E. MARINELLA: The Neapolitan Art of the Knot

I may have been 5 or maybe 6 when I was taken to the  E. Marinella tie shop  in Naples for the first time by my mum. Our mission was simple: to buy a tie for my father as a Christmas gift without getting caught. And back then it was like espionage for me: I had to keep a secret from my dad, as he knew that we were in Naples only for “a walk.”

The historical E. Marinella store in Naples, opened in 1914.
E. Marinella Clientele

At that age, I did not pay attention the long queue of people standing outside, with a number in their hand, patiently waiting to be called to enter a 20 sq. meters-wide shop. I did not even notice the sort of clientele that was actually in the queue: all business people, not only Italians but from all over the world, all in their finest suits and coats.

Inside the Neapolitan store.
The Shop Interior

But what I still remember now is the interior of the shop: in such a tiny space I think there were more than 10 thousand different ties. Long, short, colour block, striped, with small cashmere prints. Within a few minutes the shop assistant showed us more than 30 ties that suited our simple request (“We would like a long tie to match with a blue suit.”). And that was the moment I realised why there was such a big fuss around a simple “Marinella” tie.

The most appreciated patterns are those showing the smallest details.
The most appreciated patterns are those showing the smallest details.
Fine English Fabric

I was lucky to hear directly from the current owner and head of the brand, Maurizio Marinella, every tie is made out of a single square of fine English fabric, folded seven times to give the accessory the necessary shape and structure. And the Marinella family, who still owns and leads the company after three generations, personally visit English fabric makers once a year to check out the latest designs and make their orders.

"The tie colour must stand out against the suit and the shirt, without clashing."
“The tie colour must stand out against the suit and the shirt, without clashing.”
Tailoring and Craftsmanship

Since its opening in 1914, the store has become a symbol of Neapolitan tailoring and craftsmanship around the world: international leaders, celebrities and public personalities have been seen wearing Marinella ties at the most important events. The shop in Naples has now been expanded to meet the growing demand. More flagship stores in Milan, Montecarlo, Tokyo and London have been opened over the years.

One of the latest adverts run by the company on a global scale.
One of the latest adverts run by the company on a global scale.
Neapolitan Way of Life

Whenever any of my friends come to Naples to visit me, I cannot help but sharing a few words about this store every time I take them around. Call it pride, call it childhood memory, but for me Marinella is more than a tie shop. It is an example of how the finest lifestyle is so naturally embodied in our Neapolitan way of life and of how this fascinates people all over the world and across time.

The moment a tie is finished and the E. Marinella brand tag is sewn by hand.
The moment a tie is finished and the E. Marinella brand tag is sewn by hand.

All I can hope for is that the store will continue there for a long time, growing but staying true to its tradition. And maybe one day I will bring my child there for a gift too, and I will have the chance to explain why such an ornamental accessory can tell such a great story.

The E. Marinella shop in Milan.
The E. Marinella shop in Milan.

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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?

 

MADONNA’S CARPOOL KARAOKE: On Kissing Michael Jackson, “Of Course”

“I mean, baby, I’ve been around.”

Madonna lets it all hang out during Carpool Karaoke. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
Madonna lets it all hang out during Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.

Madonna’s Carpool Karaoke with James Corden is a blast. She and James clearly had fun, which is fun to watch. It’s why we keep watching. This is a Madonna specialty, one of many.

Decked out in Moschino, Madonna sings and car dances to some of her classic hits and fan favorites. “Vogue,” “Express Yourself,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Bitch I’m Madonna,” “Ray of Light,” and “Music” play as the two navigate New York traffic.

Is there Voguing? Of course. Twerking? Yes. Taunting James about his red flannel shirt? Yep. A revelation about kissing Michael Jackson? Yes.

From Variety:

“You were friends with Michael Jackson,” Corden prompted at one point. “So you want me to kiss and tell then don’t you?” Madonna responded.

“Did you kiss?” he asked hesitantly. “Of course. I mean, baby, I’ve been around,” she said. “Full French kissing. Tongue and mouth kissing.”

Corden confessed that the alleged make out was news to him, to which Madonna responded, “Well I haven’t had the chance to talk about it. No one ever asks me.”

No one ever asks? Once again, journalists haven’t been doing their job.

Madonna during Carpool Karaoke. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
Madonna’s Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.
Madonna sings, dances to "Vogue," "Bitch I'm Madonna," "Ray of Light," and "Music" during Carpool Karaoke. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
Madonna sings and car dances to “Vogue,” “Bitch I’m Madonna,” “Ray of Light,” and “Music” during Carpool Karaoke.

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FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM: JK Rowling and Eddie Redmayne Present Latest Wizarding Movie at Lumos Charity Benefit

JK Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be in theatres soon. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be in theatres next week.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Advance Screening for Lumos

Director: David Yates
Writers: J.K. Rowling, J.K. Rowling (textbook)
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell

Tonight's advance screening of Fantastic Beasts benefited Rowling's Lumos charity. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
Tonight’s advance screening of Fantastic Beasts benefited Rowling’s Lumos charity

We just caught an early screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with JK Rowling and the cast, benefiting her Lumos charity. Eddie Redmayne lead the Q&A, during which Rowling explained the developmental harm being done to children in even the best of orphanages. Lumos works to provide family and community-based care for children in place of institutional care.

The movie itself is a wild ride. There’s so much layering of plot and subplot, that not only do the beasts themselves sometimes seem like a distraction, but it’s easy to see why the Fantastic Beasts series will stretch out over five movies. However, a couple of the beasts do provide some comedy relief, as many of the scenes can be on the darker side. American witches, it turns out, have a taste for death. The theme of abuse and the suppression of potential, also provide with film with darker tones.

The cast is great. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) semi-consistently comes across as awkward and obsessed with his work. But when the situation calls for it, he’s in action adventure mode. Ezra Miller gives one of our favorite performances as Credence, but I won’t give away any spoilers. His relationship with Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) is peculiar at first, and quickly escalates.

Before the start of the movie, Rowling told of her love for these characters. I feel we’ve only gotten a glimpse of them, but so far they are likable enough. Queenie, played by Alison Loren Sudol, is probably most likable after Newt.

After the movie, JK Rowling joined members of her Lumos team on stage, to a standing ovation. She thanked the audience for helping to raise money for the charity. Then she asked, “So, did you enjoy the movie? So it was worth it.”

Find out more about Lumos here.

A photo posted by Troy Wise (@troy_wise) on

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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.

La Rinascente, view from piazza Duomo. Image Amplified www.imageamplified.com
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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