we went to the trade show “White”. (sorry, no pictures) It was a great to see all of these fashion brands, from makeup and fragrance to shoes and accessories. Innovative beautiful quality shadowed most of the booths. To conclude our day, with a cherry on top went to Rossana Orlandi Concept store. Where art was the main component. Furniture and other pieces were manifested in all forms of beauty while some others might call it weird.
Our final day consisted in a series of fashion exhibits the 1st one was Palazzo Morando Custume Museum, followed by Vogue “Who’s Next” and Anna Piaggi’s “Hat-ology” and to wrap up our itinerary, one more retail store 10 Corso Como.
This voyage was truly enticing and inspirational, and this is just the beginning.