The Ladybug and the power of a (sustainable) dress

I perfectly remember the day when these pictures were taken for a specific reason. During that day four people stopped me at the restaurant, in the subway, in the street just to ask about my dress: “Where did you get it? – I love it”!

This made me think a lot about the power of a dress and where it comes from: it is the pattern? Maybe the color? The shape? Or maybe just the way it makes you feel when you wear it!

I can remember how happy I was when I received this dress from Anna su Misura: a beautiful yet simple handmade piece with the colors and patterns of Africa, its lovely vintage buttons and its many ways to use it (as a jacket or as a dress!). I was excited because it was the first step that Cristiana (founder of Anna su Misura) was doing towards a complete collection of clothing handmade with wax print fabrics. Cristiana started selling skirts and this beautiful dress called Anna (the name of her mum) was the first attempt to a more complete line of clothing. After the dress many interesting pieces were created: kimonos, shirts, turbans, bags, homeware…

I decided to wear it immediately the day after at the office and the reaction was incredible: compliments, questions, requests of the creator name…

I think that for sure the quality of a handmade dress makes the difference; the perfect choice of colors and pattern did the rest. But I must admit that I felt like a queen with it (not a coincidence that I wore my handmade turban–crown from Madame Ilary) and I also received compliments for how good it looked on me! One thing is sure: clothes are powerful. Vintage and handmade pieces have super powers.

Their power lays on the way we feel when we wear them. Princesses, queens, powerful human beings, passionate, compassionate, everything that may come with it! And the effects of this power are visible also to the others, which explains why they unusually compliment with us so often!

Of course we should consider the side effects of this: negative power clothes exist too! Probably they are those that are “imposed from the outside”, those with no history, those created without love. Have you ever thought of it?

All this to tell you that when you choose a dress, choose a (good) powerful one!

Handmade earrings: Metalica Creazioni; Boots: very old Jeffrey Campbell

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The Ladybug on the cost of handmade fashion

When I discuss sustainable fashion and present handmade fashion as a good alternative to make our closet as much sustainable as possible, I am often said that handmade fashion is expensive.

In my opinion the real point is that many things are expensive, but not all of them are worthy. Let me explain this in a different way: luxury fashion is expensive but is it really always worth it? Is it always a guarantee of quality and production transparency? Is it always correct and justifiable?

Not everything that is expensive has an expensive production cost; sometimes a product is expensive because the same fact that it has a high price makes it more covetable and desirable. I am not saying that luxury fashion brands prices are never justified, not at all. Many times they are, just sometimes they are not.

Also, when a piece is mass produced, it is very easy for brands to reduce the price per unit produced as the different production costs are amortized by the highest production volumes. Also, more and more often big enterprises producing luxury goods relocate production activities in countries where the costs are incredibly lower even if the final selling price remains high.

This is not the case of handmade fashion, made locally by small business or even one person who produces and sells and bears all the costs that are not reduced or amortized by high production volumes.

The example that I am sharing here is the Frida dress created by Madame Ilary because somehow I directly “lived” its production with Ilaria.

First of all, only two pieces of it were created, just two sizes. Ilaria found the fabric online from an historical Roman fabric seller, very well known for the choice of only great quality materials. Quality materials are expensive. Fact.

During the week of production, yes it took one entire week to physically create it, I was often at her atelier and saw the different stages of the creation. How much is an employee paid for a week of work? Creation has exactly the same price in terms of responsibility and attention to production than in any other job. Please consider that I did not see the preparation of the paper pattern for example, which took almost a month!

Fixed costs for rental payment of the lab and all the associated bills, as well as rented or leased material for the creation must be considered too, as well as taxes for those who legally produce!

I didn’t even mention one of the most sustainable advantages at all: we know EXACTLY who made our clothes and in which conditions as we can see them ourselves. Most of the times they are families, friends, people who we know by name, who live near us, who invested all their time, money and passion in what they are doing. Isn’t it amazing from a buyer point of view? Total transparency of production, real slow fashion in its purest form!

But what fascinates me most is the idea of buying an artist’s idea, of making mine his/her view and imagination, his/her priceless quality work and attention to every single detail of the product. It’s like buying a painting after all, isn’t it? Imagination and ideas come from life experiences, study, observation reshaped in the artist mind with the artist view, is there anything more creative and personal than this?

When I say that buying from an handcrafter is buying real uniqueness this is what I mean. But uniqueness, quality, artistic imagination and reshaping on the final product IS expensive. And these costs are most of the times fully justified and justifiable as I try to explain here.

So instead of saying that handmade fashion is expensive, why don’t we try to buy less, to prefer quality, art, design, unique experiences instead of mass market homologated ideas?

Quality is positively addictive, once you try it you don’t settle for less. Maybe it could be the key to save our poor planet from mass production and in the end also to save money. Yes because are you sure that you spend less buying 20 poor quality pieces in fast fashion shops instead of one or two from handmade creators? I am not sure at all….

Photo Credit: Madame Ilary (as well as the total outfit, completely made with her own imagination).

The Ladybug answers: How do we know if a brand is really ethical?

When it comes to ethical fashion brands, how can we say if a brand is really ethical?

I make a lot of online research every time that I want to buy a piece from a brand that I don’t know well to make sure that their production is made by respecting environment and if it is fair with its workers (one point shouldn’t go without the other).

I can say that it is seriously difficult to understand it, especially because lately many brands are “greenwashing” their activities, considering the high level of awareness around the world on the sustainability of fashion. For this reason you must be very careful but there are a few tips here that can help!


The easiest way to have an idea about ethical policies of a brand is checking its website and see how much space it dedicates to its sustainability policies. It is a first step but don’t trust entirely what is written on their website. More and more brands are trying to get into the sustainability path only as a way to cover their real practices, trying to convince the growing number of ethically aware customers about their conscious practices. This attitude is called greenwashing and it is becoming very popular especially within fast fashion industry.


The second step is to google the brand online and see what forums or news say about it. If the brand can showcase itself as an ethical brand, it cannot control what other people say about it regarding its practices and its impacts. More and more websites are specialized in sustainable brands analysis as well as forums and blogs. They can give you very interesting hints about the brand you want to buy from.


Sometimes the brand does not own directly the factories but it relies on local partners to provide factories and workers to the brand. If this can be a very difficult practice to drive out you can learn a lot about the brand practices. Please don’t think that if a brand product is Made in Italy it is automatically “clean”, the “Made in…” tag only makes us aware of the place where the item was sewn. Also, if a brand states that it is “for a good cause” it may not actually be producing items ethically!

A good hint may be if a brand becomes a certified member of one of the fair-trade organizations as it means they have met the required ethical criteria; however this is not a necessary step.


If you are not convinced yet you can still email the brand and directly ask for the information that you need to know or that are not yet clear to you: where are their clothes made, how do they ensure the safety and fair pay of all workers in the supply chain, where information on third-parties can be found etc.

I followed these steps when I decided to buy from Zuri, a young ethical brand founded by two American expats in Nairobi, Sandra Zhao and Ashleigh Gersh Miller. I could appreciate the brand for the locally sourced fabrics and its concrete engagement for sustainability.

All their creations are locally sourced and ethically produced by local handcrafters in Kenya. For example, they source fabrics directly from vendors in the markets, cutting out the middlemen and they partner with SOKO, a company focusing on people and environment.

Zuri’s only produces one dress: the three in one dress. It is available in many different colors and patterns and it can be worn as a dress as well as a jacket and a skirt. I love the easy and simple A-line shape that makes it very versatile and easy to adapt to many different outfit ideas. Versatility of the pieces is also a good indicator of this brand attention to sustainability: producing only one model, which can be worn in different ways, will be definitely worn more and often, reducing the need to buy other pieces, don’t you think?

I am wearing here my favorite Zuri dress in blue and red, definitely one of my favorite pieces from my sustainable closet!

Golden sandals are thrifted Miu Miu, brass hoop earrings are handmade from Metalica Creazioni.

The Ladybug on fashion uniqueness and identity

Does it ever happen to you that you buy something that someone else has? I mean someone you work with or just a friend? And what do you answer if somebody asks you to buy something exactly like yours?

If you buy and wear vintage this can hardly happen but for everything non-vintage it is a situation that may easily happen and that is still a taboo. I know people who are horrified if someone else’s is wearing the same outfit (fast fashion buyers, does it sound familiar?) or if someone wants to buy a piece that they already own;  I know others who really don’t care (quite rare!) – like me! – because they are convinced that whatever other people wear they can not wear it the same way!

I strongly believe in personality when it comes to fashion and I am convinced that even if I wear something that someone else is wearing we will definitely look different. This is what usually happens with my friend Simona (who is pictured here with me). Since we know each other we have acknowledged that we have very similar fashion taste even if we are so incredibly different in body shapes, colours and personality. We often buy similar things (we clarified since the beginning that this is not a problem for us as we really don’t care!) or we “copy” each other outfits, which is in our opinion the best form of appreciation for each other fashion sense and style.

The fun thing with this is that very few people notice when we wear the same things because what we bring from our personality to the outfit is way stronger that the outfit itself.

When we were asked from Madame Ilary to wear the same outfit for her new collection last spring we were incredibly excited and when we saw the shooting we realized how different we can look even with the exact same outfit!

Both shirts were created by Madame Ilary (of course in different sizes considering how opposite our body shapes are!) but have a totally different effect on us; same thing for the 50s inspired circle skirts, in different colors but with the same pattern! I added a turban, of course, and a pair of golden statement earrings from Giovanni Raspini, while Simona left her long blond hair down and was definitely less dressed up for the rest of her outfit (similar choice for the shoes!).

Can’t you see how different we are, even in our personality, even if we are wearing the same combo (handmade with love by our dear friend Madame Ilary)?

This is a very important example of a message that I want to throw out there: no matter how we dress and how similar to us other people can dress, what really “makes” an outfit is how you style and how your personality can be perceived from your clothes. In other terms, you are unique and there is nothing more stylish than your own personality: once you will manage to make it “talk” through your clothes you will never ever have to worry about anyone wearing your same clothes!

And if I didn’t convince you with that, well keep buying vintage and it will never happen to you in your life!

The Ladybug on best fashion investments: the handmade coat

When I model for Madame Ilary I really feel special because I know the idea she has of the woman who would wear her clothes: a normal woman in size and shape but with great personality!

She asked me and my friend Simona (very different from me in size, shape and colors!) to model for her new spring campaign last year wearing her amazing new spring coats.

During this campaign I madly fell in love with the silver coat that I was wearing and I decided to buy it even if it was a bit pricey. I was a little doubtful at the time but I know now that it was one of my best fashion investments ever!

Let me tell you why:

  • Although it may seem quite difficult to use the brocade coat, it is very versatile: you can make it elegant with a cocktail dress or with a sophisticated outfit, but you can easily wear it with denim and sneakers for a more casual wear. It’s a wonderful piece that you can wear more often than you can imagine (fashion prejudice, anyone?)
  • The shape is so retro, a bit renaissance style, that it never goes out of style! I am pretty sure that I will wear it again in 5 or 10 years (if I keep my size! Haha!)
  • It was done for me and on me: even if the model was created for the campaign, Ilaria made a new piece for me to fit my size in every detail. However, in the very rare case I really get tired of it, I am sure that I can resell it very fast because it is a very special piece.
  • It is handmade with love and attention to detail: the brocade is soft and rich, the buttons are vintage, the shape is timeless: where would I find another piece like this?

In the end, we can say that we never go wrong with a handmade piece: we know who made our clothes, we know that they were made with love and care to every single detail, they fit our silhouette perfectly, they are a choice of quality over quantity.

For this reason, when you recognize that a piece has these characteristics, don’t think twice, even if it’s a bit pricey. Let’s make it a way of aware consuming, preferring quality over quantity, choosing the handcrafted over the mass production. Not only we will start a new trend but we will also help our poor planet.

Maybe we will buy less but isn’t it a good choice?

Total Look Madame Ilary for me and for Simona.

The Ladybug is a Drama Queen!

Yes, I am a drama queen.

It is something that I hate about myself and I keep struggling against my inner Drama Queen because I think that I live so much better when I can handle this and I manage to live with so much more lightness and light-hearted!

I worked a lot on this side of my personality and I think that I did a good work so far, but I needed a little reminder and that’s the reason why I cracked for this tee that reminded me that I don’t need to make drama simply because I am not Shakespeare!

I love wearing tees with a message and I love to mix them with more sophisticated pieces like a did here for a shopping session in Milan on a Saturday morning (can you tell by the big canvas bag? By the way, I love this huge canvas bag that I got from Retrock, one of the best vintage shops in Budapest).

The tee is from White Market and I mixed it here with black silk handmade culottes from Madame Ilary and a wonderful turban handmade by Madame Ilary with a Jordanian trim that I bought in Amman last year.

I completed my mix with Dxie 90s inspired sneakers and vintage silver earrings and rings.

The Ladybug and the Little Prince “coincidence”

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“Things always happen for a reason”. “Coincidences don’t exist”. How many times did we hear that? Sometimes we believe it is true, sometimes we don’t (depending basically on our mood) but I basically think that things really always happen for a reason.

This is a stupid but fitting example:

Lunch time with my photographer friend, in the Isola Design district in Milan, I am wearing one of my favorite vintage pieces that I found in Budapest last year in a lovely vintage shop called Szputnyik, and I feel super cute! When we head back to the office we see it: this amazing Little Prince mural that left us wide-mouthed! We didn’t know about it and we started taking pictures of this street art when my friend asked: “do you feel cute enough for me to take some pictures of you here?”.

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“Coincidence” or whatever it is made me feel super cute with my vintage dress (it has some Egyptian style pattern, with pyramids and palms + this sand color that made me crack!), my dark green 70s inspired Strategia platforms and my handmade brass earrings (80s inspired) by Metalica Creazioni.

Also my hair was pretty decent…was there a better moment to shoot there? Probably not…

That night when I came back home I looked for my Little Prince book (I have it French) because I thought it was a sign (not a coincidence…) and I opened it on this page:

C’est une folie de haïr toutes les roses parce que une épine vous a piqué, d’abandonner tous les rêves parce que l’un d’entre eux ne s’est pas réalisé, de renoncer à toutes les tentatives parce qu’on a échoué…c’est une folie de condamner toutes les amitiés parce qu’une d’elles vous a trahi, de ne croire plus en l’amour juste parce qu’un d’entre eux a été infidèle, de jeter toutes les chances d’être heureux juste parce que quelque chose n’est pas allée dans la bonne direction. Il y aura toujours une autre occasion, un autre ami, un autre amour, une force nouvelle. Pour chaque fin il y a toujours un nouvel départ.

So no, coincidence doesn’t exist. It was exactly what I needed to read.

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The Ladybug dreaming of a vintage outfit during the Quarantine

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This is the first post that I write during the quarantine. The Covid-19 is spreading around the world and my country was one of the first ones to start the fight against the virus, the first one in Europe. In a few weeks we lost our normal lives and we had to start a forced quarantine to stop the virus from spreading more.

It was a shock for all of us: no friends, no work, no parties, no concerts, no yoga, no dance etc. etc. We are allowed to go out only for urgent and primary matters, like pharmacy and food. Bars, restaurants, shops, gym clubs, everything is closed.

It is a sacrifice but I am sure that if we keep doing it all together we will win and go back to our normal lives soon. For me it meant that I had to renounce to many things but as I am always a positive person, I decided to make the most of this new spare time that I have at home by doing many things that I usually have no time to do: cooking (a lot!), continue my dance and yoga classes online, meditate with my group every day for 30 minutes, reading, watching movies and TV series that were on my list for such a long time! We always complain that we have no time to do this or to do that, we don’t have time to enjoy time with ourselves: now that we have it I guess that we should take advantage of it!

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It is also a good moment for me to write and update my blog with some new posts, also to give you something to read in your spare time! I decided to share this set for two reasons:

  1. The “Blessing for all mural”: I really felt it! We all need blessings in our lives but now more than ever I wanted to dedicate a special warm blessing to my country and to my people. We are strong, we can make it! We will be ok!
  2. The wonderful 80s vintage dress that I am wearing here was bought in Spain, in Bilbao exactly, at the Flamingo Kilo Shop, a famous franchising with many shops in Spain that sells most of their vintage clothes by kilo. I paid it around 9 euros and it always makes me think of this lovely weekend that I spent in Bilbao with one of my best friends last year. Well, we had another great weekend planned in Spain last week but we had to postpone it for now because of this situation. This is another blessing for ourselves: hoping that we will go back to our wanderlust adventures soon!

Vintage doctor bag is from Sculture da Indossare Vintage, blue ankle boots are from Ouigal.

PS: As Italian I know that we are a great country and great people in hard times, so I am sure that all this will end soon and we will be back to our normal but beautiful lives. Don’t take life for granted: be grateful for everything we have, every single day, also after the quarantine! Let’s make it another life lesson!

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The Ladybug with another Madame Ilary total outfit

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You know that Ilaria, the founder of Madame Ilary, is a very good friend of mine.

We met longtime ago, I was just landed in Milan and I was at the theatre to watch my friends play when I met this girl, who was the costume and scene designer. We immediately fell in love with each other style (we were both wearing vintage!) and she asked if I wanted to see her amazing turbans.

Since then we have grown a lot: I focused more on my blogger work and she created her own handmade fashion label with an amazing show room in Milan. Most of the things that I wear are made by her and I am lucky enough to see the collections on the making and to serve her as a model every now and then.

I really love going out with her to select new fabrics and accessories or to buy vintage buttons and trimmings to add to her pieces. It helped me a lot to understand more about the crafter work and it gave me new notions of fashion design and fabrics in general.

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When we made this photoshoot she was launching her first handmade sweater collections: a very simple yet stylish knitted piece with puff sleeves and shoulder pads that comes in many different colors.

I picked the black one to pair it with her beautiful wine 50s inspired skirt with a sort of Aztec print that I adore and that I wanted also for a coordinated turban (I have a pair of trousers and a turban with the same print but in olive green!) .

Earrings are handmade by Metalica and shoes are from Francesco Milano on Yoox.

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The Ladybug e un improvviso colpo di fulmine: Gauche Caviar a Milano

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Avete presente i colpi di fulmine? Ecco non so se capita anche a voi ma io non li ho solo per le persone (a dire il vero, ne ho sempre meno per le persone!) ma mi capita di avere il cosiddetto colpo di fulmine anche per dei luoghi, soprattutto quando viaggio, delle opere d’arte, degli oggetti (ad esempio le scarpe e i turbanti!), dei libri che mi colpiscono già dalla copertina.

Il colpo di fulmine ce lo ricordiamo sempre, anche a distanza di tempo. Infatti, la sera in cui ho provato l’irresistibile desiderio di entrare in un posto che mi attirava a sé in maniera incredibile me la ricordo bene.

Stavo raggiungendo degli amici a cena un sabato sera e mentre camminavo per strada mi ha colpito un piccolo locale che non avevo mai visto prima in quella zona. Pareti color ottanio piene di foto e poster di icone di stile e dell’arte, sgabelli e divano in velluto a tono, specchi antichi alle pareti, una libreria e strumenti musicali a vista…tutto in quel posto mi chiamava e mi incuriosiva da matti. Mi sentivo come attirata da una calamita. Leggo fuori che il posto si chiama Gauche Caviar e a quel punto, niente può più fermarmi e sono già dentro, nonostante i miei amici siano già ad attendermi al ristorante!

Mi accoglie subito il sorriso della splendida Marta (che indossa un abito meraviglioso!) che insieme al compagno Stefano ha “donato” alla città questo posto stupendo solo qualche mese fa. Le spiego che sono rimasta ipnotizzata dal loro locale e che mi piacerebbe tornarci per scoprirlo e magari farci qualche foto.

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La settimana dopo sono già lì a scoprire questo locale così “cozy” da avere l’idea di essere entrati in casa di qualcuno, e in un certo senso un po’ è così perché sia Marta che Stefano ci hanno messo la loro vita, la loro storia, le loro passioni. Anche il bagno è una vera chicca (vi consiglio di entrarci anche solo per lavarvi le mani!): carta da parati colorata e tantissime foto personali scattate durante viaggi e momenti importanti, c’è un po’ anche la storia di Gauche Caviar, del perché è nato (in una foto della donna che ha ispirato Marta e Stefano).

Gusto, eleganza e raffinatezza retrò sono l’elemento distintivo di questo posto, insieme all’accoglienza delicata e appassionata dei suoi creatori che amano raccontare questo posto che sicuramente non ha eguali in città. E’ il posto perfetto per sorseggiare un bicchiere di vino, un cocktail o una cedrata (io adoro la cedrata!) prima o dopo aver visto un film al cinema, al ritorno dal lavoro prima di andare a casa dopo una dura giornata, anche da soli. Parlando con Marta mi ha colpito molto una sua frase: “Volevo creare un posto dove anche una donna da sola può trovarsi a suo agio”. Sicuramente ci è riuscita, perché l’accoglienza è decisamente uno dei punti forti di Gauche Caviar.

So di avervi incuriosito, quindi vi dico anche dove si trova: in via Vicenza, zona Cinque Giornate a Milano.

Per il primo shooting ho scelto un outfit vintage + handamde: tunica con ricami dorati vintage marocchina scovata al Mercatone dell’Antiquariato sul Naviglio Grande quest’estate, borsetta vintage anni 40 trovata a Lubiana nel bellissimo negozio Divas Vintage, turbante in raso e decorazioni giordane handmade by Madame Ilary, orecchini in bronzo Metalica e sandali ricamati Anniel.

Vi riparlerò di Guache Caviar presto con un nuovo outfit vintage!

Photo Credit: Milena Molinari

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