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.

Paris’ Most Beautiful Boat Cruise

This week our school took a fantastic academic field trip to Paris. During the trip, FITSA organized an activity to take a boat cruise on the River Seine. While the weather was quite cold, the sights were fantastic. Everything from the Eiffel Tower, to the historic Notre Dame was visible from the boat. This was all experienced with a fantastic Nutella crepe in hand, provided by the on-board cafe. Everyone had a great time.

Hike up Fiesole!

In one of the first FITSA events of the new semester, we planned a trip to go to the city of Fiesole. The catch was, not only were we going to the city, we were going to hike to the top of the mountain the city sits in the middle off.

The hike started off simply merely walking the streets of Fiesole up gently sloping hills. However, in time the “hills” became mountainous and the paths became dirt.

After hiking for two hours we finally reached the top of the mountain. Arriving at the summit gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. The view from the top was fantastic and we could see all around the surrounding valleys.

In retrospect, while I was very tired, I enjoyed the hike immensely. I was also able to take some fantastic panoramas of Firenze from the mountain!

A Hard Rock Christmas

In the spirit of the holidays, FITSA (FIT Student Activities), decided to throw a program wide Christmas party at the Hard Rock Café in Florence.  This was an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate the Christmas holidays together, as well as say goodbye to those semester students in our program, who are returning to FIT in New York for the spring semester.

Our group was seated in the best part of the restaurant, which was right in front of the stage. Since originally the Hard Rock was a movie theatre for the people of Florence, the stage featured a large silver screen which was playing rock and roll music videos.  The entire building was decorated beautifully.

After socializing for a bit, it was time for the meal. The menu was fantastic. It featured all of the “American” delicacies we had been missing; ranging from Burgers, to New York Strip Steak. I decided to indulge in the messiest of all choices, and chose the “BBQ Baby Back Ribs”. They were exceptional, and it was made better by the traditional American ice-cream Sunday topped with a cherry, to conclude the feast.
We concluded the party by taking pictures together and reminiscing about the fun times we had during the semester. It was a bitter-sweet moment for everyone, yet everyone still had a blast.