Made in Italy at The Wolfsonian

The role of MITA, the Manifattura Italiana Tappeti Artistici from Genova, and its collaborations with frontrunners artists of the likes of Fortunato Depero, Gio Ponti, Arnaldo Pomodoro in the evolution of modernism from the Fascism era to the1970s.

The Wolfsonian inaugurated Made in Italy: MITA Textile Design 1926 – 1976, a collaborative exhibition with The Wolfsoniana, its sister museum in Genova.

Made in Italy illustrates a cross-section of Italian creativity orchestrated by one of the most resourceful entrepreneurs of the twentieth century,
— Silvia Barisione - Wolfsonian curator

The exhibition takes one back in time, along a trail of succession of avant-garde art movements, from Futurism to Abstract Expressionism through luxurious craftsmanship.  Shrewd entrepreneur and founder of MITA Mario Alberto Ponis projected the traditional manufacturing art of hand-knotted rugs to the wider spectrum of design and art.

With collaborations spanning decades that exude the classic artisanal traditions, MITA reinvented the conversation working with out-of-the-box thinkers of Modernism and extended their offerings to textile drawings, ceramic pieces and tapestries. After the long intermission of WWII, that saw the newly designed factory converted in a military facility and subsequently occupied by the Germans after the Italian armistice, the post war production represent an advancement in collaborative pieces. From creating one-of-a-kind productions for private homes, bars, clubs, restaurants, MITA’s footsteps in the world of interiors, culminated with being commissioned to produce upholsteries for Italian ocean liners and shipping vessels such as the Andrea Doria. 

Made in Italy illustrates a cross-section of Italian creativity orchestrated by one of the most resourceful entrepreneurs of the twentieth century,” said Silvia Barisione, Wolfsonian curator.

The exhibition showcases the invaluable and colossal body of work of an Italian factory that traveled around the world representing how merging new technology, artisanal tradition and avant-garde artistic input characterized the evolution of Italian taste. 

October was Italianness all around in Miami

The month of October has been filled with events related to the Italian heritage that’s both pretty spectacular and unusual in Miami.

Reminder that Italian style has that one elusive component that I have tried to nail down as “the intangible quality of chic” that may slip to the eye of the beholder. We are lucky, and often we forget how much beauty we are surrounded by, art, sceneries, architecture. In that boot of ours we hold 30% of the worldwide art patrimony, we grow up in a hedonistic reality. Ever wonder why we keep saying: “bello” and “bella”? Because the surroundings of our eye’s spheres are delightful, pleasant, harmonic like the foreground of the Mona Lisa. It’s like living in a movie scene where you don’t have to think if the panorama is beautiful, but you get sore eyes when it isn’t.

 Image courtesy of The Rhythm Foundation

Image courtesy of The Rhythm Foundation




Roberto Cacciapaglia is an Italian maestro, a musician, a professor, a composer and a researcher.

I have had the honor of attending the premiere of his first American tour, performed at the Bandshell, in North Miami Beach with the collaboration of The Rhythm Foundation.

Under the theme of Italianness, the performance of the Tree of Life, the soundtrack Cacciapaglia composed for the 2015 Milan Expo 2015, was an encounter of classical traditions and electronic music. His researches, collaborations and studies have contributed to expanding the reach of music out of the limits of performance that connects on an emotional level. Cacciapaglia’s compositions exude the traditional music reach, expand the sound of the notes and the speed of the music according to Pythagoras’s theory of music. The performance, that captured the attention of adults and children, was the first of his American tour that continued to nothing less than Carnegie Hall, San Fran and LA.

Mid October was the week dedicated to the celebration of the Italian language and under the patronage of Miami’s Italian Consulate and the President of the Italian Republic, Istituto Marangoni held the workshop Bodoni Fashion Evolution: from Giorgio Armani to Vogue, The Growth and Inspiration of a Font over the Years and Through the Media.

Istituto Marangoni wasn’t a casual choice, it’s first US campus in Miami occupies a historical building redesigned in all its interiors by Cappelletti in the refined, luxury-laden neighborhood of Design District. See what I mean when I say that our peripheric sight is spoiled by perpetual harmonic and beautiful surroundings?

Bodoni is a Serif’s family font, created in 1767 by our own Giambattista Bodoni who went down in history as the King of Printers. Surviving the signs of time for its aesthetics and unadorned simple elegance, the font has been associated with style and affluence and fast become popular in fashion and adopted by magazines of the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Elle and brands like Armani Exchange and Elizabeth Arden.

To file under “luxury is a state of mind”.

“The letters don’t get their true delight when done in haste & discomfort, nor merely done with diligence & pain, but first when they are created with love and passion.” – Giambattista Bodoni

When you think of a font in the contest of the evolution of a language in the era of social media, there’s a new paradigm that emerges with Italianness.

Conversations are now pictures accompanied by captions, usually sealed with a hashtag. Question is, how do you interpret and confine “la dolce vita”, slow living, the unmistakable Italian sarcasm, understated elegance, the Italian obsession with real food into a picture and a few characters?

The Italian language went through a process that could be equally defined adaptation and involution. The Enciclopedia Treccani (what we ALL had displayed in one full bookshelf back at home) recognized “instagrammabile” as a real word, a letter by letter from the English’s word Instagrammable in a continuous attempt at “Italianaiz de neim”. Do yourself the favor of reading letter by letter in Italian and realize that this is something that is hard for me too as a representative of Gen X and a Millennial wannabe.

Other examples are #fashionpolizia that stands for #fashionpolice, and #tilovvo for #Iloveyou and the twist of #streetliveetacco for #fashiongoals (in soccer language you make goal with the heel, tacco in Italian).

A hybrid language was born that is mostly unspoken, in the sense that it pervades the big chunk of conversation that Millennials and not conduct over their smartphones.

As per the images inspired by this crystalized idea in the collective imaginary that Italian style is Sophia Loren in the Italian Riviera in the ‘50s eating spaghetti, please refer to my book and to the entire curriculum of Istituto Marangoni to get acquainted.

Meanwhile, I hope I have sparked a bit of what’s the all-pervasive Italian style and indulge in the intangible quality of chic.

Fall is for changing wardrobes

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Chapter four of the book explains the lengthy, tedious, and exhilarating process of switching wardrobes with the changing seasons.

I still get the blank face when I tell people that yes even if I live in sunny all year long Miami, I switch wardrobes, but then when I go deeper and start asking questions and pretty much all the times I realize that although everyone has one system of organizing their closet, there are clothes that they wear in the summer that in the winter really not, same as evening stuff hangs separately from working attire.

We end up agreeing that, especially if you live in newer buildings where closet space is ridiculous, why clutter with stuff that you don’t wear?

If I can convince just one person of the benefits of switching wardrobes I am happy, and if you are that one and decide that it’s time to pull your most summer clothes aways from sight, this is also the time to eliminate the useless, the stuff that although it’s been hanging there, it’s been catching dust or the stains of the hanger.

Here’s the questions that, if you’d do a closet cleaning with me, I’d ask you. They are not the usual ones and hope you’ll enjoy.

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FIRST THINGS FIRST: ELIMINATE WHAT YOU KEEP TRYING TO WEAR AND DOESN’ T WORK

My favorite question and the one that nobody asks you. Those just go, they are not becoming and chances are they don’t deserve any waste of your time. The process of choosing what to wear in the morning or for an occasion is psychological, sociological, cultural and very much related to the moon, the stars or whatever crap affects your mood that moment, even if it’s your neighbor’s dog barking. It’s many feelings all together, but if they are not conducive to a better you, they are not worth it.

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WILL I EVER FIT IN THIS AGAIN?

Bam.

That’s not the right question to ask yourself on many levels. It depletes your confidence and diminishes your self-esteem under peer pressured “thin is good” image. If you haven’t worn that piece in a while it could be ‘cause of many reasons, but before that the question is “is this piece worth keeping?” It could be a made to measure suit, a family heirloom which you’d keep for the next generation, it could represent a pivotal moment in your life (I still have my first pair of Levis 501, because it’s like the first kiss), the intrinsic value, which only belongs to you, is what should help you make the decision, weight comes and goes, like seasons and men.

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WHY IS THIS IS STILL HANGING HERE AND I NEVER WORN IT?

Fair.

Last time I asked myself that question I was at my lowest point of self-esteem professionally, spiritually and personally, between a body that had changed after the birth of my daughter, changing jobs and residence because I was getting divorced: can you imagine a most perfect definition of a shitshow? And right then, when I had to resize in budget, pounds, closet space and donate stuff for free was when the whole system crashed. What I had bought was stuff, not fashion nor quality, it was worth just a pile of ill-fitting clothes, there was nothing to resale. That same pile of mindless purchases had caused a little bit of a credit card damage, credit that now I could use in a different way. After the purge, all was left worth altering, mending, fixing and sprucing up were all those same pieces that I had brought with me from Italy, the wardrobe I had been lucky to curate buying at sample sales and custom made by my dress maker. When quality speaks. 

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SHALL I COLOR COORDINATE OR DIVIDE BY TYPOLOGY.

Duh.

Abso-lutely. Again, positive on so many aspects of your life, that you’ll thank me later. The time spent in the closet looking for the right combination shrinks, the ideas of assembling things that you’d never think of putting together multiply, clarity and organization will make your mind brisk and your heart skip a bit.

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IF I PUT THIS AWAY UNTIL NEXT SEASON, SHALL I STILL WANT TO WEAR IT OR IT’S TOO TRENDY?

Tough.

I find that many clothes speak to me, mean something. There are some I wear exclusively to work, that mean business and aren’t child at play in the park enough to enjoy during the weekend or on vacation, sometimes we ought to look beyond and just choose, when making a decision. My best time to toss is when I pack for a move , when I am already in the state of mind of clearing paths and move forward.

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WHAT’S MY FAVORITE PIECE

It will make you giggly, I have things that go on rotation, I have things that I only wear when I feel energetic and at peace with myself, and things I wear when I am bloated, PMSing and when I hate everybody. I have these perfect of baggy khaki pants that I remember when and whom with and where I bought them, it was 5 years ago and they had lost my luggage at Malpensa. They always fit the purpose and make me look perfect and polished.

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 AND MY MOST HATED ONE

This is a good one and you’ll be surprised, but in resuming the clothes from the past season, there will always be something that reminds you of an unpleasant moment, a person to forget, and, it’s totally fine, go for it. I had these two coulottes I erroneously purchased under the impulse of the sales and I really never liked how they’d fit me. I truly disliked them, they made me look huge in the wrong places, unflattering. And “because they were on sale” I bought two colors, ended up being unworn and donated to the thrift store.

At the end of your journey, that will take a whole weekend at least, you’ll feel you went through the ghost of Christmas past, present and future, and maybe a bottle of prosecco, but you’ll feel so regenerated, clean, pristine.

Italian summer: while I was gone

I hit the OOO on July 4th and now that I am back, I have so many feelings. A detailed and scattered briefing of what happened while I was gone. Order is purely casual, importance is all on HIGH.

There were cicadas always and forever (I left them singing in my Highlight stories on Instagram)

Crickets at night: nothing more reminiscing of those hot, slow nights of confessions, kissing, planning the future ... everything. Talking about crickets, watch this video of the making of Rainbow Future by Salvatore Ferragamo. The undiscussed king of the platform revisited the Rainbow sandal made for Judy Garland in 1938 according to sustainability principles. It has obtained the ISO 14067, which means it's carbon neutral. And it doesn't finish here, only 100 will be produced, for each a certificate that will include 1 of the 100 trees that will be planted in the countryside of Catania, a gift that keeps on giving. 

If they were a song, they would be Umberto Tozzi "Ti Amo"


On the urban streetwear fashion, Dapper Dan collection launched by Gucci (make your enemies your best friends).


Meanwhile, across La Manche channel, Burberry disclosed burning billions of $ worth of merchandize in an effort to make the brand exclusive again ... good try.

WTF? This is the most outstanding unethical practice that only this damn 2018 could bring to surface. Talking about greenwashing. 


Eggs are kept on the credenza, not in the fridge, now you know it and sorry if I killed your vibe, but that's how it's done.  La frittata tastes totally different, also, there's no better fresh market than the zero mile aka next door neighbor: you only get what's in season, no kidding and no BS.


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Private viewing of monographic exhibition dedicated to Oscar Ghiglia by the curator, Elisabetta Matteucci. Fun facts: we went to the same high school, il liceo classico, and the foundation is headquartered in the v same Liberty style villa that used to belong to some of our family friends. The world is small, and Viareggio too, and made me think that even at +20 years away from the town, I have so many ties and roots that become alive in a jiffy.

Home is home.


The premiere of Turandot at the Festival Pucciniano, that is the open-air theater built in front of the house/museum where Giacomo Puccini lived and composed much of his portfolio. That is: tenor brings down the house, physically, with "Nessun Dorma", everyone stomping their feet screamed "BIS", orchestra stopped and he performed it again leaving everyone aghast. Can someone have cried? Asking for a friend. 


Brunello Cucinelli launches a new course for "le maestre di moda" in his Scuola di Solomeo, the village he has bought, refurbished and where he nurtures artisans and craftsmen with the arts of mending, mending knits, and confection. 

At Prince Louis baptism auntie Meghan wore olive oil green, which only looked good in the picture. I officially gave up with this one. 

Of course one is born with good taste. It’s very hard to acquire. You can acquire the patina of taste?
— Diana Vreeland

Shade.


The book was launched at Canto del Maggio

Simona, the owner and the fairy of the hill, made her wish come true and hosted a slew of events for artists, writers, authors.  It was magical and undeniably special for the flow of friends and family that flocked and made it a happy celebration.

Unfortunately, it will always hold an incredibly sad memory of a special soul, something too intimate to share, but I want to dedicate it to her, because she always brought that joy, and she didn't take it away with her, she left a bit in all of us who were lucky to have met her.

THE LOCATION

ATMOSPHERE

IT HAPPENED


The Italian hairdresser on a Saturday morning: an experience not to be missed. What was I thinking? I may have found a new tradition to add to: hot bombolone in pineta, pizzeria and second-hand bookstore in Naviglio Grande. It's gossip, feminism, friendship, roots, habits, polished life, family tradition, technique, slow time. It's a luxurious experience: hair color done with fair trade product by L'Oreal produced in India, the purity of primary colors activated by hot water, a nice soothing aroma therapy treatment while we chatted away about life.


 

Sir Hardy Amies, Savile Row couturier and one of Queen Elizabeth appointed fashion designers, gave us a lesson in clarifying the difference between style and chic. Check my Instagram post on it. I bought his auto-biography at Il Libraccio, the best second-hand bookstore, my brother found it for me. Coincidentally, in the plane ride to Milan, I was finally able to watch "Phantom Thread" and, besides the character being a bit cruel, a bit abusive, and a lot not to be liked, DDL kills it with "fucking chic" so much that it became a GIF. 

“Chic? Oh, don’t you start using that filthy little word,” he says, raising his voice.

“Chic! Whoever invented that ought to be spanked in public. I don’t even know what that word means! What is that word? Fucking chic! They should be hung, drawn, and quartered. Fucking chic.”

 

 

 

WHAT NO WOMAN OVER ____ (FILL IN) SHOULD OWN

This is not to be judgmental , but certain things you never do. I have compiled a list of what it would be much preferable for any woman of any age not to own or do. I swear, life would me much easier, simpler and grand without them lurking on our lives. 

DESIGNER PERFUMES: I have dedicated a chapter of the book to the joys of owning your own fragrance, that essence that precedes you, that makes people remember you, not sneeze nor get a sickening headache. There are fine fragrances, surely more expensive, but worth the life of a woman (and man).  

UGGS: with these I may win many enemies, but, to the same enemies, I'd love to ask when would I possibly wear them? And check very carefully the pictures above, before. 

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HAIR CLIPS AND SCRUNCHIES: unless you are in the bathroom, they are not worth the $4 at the dollar store

 

CUBIC ZIRCONIA: it's not a question of owning diamonds and the shiny status, there are many precious and semi precious stones one should consider before being blinded by a cubic zirconia. 

DORM GEAR: there's one thing clear to me, all those sweat pants, Solo cups, Bed, Bath & Beyond bed sets shouldn't belong not even to college students. Cecilia is well aware of it. 

DYI NAIL ART: just no. 

TUBE TOPS: unless you are going to Coachella. 

OLD, UNKEPT, WORN OUT, PLEATHER SHOES: it's not a question of spending money, one pair of good shoes, kept in pristine conditions, polished are better that some squeaky shiny flammable army of them. 

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LEGGINGS in any capacity that are not black and restricted in a gym. Unless your name is Cindy or Naomi. 

 

 

IT'S SEASON TO SWITCH WARDROBES: DO IT LIKE THE ITALIANS

Switching wardrobe when the seasons change is so Italian that we don't even know how Italian it is until we move to another continent. 

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Disclaimer: it may be a habit typical of other European countries, but I only know #theItalianway. Please comment, share, give your tidbits of knowledge about it that will help it become globally adopted. Collaboration is the word to help make the transition to a sustainable life smooth and positive.

Also: all pictures are from The Coveteur. 

On this subject, I have to share a major TIP: follow Clare Press’ podcast ‘Wardrobe Crisis’

Starting from an article posted in an Italian magazine, I'll take you through the most salient steps of the process. Remember, there's always chapter 8 of 'The Cheat Sheet of Italian Style'. 

1. UNLOAD THE HAUL

You gotta make it messy, before it becomes pretty. 

Unload everything, the season going and the season coming in.

Before retiring the outgoing stuff, think, ponder, look, become a "sorting expert" check the conditions, feel what comes to you, like, still with tags? why? it may be "currency", re-sellable?, there is always something that you have never worn that a friend could enjoy. See? It's a domino's effect: re-cycle, up-cycle, need a dress maker and seamstress, donate, re-sell online, visit consignment stores, attend a clothes swap (we are having one in Miami during Fashion Revolution week and tickets are HERE

2. SEPARATION ANXIETY

We are all for circulating energies, so don't you think this is a couple hours affair. Make it a weekend, invite friends, practice "giving", stop and think, be mindful, don't flagellate yourself into "oh how much crap I buy", you already did it, move on, as long as that crap doesn't land in a landfill you have done something good that will make you feel better. When you pile stuff (remember that episode of Sex & the City"?) divide and conquer, sleep on it, tomorrow they will "taste" different, you will think twice about something and decide to keep it, and that's good too. 

3. KEEP YOUR S&*T TOGETHER

And now that you are done with clearing up the hoarding and clutter, put to sleep the season that just finished, and display the new one, now for example it would be the spring and the summer. First, think about it, you'll have a brand new (pretend) wardrobe. All those beautiful dresses and shorts and shirts that you accumulated through the years but you haven't seen in at least 6 months. 

How do you rearrange and display your closet? 

Do you color coordinate?

Do you gradually organize by length?

Do you have enough space to fold and hang? Do you use the kitchen over like Carrie, do you hang your evening gowns on the library? 

How about the shoes? Flats to heels or by color? In my open concept closet I had in my first apartment in Milan, I had so much space that I could make display outfits, I remember scarves around the necks and belts hanging on the hangers (I also was working in a showroom and my mind was going with the sales campaigns and insane). 

What's your system? 

Join the convo and be lively. 

 

 

My Daily Muses - take two

Style stays but moods change and ideas flock accordingly. 

ANA GIMENO BRUGADA:

stylist and creative director, but essentially chic extraordinaire

SABINE GETTY 

A socialite, married into a Getty, born in Switzerland, living in London, jewelry designer. She is a "Madaaaaame", but what can you expect from someone whose wedding was THIS

Here's a video on 'how to chic' with her

 

LINDA RODIN

gorgeous woman, timeless beauty, and the first to create an oil when nobody had any idea. 

MISS PIGGY

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SOPHIE FONTANEL journalist and author, wit and opinionated, stylish and individualist. If you don't know her and you do a Google search, Instagram and grey hair come out, which is as limiting and shallow as saying that Italians eat spaghetti. She is a wit, vibrant, humorous, smart, intelligent, well educated and sophisticated author of two books who happens to also have an Instagram account and grey hair. 

My daily muses

Don't take yourself too seriously. 

Clearly Italian style is not easy to describe if it took me a book and nine months of intense writing to try and pin it down. 

And because a picture is worth many words, they say, it would make sense that I'd profusely share my daily outfits. Many women have asked me, whether Gen X or Millennials, Italian and not. Yet, you can barely find pictures of me, I am not comfortable at posing. More so, turns out that in all my life, when I had to dedicate time and efforts to something, like math, I was never able to produce a result appropriate to the amount of efforts I had input. 

There are many times I consciously admit the look I come out of the closet wearing would be worth a picture, but then I let the day go by and by the time I come back home from work the only thing i want is free the nipple and pajama mode.

It's only when I see the still life on the bed and the shoes compulsively thrown on the floor that I remember a picture of one of my muses on either Instagram or Pinterest. 

And because "a moment cannot be mass produced" and am sharing in no particular order the women whose style, pizzaz, femininity, class, elegance, brain stimulate my imagination and influence the way I dress. 

They are in no special order, not all of them are super popular and famous, because that's the way I do it. If you don't know them, find them on Instagram. 

One last thing: I chose pictures and portraits where they are not posing a lot, to leave that imperfection, unexpected mess, unpretentious beauty. 

Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert

 Erika Cavallini

Erika Cavallini

Eva Geraldine Fontanelli 

 Federica Mazzettini (she is one half of Asciari and featured in the book) 

Federica Mazzettini (she is one half of Asciari and featured in the book) 

J.J. Martin 

 Rebecca Moses 

Rebecca Moses 

 Rossella Jardini

Rossella Jardini

 Tamu McPherson

Tamu McPherson

 Uberta Zambeletti 

Uberta Zambeletti 

 Vivia Ferragamo

Vivia Ferragamo

 Viviana Valpolicella

Viviana Valpolicella