Lladro Porcelain: Capturing the Stillness of Life

The First Time I Saw Lladro Porcelain

On one of the many Sunday morning walks with my parents in my little hometown, two family friends who owned a decorative objects shop waved at us and called us in for a quick chat. I knew that shop very well from the outside: it was on the main road and its windows were full of figures in porcelain and crystal, which always fascinated me so much. Little I knew that what they kept inside, safe from the outer world, would fascinate me even more.

That morning, the first memory I have of ever entering that shop, was the first time I saw a Lladro porcelain statuette. It was a dancer gently posing with such grace, and so perfect with its unrealistically shiny and pearly skin-tone.

A Lladro dancer

I was flabbergasted. How could something so hard as porcelain look so delicate and alive? Even if I knew this could never happen, I started waiting for the little figure to become alive and start dancing, like a real ballerina. I guess I was so absorbed in going through all the details of this little figure that the shop owners saw me and, like a granddad does with his little granddaughter, started telling me the story of how someone in Spain handmade this little beauty.

The Lladro Story

Oriental Themes

Lladro started off as a family business when two Valencian brothers began experimenting with porcelain in the 50s, hand-making sculptures under the influence of a major trendsetter from Meissen, Sèvres and Capodimonte. Since then the business has become known worldwide thanks to their innovative production processes, their commitment to fighting inequality on the workplace. And of course, above all, for the beauty of their sculptures, inspired by timeless classics, exquisite floral details and even contemporary fairytales.

A Lladro Angel

I cannot help feeling lighter, more content and in a way inspired whenever I lay my eyes on these figures. Now as when I first saw that ballerina, this shiny porcelain takes my daydreaming to a whole new level of grace and aesthetic perfection. And while I am waiting to have a house of my own to decorate with at least one of these sculptures, as I promised myself to do when I was young enough to make these sort of life goals, I pick my favourite subjects. Like this couple here: how could you not think that a soft spring breeze is actually making her wedding dress gently flutter away?

Lladro’s “Everlasting love” figure

VIBE: What Happens when a Millennial Exports Italian Luxury

Meeting Beatrice de Grandi of VIBE

One of the perks of studying Business in Milan is the different types of people you get to know. And it gets more and more interesting if you actually cultivate your interests through associations, museum exhibitions and cultural events. Few months ago, for example, I got to know Beatrice de Grandi of VIBE through one of the meetings of the Bocconi Students for Fashion Association.

Beatrice de Grandi, Founder of VIBE

Beatrice de Grandi is the founder of VIBE, an e-commerce website specialising in selling Made-in-Italy luxury accessories internationally. Nothing special, you may say. But then, let me add one little detail: she launched her business while at university and, mostly importantly, when she was just 20. Have I sparked you interest now?

As a young woman who relentlessly worked towards the realisation of her business idea no matter how many hurdles she had to overcome, Beatrice taught us that even luxury can be rethought to be closer to younger generations, to be agile in this fast changing and technologically endowed world.

One of the bags on sale on VIBE

As I have been trying to show with these little compositions of mine, luxury is not just about expensive prices and affluent consumers. It is a way to enjoy beauty, design, craftsmanship, uniqueness, creativity, giving full credit to the makers of the experience or object we are benefiting on.

VIBE makes artisans and handmade accessory enthusiasts feel closer, even if they may be geographically very far away. And Beatrice adds her marketing skills to this recipe, finding the right compromise between the artisans creativity and customer needs. So next time you read another article about how the fashion and luxury businesses are doomed to failure because of their inability to innovate, maybe remember that fashion and luxury are not a dictatorship of few big brands. Supporting niche players and artisans, like VIBE does, is the way to keep making the most beautiful and innovative creations to the enjoyment of others.

Some of VIBE’s best sellers at a promotion event
Some of VIBE’s best sellers at a promotion event

 

The VIBE e-commerce site

THE PANERAI WATCH: Luxury, Sporty, Maritime Italian Heritage

Panerai, Diving into the Superb Watchmaking World

Towards the end of my final year at university, I found myself wanting to get more business insights from the luxury sector. So, I did my best and secured an internship within a public relation agency specialising in luxury brands. Among their clients was the maker of the Panerai watch, Officine Panerai, a luxury but sporty watchmaker brand of Italian heritage.

Details that Overwhelm the Senses

On the last day of my internship, where I spent hours and hours on their Social Media monitoring the Panerai hashtags and feed, they showed me a real Panerai watch, in leather and steel. And when you hold a Panerai watch for the first time in your own hands, so many details come to mind that the senses are almost overwhelmed. The materials, the colours, the style, the weight and the see-through back showing perfectly functioning mechanisms, all fight to be the first detail to surprise the human.

An elegant Radiomir Panerai Platinum. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
An elegant Radiomir Panerai Platinum.

So, then you take a breath and decide what design element to notice first. What to touch? To feel? The warm leather of the strap or the ice-cold clock face? Then you start combining all these elements together and you realise that the next thing you want to save for is a Panerai watch.

A very faithful revival of a classic Panerai watch, the Radiomir.Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
A very faithful revival of a classic Panerai watch, the Radiomir.

The Panerai Universe

Beyond the fine craftsmanship, a Panerai watch is one of those luxury goods that tells a story, that makes you enter a whole world. The Panerai universe was created in 1860 in Firenze (Florence) by the watchmaker Giovanni Panerai with the first shop and workshop, as well as the first Swiss watchmaking school in the city.

Giovanni Panerai posing in front of its shop in Florence in the 19th century. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
Giovanni Panerai posing in front of its shop in Florence in the 19th century.

The Radiomir

And as it happened for many other brands with such a long heritage (think about Burberry for instance), wartime played a huge role in bringing them to fame. It was to satisfy the requests of the Italian Royal Navy indeed that one the most iconic and best-selling Panerai models was born, the Radiomir. With fluorescent dials, a water-resistant strap and almost indestructible features, this Panerai watch model was the future in a time where innovation was a competitive edge.

The Laminor model, an evolution from the Radiomir. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
The Laminor model, an evolution from the Radiomir.

From the Radiomir model, then, the evolution of Panerai watches continued through the Laminor, the Egiziano, and the Mare Nostrum. This isjust to mention a few. And throughout its evolution, Panerai stayed faithful to its origins. This holds true even now as a subsidiary of the luxury conglomerate Richmond.

The Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge is the leading international classic and veteran boat circuit sponsored by the omonimous Florentine luxury watch-maker. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
The Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge is the leading international classic and veteran boat circuit sponsored by the omonimous Florentine luxury watch-maker.

The Panerai Maritime Lifestyle

By reviving its old classics in modern times, while adding new technological innovations like an 8-day automatic power reserve, Panerai remains an integral part of that ancient maritime lifestyle from which its myth was created. At the same time a Panerai watch is a must for sporty and stylish gentlemen, devoted to classics but modern and trendy at the same time. So, picture this: a nicely tanned, good looking sailor with a Luminor on his wrist and at the helm of a classic yacht. Isn’t it the sweetest dream?

 

INSIDE LA RINASCENTE: A Chat Over Dinner with CEO Alberto Baldan

You may think that I am exaggerating, and to some extent it is true. I did not dine privately with la Rinascente CEO Mr. Baldan, but this is how the evening felt to me. When I saw the event promoting a tasty aperitivo with the CEO of the most famous department store in Italy, I thought of one of those networking events where the guest awkwardly speaks for 5 minutes and then has to rush away. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Organised by Hub Giovani, a group of inspired young students and professionals who get together to discuss about work, culture, innovation and much more, the aperitivo with Baldan was so enjoyable and relaxed that you almost forgot to whom you were talking.

Alberto Baldan, la Rinascente CEO with a wooden model of the store. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
Alberto Baldan, la Rinascente CEO with a wooden model of the store

Meeting Mr Baldan

As soon as he arrived, Baldan started mingling with the audience, being very welcoming and kindly replying to all the sorts of curiosity anyone could think of. When he started addressing everyone, the real “talk” of the evening, he narrated the story and later develpoments of “La Rinascente” with such pride that you may think he actually funded it.

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La Rinascente, view from Piazza Duomo

The History of la Rinascente

Interesting to know (and maybe not everyone actually knows it) is that la Rinascente was funded by those Bocconi brothers who, after having established and run a very successful department store in the heart of Milan, decided to go and fund Italy’s first Business School to pass on their knowledge. And Baldan actually confessed that this part of the department store heritage, together with its name (actually proposed by one of the major Italian writers and artists of the twentieth century, Gabriele D’Annunzio) is what makes him so honoured to work in such a well known establishment.

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BRUNELLO CUCINELLI: A Beautiful Italian Excellence

In a very sunny and warm afternoon in Milan, Brunello Cucinelli spent few good hours inspiring young students and luxury enthusiasts telling his story, his ideals, and of course giving some advice. The event had been titled “La bellezza salverà il mondo” (“Beauty will save the world”) and nobody more than Cucinelli could be a better ambassador for what he believes is the only way of doing business.

“La Bellezza Salverà il Mondo”

What is so special about his business model? The pursuit of uniquely high quality in all garments he designs and produces, the respect for the human being and his employees above all, the support for the local community and the love for everything that is beautiful (let it be a theater to be restored or even the new factory to build) are the pillars of his vision.

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Brunello Cucinelli

Profits are Not Everything

Mister Brunelli Cucinelli does not run his luxury business in a silo: he experienced first hand the depletion of the surrounding natural resources and how bad brutal work conditions may affect a person. And this is the reason why he feels responsible to be the change, if you allow me, to lead the change with other fashion brands in the name of “sustainability”. During the conference he could not stress enough that profits are not everything. He stands by this belief so much that before someone becomes shareholder of his company, he invites them to the factory in a small town in central Italy because they are not simply investing money in a business, but in a philosophy.

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Brunello Cucinelli advertising campaign

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JUST CAVALLI: Luxury on the Rocks

Yes, I did it! What, you may ask? I’ve moved to Milan!

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Milano Main Square, Piazzo Duomo

After working and studying in London for years (with a tiny one year break in Nice), I had this brilliant idea to move to Milan to pursue my career dreams. In the meanwhile I’ll also finish my graduate studies.

And as some of you may already know, I must agree with a few stereotypes that people proudly describe after visiting Milan. It is indeed the City of Fashion. The eclectic parade of trendy designers clothes at Milan fashion week just ended. Plus, you constantly breathe this atmosphere of luxury living, spotting Ferraris almost everyday.

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A Ferrari parked outside the Versace flagship store in Via Montenapoleone

Completely in line with this premise, during the first week of courses my whole new class had aperitifs (These early dinner drinks, very trendy all over Milan, are a must for everyone visiting!) at the Just Cavalli club, no less! Sounds fancy, right?

We had a lot of fun together, sipping exquisite Mojitos and enjoying a well varied buffet and music selection. But what caught my attention were the bottles of Roberto Cavalli vodka displayed all over the place.

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The bottles of Roberto Cavalli Vodka displayed at the Just Cavalli Club in Milan

I couldn’t help myself looking for more details about Just Cavalli. What intrigued me most was the bottle, I would say. It looks so attractive, you almost forget the alcoholic nectar inside.

For the joy of party people, you can taste it and have it in the cocktail you prefer in the most exclusive and trend clubs worldwide. Or it’s available on Amazon with free delivery in some selected countries.

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Besides the attractive packaging, this completely made in Italy spirit is generally reviewed as a good quality vodka. So someone could argue that if the taste is common, why bother? Well, if you find yourself having a fun night in one of those exclusive clubs, in the company of your favourite people while on holiday, and you still want a good reason to try it, I leave you the description that Roberto Cavallo personally gave:

I love the pureness of vodka, especially of my vodka: it is like water and fire coming together in a single element.
Roberto Cavalli

THAT CLOSER LOOK: One VIP Invite for the Next Dolce & Gabbana Event, Please

Following Dolce and Gabbana’s Alta Moda in Naples, I could not have felt more proud and in total admiration. Being from Pompei, the world famous Italian archeological site, I know Naples as not just the closest city but also the symbol of my southern Italian roots. Watching what the fashion duo was able to organise in those streets where I usually have pizza with my friends or where I go shopping, my eyes simply shone in adoration.

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A shot of the advertorial campaign inspired by Alta Moda

Let’s start from the advertorial campaign inspired by Alta Moda. The pictures, savvily shot by the brave Franco Pagetti (who frequently shoots in war zones like Afghanistan and Kosovo) show the luxurious garments in the real streets of Naples. This combination of roughness (think about the cobbled streets or from the walls covered in graffiti) and exquisite elegance of every piece of clothing, makes these pictures stand out. It is impossible not to stop and look at every detail shown when you go through a fashion magazine or you spot a billboard in town. Then you also have the added bonus of noticing how the Neapolitans enjoyed themselves in such a setting, unaware of the fact that thousands of people will see their faces in glossy magazines all over the world.

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Villa Pignatelli, one of the event locations

The Alta Moda fashion show took part in San Gregorio Armeno, the street that for locals means craftmanship and creativity. Artisans here make by hand those characters that Italians use to embellish the nativity scene at Christmas. It’s a tradition that goes back centuries if not a millennium, and represents the heart of Neapolitan artisanship. As I watched highlights and videos of the catwalk I couldn’t help thinking that those models and gorgeous dresses were like those statues, so beautiful and decorated, just in flesh and bone.

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The Alta Moda catwalk in San Gregorio Armeno

But the catwalk was only one of the many events Dolce and Gabbana finely crafted to entertain their guests, show the world Naples and promote their Alta Moda. First was the exclusive aperitif in Villa Pignatelli the day before the fashion show. Then there was the extravagant banquet at Castel dell’Ovo (Yes, they reserved a whole castle!). These, along with the closing soirée on the seaside, elevated Dolce and Gabbana Alta Moda as special experience beyond the usual fashion event.

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Mambo Italiano: the theme of the dancing night on the beach

Therefore yes, having watched from afar all these events, clothes and delighted guests, I guess it is not that crazy to desperately desire to get some tickets for whatever event Dolce and Gabbana are planning next.

Maybe this year I will try something I haven’t done in a long time: to write that letter to Santa. And I hope he will pull some strings so that I will find under my Christmas tree, my dear tickets (If VIP, even better, Santa… if you are reading this.). At least I can try.