Refined, meticulous and of the highest quality. Craftsmanship in Italy goes far beyond the commercial: it’s a lifestyle. It’s no surprise then that the “Made in Italy” label is so renowned and Italian craftsmen are among the most talented – known to the world for their impeccable taste and overwhelming touch.
The panorama of Italian craftsmanship is vast and colourful, held together by courageous artists who continue to create masterpieces by hand, refusing to surrender to the ferocious large-scale industrial production. This extraordinary microcosm is populated by knowledgeable connoisseurs of the material – be it a rough stone, leather or a fine cut of meat – and the magic of their work lurks behind the doors of their workshops. Few have survived the pressing modernity; those who have are guardians of an ancient tradition.
The future of a city like Rome also passes through their rough hands, their eyes sparkling with passion, their living work tables – because you can’t really understand an extraordinary city like Rome if you don’t know the arts and crafts that helped make it so. Cities change with time: they change their streets, the people who live there, the appearance of their homes and even the languages. But when you watch a craftsman at work time dilates, it becomes universal and we have the perception of watching, in the present, the same action that could be admired 500 years ago, unchanged.
Below are some of Rome’s talented craftsman brands:
Founded in 2011 by Andrea Ferolla and Daria Reina, Chez Dede is an independent brand with a French-Italian background and an international audience. Exclusive collections of accessories, fashion, home decor and jewels stand alongside small éditions de charme and collaborations with worldwide luxury brands. Italian craftsmanship, exquisite materials, nonchalance and esprit de finesse (intuitive understanding) are the distinctive trade marks of the brand. In 2015 Chez Dede opened its flagship store in Rome, a cabinet of curiosities located in one of the most artistocratic neighborhoods of Rome, Rione Regola.
Fabio Salini has always had a passion for jewellery. He has dedicated his life to it, driven by a desire to learn all there is to know about jewellery and precious gems. Underpinning his innate artistic sensibility with formal training in geology and gemology, he gained invaluable experience working in the creative departments at Cartier and Bulgari. Over the years, Fabio Salini has designed and created exclusive jewellery collections in collaboration with important maisons, as well as with prestigious art galleries, drawn by the allure of his eclectic, imaginative style.
Francesca Latini and Giovanna D’Ulisse are two thirty-year-old craftswomen who live and work in Rome. As required by the tradition of the ancient artisan bottega, an international symbol of Made in Italy, LeMastro creates a handmade shoes with an artisan process of about 50 hours of work. LeMastro creates the made-to-measure shoe after a study of the foot and the materials that best suit each customer’s needs. In this way the result is a mix of beautiful aesthetics and comfort.
Tucked away in one of Rome’s most aristocratic neighbourhoods in the Regola Rione at Via di Monserrato 21 is Maison Halaby. It’s a one-of-a-kind space where Creative Director Gilbert Halaby welcomes his by-invitation-only guests. Chosen as Designer of the Year at the Paris Capitale de la Creation 2011 and nominated as one of the 2012 Vogue Talents promoted by Vogue Italia, Gilbert Halaby expresses his creativity by making eccentric bags, for strong women with personality.
1889 Bespoke shoes Marini stylish brand is deeply rooted in the shoemaking abilities of Cav. Giuseppe Marini, who founded in 1899 his own school for shoemakers and opened a boutique and a laboratory in the hearth of Rome, in Via Crispi 97. The brand soon became highly desired by top-level international personalities, sovereigns, actors, politicians, businessmen. Each piece is entirely handmade, from the direct measurement of each collector’s foot until the finishing touches of the final product. Carlo Marini and his skilful team still oversee and craft every detail in the 200 different steps necessary to create a bespoke pair of shoes that proudly bears the Marini Calzature label.
In Via Condotti, inside Palazzo Caffarelli, the Neapolitan brothers Peppino and Vincenzo Capuano began their Roman atelier in 1960. Their work has been enhancing and showcasing the heritage of high Italian craftsmanship that represents the lifeblood of the historic shops in the centre of Rome. Each creation comes from a passionate craft by skilled Italian artisans in their laboratories. The jewels are made with considerable attention and skilful workmanship, qualities that have immediately brought them to success as an authentic expression of an exclusively Italian know-how.
Rooted in an effortless yet sophisticated style, able to survive the fast-pace of fashion, Giuliva Heritage promotes a sustainable and mindful approach to life. These core values are also encapsulated in Sartoria Giuliva, the men’s tailoring atelier and sister brand to Giuliva Heritage. Inspired by the Neapolitan sartorial tradition, the bespoke men’s brand was founded by Gerardo Cavaliere in Rome in 2013. Sartoria Giuliva’s use of upscale natural materials, as well as the high-end craftsmanship and rigorous attention to detail, resonate in the ready-to-wear Giuliva Heritage.
L’Archivio di Monserrato isn’t the average Roman store. On the contrary, it’s a unique two-floored boutique filled with the most vibrant and rich colours: this store’s breathtaking design and alluring energy can leave a friendly visitor in complete awe. Once you step inside you enter a new world. It’s a life long journey that the founder, Soledad Twombly, takes us on. The store represents the vast eclectic experiences she has encountered during her travels to the East and West. Her contemporary fashion collection is surrounded by antique costumes and furniture from far away countries, ageing to more than five hundred years ago.
Lead image: Top Italian shoemaking – Marini Calzature