‘I started making sandals for myself, taking remnants of crocodile skins to small sandal makers in Positano. I also used crocodile tails, which can’t be easily made into bags, for belts. One summer, the Mr Porter team came to dinner at our home in Florence and asked me to produce the belts and sandals for them, so the line was born,’ says designer Álvaro González.
He, along with other designers living and working in Italy, is creating niche collections and bringing on board skilled artisans, small businesses and traditional ateliers. Marco de Vincenzo is a womenswear designer who skillfully combines traditional approaches and modern technology to create sensational, deeply tactile clothes. Meanwhile, Carlotta Danti is a lingerie specialist. Milan-born Danti cut her teeth at Vivienne Westwood in London before returning to her home city to launch her lingerie and boudoir wear under the label Rosamosario. All three designers display impeccable taste and share a passion for the unique and for craftsmanship.
Behind these labels lies a wealth of experience. González is an accessories pioneer who, for the past 20 years, has been designing for labels including Jimmy Choo and Loro Piana; as well as running his own label, he is now also the creative director of luxury label Valextra. ‘I use richly coloured calf leather, and alligator and stingray skins developed by specialist tanneries.
They are then crafted into sandals, belts, small leather goods and bags by selected artisanal workshops in and around Florence,’ he says. González men’s and women’s sandals exude an earthy elegance which is derived from the raw leather and hand dyes used. ‘It gives them a deep lustre and handmade look that is not too “crafty”,’ he adds. The range is stocked in luxury boutiques worldwide, including Lane Crawford and Antonia in Milan.
Marco De Vincenzo
De Vincenzo, who was born in Messina and now works from a studio in Rome, is attracting a host of admirers including stylist Giovanna Battaglia and fashion director Anna Dello Russo. For 11 years, he worked alongside Silvia Venturini, the creative head of accessories for Fendi. His love of experimentation and of trompe l’oeil visual effects is evident throughout his own collection, which he launched in 2009.
‘My collections always start from the materials and a love of 3D aspects,’ says de Vincenzo. He is known for transforming wools, silks and tweeds with waves of colour, complex cutting and print techniques. Standout pieces from his spring/summer 2015 collection include pencil skirt and jacket ensembles, crafted from squares of fringed silk which move and sway, and checked dress coats in silk tweed which are hand fringed and beaded. His innovative approach recently attracted investment from the luxury goods powerhouse LVMH.
The boudoir is the playground of Carlotta Danti and screen idols from Italian cinema’s heyday are her pin-ups. Her collections feature such delicacies as sugar-pink lace pyjamas and beautifully constructed corsetry including long silk peignoir gowns edged in delicate lace and flower-print organza robes. Her work has attracted bespoke orders from clients including Beyoncé, Rihanna and the Saudi Arabian royal family, while stockists include Net a Porter. ‘Time devoted to ourselves and the things we love makes us feel special,’ explains Danti. And special is what this new wave of designers is all about.