Adventures in Milan

In the fashion world September means one thing, fashion week, and the spring/summer collections are about to walk down runways in cities across the globe. In New York there is fashion week and as a design student I’m far from oblivious to it, but this fashion week in Milan was really the first time I felt like I was involved in the process and not just another spectator. Our first academic trip this year was to Milan during as you might have guessed fashion week. Yet because this was an academic trip it afforded us additional opportunities. We could see things that on our own we would have never had access to.

It started with our arrival in Milan, first stop the Duomo. Personally this was one of my favorite parts of the trip, the building its self has such remarkable detail one can’t help but be awe inspired. The Duomo in Milan stands out though more than just because of its size, it’s the 3rd largest church in Europe and took 800 years to build, but because unlike other Italian churches it’s a gothic cathedral, more like Notre Dame than say the Duomo in Florence. One of the characteristics of a gothic cathedral is the amount of detail that goes into the structure, it is covered in statues and carvings that create little hidden surprises that you can find as you turn each corner. We got to take a roof tour we gave us a remarkable opportunity to see not only the building up close but afforded us a spectacular view of the square below.

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Next we went to Vogue’s who’s next, an exhibition of sorts that show cases up and coming designers and their work. What was interesting about this is that the ideas that these designers are presenting are a new point of view, which is why I like that more attention is being given to these remarkably talented people. After that we went to Corso Como 10, a unique gem that’s a cross between a department store and charming boutique. In many ways it seems like this fairy tale that’s hidden in this busy metropolis, from the outside all you see is an arch way with a sign overhead but walk through and your transported into someplace completely different. There’s a little courtyard cafe that’s surrounded by greenery that you walk through to enter the store. The colors are simple mostly black and white with greys here and there and the occasional pop of color, mostly due to the clothes, and with décor that gives it a sense of airy whimsy. Because it is a concept store you’re going to see things here that you would elsewhere, yet that is what makes it so fabulous.

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The next day featured what was the favorite stop for many, the Dolce and Gabbana factory. As a design major this visit was actually extremely insightful. It exposed us to what happens after you create your design going from ‘oh this is a cool idea’ to it being sold in a store. There are a deceptively large amount of steps to the process. We saw how they created the patterns for each garment and worked of the fabric layout to ensure the least amount of waste possible, to the people who checked all of the fabric that came through for imperfections or those who created all of the sample and runway garments. In the afternoon we went to the White trade show, which consisted of different companies and designers who were each presenting what they thought the future of fashion, might be. So not next spring, but the spring after, each designer had their own take on different upcoming trends.

d&g lakecomo               Our last day of the trip took place not in Milan but in Como, known in the fashion industry for its textile production and printing. We got the chance to visit the Ratti factory and archives. The Ratti factory is one of the better-known factories producing fabrics for the likes of Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, and Valentino. What is so amazing about the Ratti factory is that they do everything there in house, they take the threads weave them into fabric and then print them using multiple different methods. At the archives they were featuring an exhibit on Emilio Pucci, who had had a lot of his fabrics printed by Ratti in the 1950’s. When they went back through their archives they found they had several examples of his prints, with original sketches and test prints along with swatches of the final fabrics. We were also shown some of the textiles that they have in their archives, some dating back to the Renaissance, each one we were shown had it’s own kind of artistry to it. I saw so many amazing things on this trip it has only made me want to go out and see so much more.

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Venice Biennale

 

On November 5-6th, we took an academic trip to one of the most beautiful places in Italy, Venice. In Venice, we visited one of the most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions, La Biennale, which includes the fine arts, film, architecture, music, performance, and more.

We split up into two groups when we got there, both included guided tours around the various pavilions. Our tour-guides were very insightful, as they explained the artists’ outlooks and artworks. My group started our tour in the British pavilion where we got to enjoy a delicious cup of tea on the building’s balcony. After touring around a few other pavilions, we were let to explore the grounds of the Biennale on our own.

There were artists from all over the world, from Europe, to South America, to Asia, many of which are very different from each other, however they all really captivated the essence of their countries’ traditions.

The Biennale is definitely an event to attend if you want to a universal collection of contemporary artwork. It was a good break from all the Renaissance Italian art that we’ve been seeing.

Milano

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.

-Natalie

What’s Gucci, yo?

Hey guys!

My name is Zach, and I’m studying International Fashion Merchandising/Marketing in Florence for my 3rd year at FIT. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be blogging for the FIT in Florence blog now!

Today, us Merchandising/Marketing students took a trip to the GUCCI Headquarters, located in Scandicci, just outside of Florence. In this particular building, there are 1,200 employees. Despite the pouring rain, we were all wide-eyed and excited to see the secrets held inside of this huge designer facility. Upon arrival, we received guest passes with our names on them to be worn around our necks.

We were greeted warmly by a girl who was not much older than us students. She studies part time in Milan and works full time as an assistant to the Production Manager for Gucci in Scandicci. She gave us a tour of each department of the facility. Here, they develop products and create all of the prototypes which are then sent out to 60 different factories who produce and assemble the goods. We were shown an archive of every textile used for their accessories. Every kind of leather (crocodile, python, Louisiana alligator, ostrich) with every type of finish imaginable. I personally loved the black “rubberized” leathers. The things I’d do for a motorcycle jacket of this material! We saw furs of all forms and colors, synthetic materials, sheet-thin deer-skin, and more. The artisans showed us how they cut the leathers, using only the most flawless parts of the leather and using the less-nice parts for finishing touches and small goods. They source from the best tanneries located in Florence. Everything is hand cut using a very tiny, special cutting knife that’s sharpened before every use. Going through the workshop, we saw tons of skilled workers, each working on a different Gucci product, mainly handbags. There is only one man who makes the customized travelling trunks. They take about a month to make each, and sell for an unimaginable amount. You can take your pick from buying a new house, or a hand-made Gucci trunk. Some recent clients mentioned were Rihanna and John Travolta (who apparently uses his two trunks as coffee tables). They can be made with any textile of your choice, and are finished with luxurious hardware, usually gold. Lastly, we were taken to “the bamboo room.” This is where they finish, heat and reform stalks of bamboo for their famous “bamboo bag”. The bamboo is imported from China, and only the roots are used because they are strong and not hollow like the plant itself.

Walking through the halls of Gucci’s headquarters is an overwhelming feeling. We all know gucci, and the quality that is associated with it. Some of us know the crazy story of the Gucci family (Guccio’s vision, the rebellion of his grandchildren, Maurizio’s assassination). Gucci represents a powerhouse of a family, their struggles, and their triumphs. Along the walls are black and white photographs from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s, showing family members, celebrities, and handsome people wearing Gucci. The lights inside were bright and everything sparkling clean. I hope to someday work at a place like this.

The next time you see a Gucci bag, consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making it. Know that it passes through this facility in Scandicci, and is, in every aspect, a luxury item!

Paris… The City of Opportunities

Paris brings a lot of opportunities for fashion design students. Being in Study Abroad with F.I.T. we have the advantage of going to different places. We went to the YSL foundation where they have kept every single fashion drawing that Yves Saint Laurent ever drew. We also met an eco designer by the name of Eva Zingoni who had an Intern that was mentored by Zac Posen and is now working free lance in Paris at the age of 23. Eva Zingoni’s Idea of taking the unused fabrics from top end designers reinvents the idea of moderation and using surplus to one’s advantage. First ever tour of the Hermes store in Paris was given to all the fashion design students from Florence attending F.I.T. We learned about every little detail of the reason things are decorated a certain way and we heard many different stories about all the celebrities that had visited the store. In Paris there is a store on Rue du Bouloi that takes eating to a whole new level. Many fiction writers have imagined that in the future we would all be drinking fumes and eating magic pills. Who would have thought that drinking fumes is possible today? The Lab Store created this candy tube called le whiff where you breathe in the partials of chocolate get a great full mouthful of flavor without the calories! We also went to Premier Vision and a couture pleater and my favorite… The Louvre!!  Paris was incredible, thank you again F.I.T. in Florence!!! Oh and here is a hint about what spring/summer of 2013 will bring: A lot of Green!