There has been much talk in recent years about artisanry; the paradigms of this world of crafts have been extensively rethought to overcome the challenges posed by global markets and new technologies while echoing renewed concern for environmental sustainability. Along with the theme of heritage, handcraft is increasingly the focus of attention in a fashion system undergoing radical change.In Italy there are still many crafts and special technical processes scattered throughout the country which represent a heritage of inestimable value to be learned and passed on. The main types of process in question range from embroidery to lace, from millinery to knitwear up to various techniques of weaving, dyeing and finishing. If updated and revised with the introduction of new technologies, this know-how can offer new interpretations and unusual creative ideas for fashion designers.
The art of millinery is the focus of Valentina Di Fronzo’s project Miss Gummo, launched in 2009 and specializing in handmade hats and fashion accessories. Through an ancient technique, acquired from her grandmother, together with new technologies and experimentation, Valentina realizes her creations with a sophisticate and ironic taste. Grown up in a family environment that allowed her to develop her curiosity and passion for style, after graduating in design, and after several collaborations, she decided to persist in her true passion: hats. So, she came out with her own line of hats, cloches, headpieces and headbands under the brand Miss Gummo Hats and Bonnets: unique pieces using vintage materials, created ad hoc for the haute couture market. Growing up with the smell of fabrics, antique wooden dummies and materials for applications, the young designer never abandoned the idea of creating refined headwear entirely by hand and in keeping with the millinery techniques of yore. Her collections, in addition to demonstrating an evolution in the way we perceive the hat, are also a perfect synthesis of the choice of Made in Italy materials and both eclectic and simple forms, which revisit the hat in different semantic keys. Her creations are in many cases made by moulage, a manual technique, whereby the fabric is ‘carved’’ directly on the manikin. Miss Gummo produces handcrafted headwear, following the ancient rules of millinery that have been part of the Milanese designer’s family tradition since 1913. Her creations are modeled on antique wooden forms and decorated with vintage materials of Italian provenance.
Colors, three-dimension, traditions and experimentation all in a unique word: knitwear. Carlo Volpi is a young Italian designer based in London who developed a strong passion for knitting from childhood. Both Carlo’s grandmothers worked in the sector so he has lived literally in a knitwear world since he was a child, surrounded by yarn and knitting machines thus he quickly develops a particular sensitivity for colors, textures and quality of yarn from a young age. In 2014 he launched his eponymous label, in which knitwear is the true protagonist: garments completely done by hand are marked by chromatic contrasts, experimentation and craftsmanship where Italian taste and traditions are merged with the London eccentricity; this has become the corner-stones of his creations. According to Carlo Volpi, experimentation using knit goes in multiple directions, what he loves more is the actual realization of matter made of experimental stiches and different materials, because knitwear is the only sector that, starting from a yarn, makes everything possible: it creates a fabric with unique shades, texture, color and materials combination. Carlo Volpi usually realizes just unique pieces or limited editions, with which innovative technologies and manual workmanship are blended. The result is an eclectic mix of handcrafted, conceptual and unusual creative ideas, that create garments able to suggest aesthetic notions of a traditional taste in which color is always the protagonist.
A handcrafted haute couture brand of hats launched in 2010 which uses feathers and materials from controlled and possibly recyclable sources. “Important hats for bright minds”: this is the philosophy behind the work of the Florentine Eleonora Bruno, born in 1987, and it perfectly defines her constantly growing stylistic research and the typical target of her brand. Indeed, her creations do not go unnoticed, as they are almost all unique pieces made exclusively by hand. Each hat is shaped in every step by the careful mastery of the designer, who skillfully selects the materials to be used and processing techniques adapted to each model. Thanks to her incredible and original intuition, Eleonora’s hats are much more than simple accessories, they can be defined as real “compositions to wear”, matching with a particular mood or state of mind. They are characterized by big floral elements, woven straw and innovative color contrasts showing a very lively style. She often takes inspiration from the authentic beauty of the natural world and in particular she loves the colorful feathers of the exotic birds and the fascinating marine world with its rare shells. The brand is a perfect combination of her artistic background with her personal vision and passion.
The “Best Italian Talent” Benedetta Bruzziches, as she was named by the National Chamber of Fashion and Altaroma, in 2009 founded, together with her brother Agostino, the company that bears her name. For Benedetta, the handbag epitomizes feminine intimacy, the quintessential space of personal storage, which must be the result not only of aesthetic, but ethical endeavor. For this reason, her production is exclusively artisanal and the raw materials are all sustainable. One of the strong points of the brand is its attention to the artisanal values, to the recovery of lost craftsmanship, such that Benedetta and Agostino like to call themselves ‘artisanauts’, part craftsmen, part argonauts, definitely navigators of dreams. Their company is about more than just bags. There is the rediscovery of the values of craftsmanship, along with a passion for the handmade and the beautiful, and the exaltation of the true value of work. It was in Caprarola, near Viterbo, that the Bruzziches siblings launched this project that combines craftsmanship and fashion, leading a team of artisans committed to the constant re-evaluation of age-old techniques, by now obsolete, in order to bring them back to life through a collection of bags. As a result, techniques such as intarsio sorrentino and the knitting methods of the Tuscia district have been revived.