Evolution of European Fashion: Les Art Decoratifs, Paris

One of the activities we did in Paris during our academic field trip a few weeks ago was a visit to Les Art Decoratifs. It’s one of the better known museums in Paris, and there are always amazing exhibits going on there. We got a guided tour to Fashioning Fashion: Deux Siècles de Mode Européenne, 1700-1915, which showed the evolution of traditional European fashion from the beginning of the 18th Century until now. We lucked out with the best tour guide we could have asked for, who was enthusiastic and meticulously informative.

It was inspiring to see the way fashion has changed over the past couple of centuries for men and women. They certainly did not dress for comfort, and can you believe it took hours to get dressed each day?

Check it out!

Mid-October

Hey yall. I’m sitting home on a Friday night, writing my second blog post, after a tiresome week studying and living in Florence. Looking back on the past few days, it’s been pretty jam-packed. This past week was midterms, so you can only imagine our sleepless nights and our endless test-taking/project presenting. Renaissance Art required a ton of memorization and analytical thinking. We had a huge project due for The Business of Licensing class, so we were busy putting together a succint/informative physical presentation, and slaving away at our 28-page research paper on licensed goods. Leadership Development for Retailing had us quizzing each other with note cards non-stop, and I think we all basically know how to be managers at this point.

On Wednesday, we had one of our weekly FITSA meetings. We discussed some recent group activities, such as a hike through the mountains to Fiesole, our most recent potluck dinner, and a soccer game at Florence’s own “calcio” stadium. We also discussed things we’ll be doing together in the near future, ie: The Perugia Chocolate Festival (the BIGGEST chocolate festival in EUROPE and we are going TOMORROW!!!!!), more soccer games, cooking classes, and a trip to Venice for Carnival.

As I just mentioned, tomorrow we will be waking up bright and early to go to Perugia, where they hold a MASSIVE annual chocolate festival, called Eurochocolate. We are so extremely excited to stuff our faces with nothing but chocolate for an entire day. They apparently have some pretty groundbreaking choco-related things there, like a map of Italy (important monuments like the Colosseum/Duomo di Milano included) made ENTIRELY OF CHOCOLATE. As a big choco-head, I am personally excited beyond belief.

Today, we took a trip to Prato to see one of the biggest/most well known textile-industry locations in the world. It’s been producing yarns and wool textiles for over 1,000 years, so it was a pretty significant amount of fiber-observing/touching. We went to a Textile Museum, and did a lot of standing around, watching machines do their thing, spinning, stretching, manipulating and wrapping up long strings of fibers being spun into yarns. We saw the entire rainbow, every imaginable color of yarns. HOWEVER, I will be doing a separate post on this because I have so many fabulous photos to share from today.

Also, some of us were paid an in-class visit from Nita Tucker, who is an author, public-speaker, and is the founder of The Florentine, which is the only newspaper in all English in Florence. She was very inspirational, and has been on OPRAH!!! Perhaps that means as much to you as it does to me? She also told us some of her favorite places to go in Florence, which we are SO grateful for. Anyway, I will be wiring a special blog post just about her as well, so just put this thought in your back pocket.

So… to make a long story short, we finished midterms, went on a fun field-trip to Prato today, and will be going to the Chocolate Festival tomorrow. Things are swell for us here in Italy, to say the least. Also, I feel it’s worth mentioning that my friends and I found a GREAT Mexican restaurant and had delicious burritos (4 euro!) and a ginormous plate of nachos with salsa and guac (sort of hard to come by in Italia) (5 euro split b/w us!). I was feeling filled to the brim with Mexican, bean cheese and rice filled lovin’.

Below are some photos I took, hope you enjoy! Until next time, I’m Zach, 3rd year FIT student, studying abroad in Florence and loving life! xx

Vivi bene?

Chiaroscurro – a really good coffee bar

Across the Arno

Rainy Piazza Signoria

Mexican food in my belly!

A nice lil' tuscan country scene.

A nice lil’ tuscan country scene.

A medieval castle in Prato

This is how they make a heathered knit

some pretty cool yarns

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!