A Trip To Italy’s Fashion Capital

To say how crazy it is that I have been here in Florence for a month already is a complete understatement. The weeks seem to go by so fast, and the weekends speed by even faster. Having Fridays off is great and it allows for more time to travel, whether it be inside Italy or to another country. I have been trying to keep a list of all of the amazing restaurants, stores, gelaterias, etc. that are my favorite, but I just can’t find enough time to  jot everything down!

Day at the Duomo di Milano

Day at the Duomo di Milano

This past weekend (from Sunday to Tuesday) all 70 of us FIT students made our way to the fashion capital of Italy. We arrived early Sunday morning and from there we began our adventure. Our trip started out with us dropping off our luggage to our hotel and then making our way to the “Super Collections” trade show that was occurring. Once we were there we walked around and looked at all of the amazing merchandise that was being shown. It was great to see merchandise at an international trade show, as most of the merchandise, let alone brands, were all very unfamiliar to me. I was personally able to see a multitude of brands and companies that are not shown at trade shows in the U.S. During the trade show, we were all able to complete our findings for two of our fashion merchandising classes which was very helpful.

Top Of The Duomo

Top Of The Duomo (Samantha Seltzer, Teresa Kelly, Kayleigh Folster, Caitlyn Hansen, Hannah Charles and Kathleen Arias)

After we left the trade show we took the metro to the Duomo and from there we began to see the real city of Milan. Milan fashion week was occurring while we were still there and Milan is of course, known for its one of a kind fashion. Stores on every corner and people bustling throughout the city streets. We were fortunate enough to take a guided tour of the Duomo di Milano which led us up the stairs of the Duomo itself and out on the main rooftop. While sitting there, it was an unbelievable feeling, to actually sit and think of where I was sitting in that very moment.

Monday rolled around quite soon, and our day was full of fashion visits and a trip to Como to see the silk factories and textile factories.  Our FMM group was split into two and I visited the Mantero Factory. It was amazing to get to see how brands such as, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood and Valentino print their silk scarfs. There were silk screen printing and  digital printing. It was interesting to see which form companies print their merchandise on. Higher end brands normally print through silk screen printing since it takes longer and to uses more materials and lower end companies use digital printing. Having observed both, they seemed both very efficient and both of good quality. After visiting the factory we were able to see the archives of the Mantero company and view their oldest fabrics and books used. Once that was over we were able to enjoy the rest of Como and take in all of its beauty. Como is a very pretty city and very quiet (now I know why George Clooney chose to have a house there). The lake is beautiful and relaxing and after lunch my friends and I ate a gelato as we walked around the lake.

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Gucci Print at Mantero Factory

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Archived Fabrics From Mantero

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1938 Chanel Advertisement

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Lake Como

After a full two days on Sunday and Monday, Tuesday was just as busy. Fortunately, we were able to wake up later and get in as much sleep as we could (I mean, what college student doesn’t love their sleep?) Anyway, Tuesday morning we were off to have private store visits of both the Excelsior and LaRinascente department stores. Both of which are two very different stores targeted to two very different demographics of customers. The Excelsior store is on the more higher and exclusive end of the spectrum and LaRinascente is targeted toward the higher end everyday shopper, almost like a Bergdoff Goodman’s or higher end Bloomingdales. After our tour we were headed over to the Chagall Exhibit that was going on. We had a guided tour as well, and it was very informative and interesting to hear about Marc Chagall’s inspiration and life as an artist. After looking through the exhibit it was time to hangout and tour Milan on our own. From there we shopped, ate lunch and took in as much as we could.

Pizza From Milan

Pizza From Milan

After a long three, exciting, yet tiresome days of fashion and travel, it was time to head back to Florence. We took a 7:30 train and we were back to Florence around 9:30. It was a great trip and an overall wonderful experience. I loved seeing all the sites and gaining the first hand knowledge from the factories and tours. After this trip, I can’t wait to see all of the other wonders that are out there. Arrivederci!

Memar Hat Millinery

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.

WHITE Fashion Trade Show Milano

Many of us FIT bloggers so far have written about Milan, but I feel as if I should elaborate on the the fashion trade show, WHITE, because it has been one of the most exciting fashion events I’ve ever been to and the most exciting even during our stay there. WHITE is for buyers that are interested in new labels for their store, and also for the press to help expose new talent to the world.

As a first year fashion design student, demotivation is something that will happen, since in the beginning you need to learn how to adjust yourself to be precise, which is something very difficult to do. However, this event allowed me to see what happens after the struggle of learning the technical processes of designing. There is an endless sea of creativity, and this can definitely be seen at WHITE.

 We got to interact with new designers that are eager to put their collection out there to the world. Some designers and brands that caught my attention were: PAOLA BALZANOA-LAB MILANOCC KUOVALENTINA DE PIETRIKTZLONDON INK (they have cool t-shirt prints), THE TEXTILE REBELS (they have very bold all-over prints on jackets and sweaters), and UNFLEUR. However, there are hundreds of designers in womenswear, menswear, accessory design, and footwear, that participate in this event. The best part is that the designer can actually express their mindset to you about their collection and their vision.

 A designer that really inspired me was Paola Balzano. She has a very artistic and innovative vision that she put to practice through her collection that she was showcasing. She used her paintings as the prints that would be on her garments, which I thought was really great because I feel as if sometimes people believe that painting and fashion needs to be two separate things. As a future designer, I would also like to incorporate some of my personal artworks into my fashion.

 Besides the amazing fashion, you can get a lot of free magazines, or even buy fashion magazines that aren’t usually sold at your local newsstand, which is great.

 I think if an opportunity comes up for you to go to a fashion trade show, say yes. It’s an amazing event!

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

FERRAGAMO: History that is RTW

Today, the FM students visited to the Salvatore Ferragamo headquarters, located here in Florence above the Ferragamo flagship and museum. The corporate offices are in an incredible Renaissance palace, belonging to Ferragamo since the 1940’s.

We met with their Management/Merchandising team, an elegant group who carry out all of the production, from sourcing raw materials and working with the design team, to fashion shows and in-store delivery which is of course, global.

It’s inspiring to see how the legacy of Salvatore is carried out and translated to RTW, something that Mr. Ferragamo did not specifically specialize in. The team still uses values and construction processes from almost century ago.

After a lovely and informative presentation, we had a coffee reception with the team and heard some wise words from Ferruccio Ferragamo, son of Salvatore, pictured below. What a privilege! We then concluded our appointment with a visit to the museum, now featuring an exhibit of Marilyn Monroe.