It is a trip in search of Italian excellence, from North to South, by way of stories about life and passions. The stars are Italy’s master artisans, the invaluable guardians of a unique heritage that is treasured and recognised around the world. All of the images in this article are of custom-made Italian fashions, a guide to the one hundred finest fashion houses in our country. Studios, raw and manufactured materials, important businesses hidden from view, off the beaten path of tourism and lifestyle circuits, that testify to a cultural heritage that is invaluable and unique.
Fratelli Levaggi, furniture
Chiavari (Genova) / levaggisedie.it
Since 1963, the handcrafted Chiavarina chair has been made here, created originally in 1807 by the very talented ebony carpenter Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi. The Levaggi brothers have handed down a manufacturing tradition that is almost two centuries old: the wood is selected from the forests of the Ligurian hinterland based on the phases of the moon, aged naturally up to five years and worked entirely by hand. For the assembly, animal glue heated in a bain marie is used, and the joints are calibrated one by one striking them rather forcefully with a mallet to ensure they last for an extraordinarily long time. Of the utmost elegance and simplicity, Chiavarina chairs offer a level of lightness and robustness that is still unparalleled.
Firenze / saskiascarpesumisura.com
Perhaps the only female shoemaker in the Western world, Saskia is a young woman from Berlin who learned to craft custom-made shoes from the greatest German masters. For 15 years, she has been operating a workshop in the historic town centre of Florence where she makes shoes for VIPs and dandies from the world over. The shoes are made completely by hand without regular patterns. Customers explain their needs and these are used as the basis for designing the shoe in calf, kid, shark, camel, kangaroo or elephant leather. “A pair of well-made shoes not only makes it easier to walk, but is fundamental for living well … True artisan shoes are not created just by taking measurements. When I meet a customer, I listen to his or her story and take note of his or her desires”. And then transform them into exceedingly elegant and unique objects.
Antica Manifattura Cappelli, hats
Roma / antica-cappelleria.it
The oldest Roman hat workshop and the only one to receive recognition as a Bottega storica di Roma (Historic Workshop of Rome). Created in 1936 with the Cirri family, who were themselves hat makers in Tuscany, the business was resurrected and remade itself in 2003, thanks to the passion and tenacity of Patrizia Fabri, who took over rebaptising it “Antica Manifattura Cappelli”. Made entirely by hand in Italy, the hats are accessories that have been created to highlight the face and personality of the wearer. Exclusively custom-made, the process begins by following the tradition of using wooden blocks, followed by manual pressing. Next to the workshop is the boutique, where Fabri educates customers on the elegant use of the hat using styles for every day and every season of the year.
Gio Batta Morassi, musical instruments
Cremona / morassi.com
Gio Batta is the founder of Morassi, a dynasty that creates some of the most renowned instruments in the world, winning a very long series of international awards and recognitions. Grand Master of Cremona’s violin makers, founder of the Associazione Liuteria Italiana (Italian Violin Makers Association), Gio Batta’s passion, methods and skills have been carried on by his son Simeone and nephew Giovanni Battista. The workshop is a pilgrimage destination for musicians and collectors from around the world who are in search of exclusive instruments, created using the extremely meticulous method of Cremona’s violin making tradition, working entirely by hand without machinery. This tradition has been classified by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.
Alessandro di Giacomo