The Ladybug at Milan Design Week 2014, pt. 2: Milano Vintage Week

The Ladybug Chronicles-Milan Vintage Week 2014-01

So let’s recap: we said that the most important week in Milan is the Milan Fashion Week. Then comes the Milan Design Week, but what if I tell you that we also have a Vintage Week?

Indeed, during Design Week, Milan hosted the first Vintage Week ever- with stalls, expos and workshops all dedicated to Vintage. Let me say first say: compared to last year, I was very surprised by the relevance of vintage during this year’s Design Week and not only in terms of inspiration for design, home-ware and decoration, but also in terms of vintage related events.

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The Ladybug Chronicles-Milan Vintage Week 2014-04

So the last day of my Design Week, on a sunny and warm Sunday morning, I brought my friend Kay who was visiting me from UK to the first event of the day… the Vintage Week at the Riccardo Grassi Showroom. This vintage marathon attracted different kinds of customers: from buyers to vintage lovers and addicted, from fashion lovers to simply curious people trying to understand what vintage was about.

Clothes, accessories, handbags, glasses, jewels, shoes, books, home-ware… every kind of vintage article was exposed to fulfill everyone’s expectations on the theme!

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The Vintage Week was an event in collaboration with A.N.G.E.L.O. who brought his beautiful collection of 24 wonderful silk vintage Hermès carrés.  Another small expo, “Vintage for Love” was dedicated to the vintage brides and weddings worlds.

It was great to see my friends Marco from Opherty & Ciocci and Nicoletta from Shabby Chic (two of my favorite vintage sellers in Italy), but a part from them the area was a bit bland: maybe because it was Sunday morning, but nothing “new” was really exposed and it was quite “standard business targeted on Italian customers” (what I mean is: “the more labels the better”). I was a bit disappointed by this event that was very well advertised- which is why my expectation was so high!

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Still; I tried some cute pieces from Telma Vintage, (what do you think of these frames?)

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and some amazing headpieces from Shabby Chic (yes, I bought the straw hat with the purple net and flowers!!).

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The Ladybug Chronicles-Milan Vintage Week 2014-03

For the occasion I wore a vintage sparkling sequined top from Humana Vintage, Zara trousers, an H&M biker jacket, Sam Edelman ankle boots, Balenciaga red handbag and Peter Pilotto for Target sunnies.

…Oh, and how could I forget my TOG “create” canvas bag… my Design Week favorite!

(Photo Credit: Kay Wilkinson)

The Ladybug’s Vintage Book Club Reads: “Hermès. L’avventura del lusso” by Federico Rocca

Since going to the Forlì Vintage Festival and meeting Luigi Cagliari from Tara Vintage, I realized after a couple of conversations with him, that although I love Hermès stuff so much, I don’t know that much about their history.

That’s why, when I read about this new book completely dedicated to Hermès’ history, I ran to the book store to get myself a copy to try to understand how and why Hermès is a real icon today. How is it possible that their bags are sold at auctions as if they were paintings, and why is it one of the few companies with a 46% profit during the most powerful crisis of the century?

Federico Rocca, the writer, is first journalist I really appreciated for his serious, no fashion fantasies commentary! The history starts in 1837, when the Maison was created by the saddler Thierry Hermès, as a reins and equestrian equipment factory, until the arrival of Jean-Louis Dumas in 1978 who brings Hermès, in a few years, to top of the world’s most important luxury brands. The history brings the reader through the adventure of a real luxury family starting with saddles and reins and moving to handbags, silk foulards (the famous carré), clothing, home design and jewellery.

Family history and the French society are always linked throughout this amazing book. All the most important designers working for Hermès are greatly remembered (from Véronique Nichanian to Herni D’Origny, to Leila Menchari), and the last chapter is a real guide to buying authentic Hermès vintage and how to recognize it from the knockoffs.

A special attention is given to the history of the two Hermès iconic bags: the Birkin and the Kelly.

The highly coveted Hermès Birkin bag was originally created in 1984 by Jean-Louis Dumas for British-born model-actress-singer, Jane Birkin. The story goes: the pair were seated next to one another on a flight from Paris to London in 1981 when Jane’s belongings tumbled out from her straw bag stored in the overhead. The actress told Dumas that she couldn’t seem to find a leather weekender that she actually liked, which compelled the designer to create one just for her. In April of this year, Jane auctioned her infamous bag on eBay and donated all $163,000 of the proceeds to the British Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.

Since the days of its creation, the Birkin has become the ultimate status symbol for fashionable women around the globe. It is distinguished by its handmade craftsmanship, the Hermès signature saddle stitch developed in the 1800s and by its padlock closure with the keys tucked away in a leather clochette. Hermès actually started in 1837 as a premier horse bridle and harness shop- producing fine saddlery for the elite in the late 1800s and introduced high-end clothing, accessories and leather handbags in the 1920s. Émile-Maurice, son of the company’s founder Charles-Emile Hermès, began creating handbags because his wife complained of not being able to find one that she liked. Sound familiar? In 1935 the Sac à dépêches (meaning “news bag”) was released. It was a smaller, updated version of the first ever Hermès bag, the Haut à courroies, which was created in 1900 and designed to carry the saddles of horseback riders. The Sac à dépêches was later renamed the Kelly bag in 1956 after Grace Kelly: when the new Princess of Monaco was photographed holding the purse on the cover of Life magazine to purportedly hide her baby bump. The Kelly is actually quite similar to the Birkin except for a few key differences: the Kelly is more formal and refined, while the Birkin is more casual and youthful; the Kelly has one handle instead of two like the Birkin; the Kelly has a convenient shoulder strap, while the Birkin does not; and the Kelly is a little less expensive than the Birkin.

The Birkin bag typically ranges in price from $9,000 to $180,000, depending on hide, size, and hardware. It is most popular in 30, 35, and 40 centimetres with weekender sizes available and there is also a Baby Birkin ($5,000) which barely holds a cell phone. The $180,000 Diamond Birkin features a diamond encrusted lock and clasp and is by far the hardest to find as very few are produced each year. There is one Birkin; however, that outshines all the rest. Created by Japanese designer Ginza Tanaka, this one-of-a-kind platinum evening Birkin is covered in over 2,000 diamonds totaling 208 carats. The bag sold in 2008 for $1.9 million, making it one of the world’s most expensive handbags. Serving multi-functional purposes, it has a removable 8-carat pear shaped diamond and a detachable diamond strap that can be used as a necklace or bracelet. (The Affluist, 17/10/2011) 

The Ladybug Travels Into the Past with Tara Vintage

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to talk to Luigi Cagliari from Tara Vintage and I shared the interview with him on the blog. It was in occasion of the 7.8.Novecento where Tara Vintage presented their wonderful exposition on vintage corsets and lingerie.
In that occasion Luigi mentioned another expo curated by Tara Vintage and Arte Viaggi, “Bagagli e dettagli di un viaggio al passato” (“Luggage and Details of a Journey at the Past”). Well the good news is that now you can visit it in Parma, at the Mercante in Fiera Fair from the 1st though the 4th of December, in the vintage area.
This itinerant exhibition will be shown in Parma for the third time: the first time it was in Valeggio sul Mincio, the second at the Next Vintage in Belgioioso.
Luigi shared with me some pictures and I’m very happy to offer to my readers a sneak-peek of this amazing collection; these pictures really left me breathless!
The expo is a real journey to and into the past: trunks, suitcases and handbags from the second half of the XIX century until the 1980 are not only wonderful fashion pieces of the past, but they clearly show the evolution of the travelers habits and needs throughout the years.
This is more a celebration of traveling than just a vintage collection: every single piece has its own story and tells a story about a travel and a traveler; from the luxurious and happy travels to the hardest and poorest ones.
Indeed many different kind of pieces are presented: trunks, suitcases and wardrobes from Louis Vuitton, Moynat, Hermès, Franzi to the English and French manufactures; bags and handbags in jute, leather and other valuable exotic leathers; hatboxes and top hats cases; Vuitton, Hermès and European manufacturers luggage; travel objects as collar cases, bath and pedicure/manicure cases and perfume holders.
All those objects will be shown with their own details: maps, etiquettes, depliants telling the story of a short or far trip here and around the world.
Unfortunately, the improvements in the traveling domain reduced the distances but also caused the loss of all these rituals and objects that were part of the journey. All the pieces give us insight to how each of them were created for different kinds of travel and for a specific means of transport.
You can find here some pictures from the expo at Next Vintage in Belgioioso that Tara Vintage shared with us.

One of the pieces of the expo coming from the Tara Vintage collection was the Carpet Bag (1865 circa) in tapestry and leather. Luigi explained that in that period, with the diffusion of the train, many people started traveling and they needed cheaper luggage to travel. This is the reason why Carpet bags or Tapestry bags were invented: they were created with leather and used carpets so that they can be sold for a good price. This was also the bag used to travel the United States from Italy or from the South to the North of Italy (this is why those travelers were called Carpetbaggers).

Another very interesting piece is the Hermès Haut à courroies bag (generally abbreviated with H.A.C.) dating 1959 ca. It was originally created by the French couturier at the end of the XIX century to hold saddles, boots and other equipment for jockeys. It later became a travel bag and was produced in six different sizes.
This one is painted by hand and is part of the Tara Vintage Collection.
The name comes from the typical high buckle, so characteristic of the more modern Kelly and Birkin bag; The Birkin bag was created in 1984 and it’s clearly inspired by the H.A.C. Based on their similarity some people call this one, erroneously, the old Birkin or the travel Birkin.

(For all the photos of this post credit to: Tara Vintage)

The Ladybug lands on Memory Lane at the Forlì Vintage Fair

Vintage is all about memories, whether you’re recycling your own style with a renewed class or invoking the memories of others through your finds or creating your own memories by redesigning and defining your ideal style… Vintage IS memorable!

When I was 18 I left Sicily to go to college: I loved foreign languages and decided that I wanted to be a translator (don’t ask me what happened to that dream!). At the time one of the best colleges for Interpreters and Translators was the SSLMIT in Forlì – a lovely town between Bologna and the Riviera Romagnola where I spent the most amazing and happiest years of my life! Forlì was, and still is, a quiet and calm town where people prefer their bikes over their cars. It’s full of students from everywhere in Italy and abroad. Being situated near big cities like Bologna and great clubbing centers as Rimini and Riccione made it the perfect place to have fun, meet new friends and enjoy my first experience out of my hometown! This is why I hold great and happy memories of this place. It’s also why I was so excited to go there for the Forlì Vintage Fair which is probably the most important vintage event in Italy (they count about 15 thousand visitors every year, in two semiannual events). It also boasts as one of the oldest (the first edition was in 2008) ongoing Italian vintage fairs.

I took the train from Naples and met my friend in Bologna.  We then headed to Forlì by car.  With a full weekend ahead of us, we scheduled to only attend the event on Friday afternoon (the 23rd of September, opening day). I won’t explain here the emotions of that day (a great surprise in Bologna and all the feelings of my “homecoming!”), but I’ll try to share with you that afternoon of fun!

Basically the Fair was divided in 3 big areas: the proper vintage area, the biggest one, with many stands of vintage clothes and accessories from the ’40s to the ’80s; the design-remake area, a very interesting bunch of stalls where new designers exposed their retro inspired creations, using old recycled materials and creating new forms of art from the past; and the collectibles area, where it was possible to find any kind of antique object, from toys to perfumes to small furniture.

In the main vintage area I could find some of my favorite sellers and discover some more or even meet those with whom I’ve been in virtual contact, but had never met for real! A special mention goes to Tara Vintage, honestly the best designer vintage seller around with great clothing and accessories pieces from Chanel (I fell in love with a very expensive black pleated dress from Chanel! Sigh!), Hermès or Vuitton; to Opherty & Ciocci (I finally met my virtual friend Marco!) with the most amazing ’70s handbags (yes, I bought one!) and some great Gucci vintage pieces; and of course A.N.G.E.L.O. Vintage Palace, who is the ‘author’ of the beautiful vintage Issey Miyake itinerant museum. Then there’s Lamù Vintage (a new friend!), personally one of my favorite stalls for sunglasses (yes, I got a pair too….a fantastic Dior!) with Oggetti Smarriti, and to Boutique Nadine, on my top list of vintage and retro shops if you ever go to Florence (don’t miss it, as they added a new store recently!).

Also many events were planned during the Fair like burlesque classes, American bar and retro music artists playing live… I was tempted to attend a burlesque class, but I really didn’t have time because a long car trip to Milan was waiting for us that same night!

To be fair I also have to put my attention on two negative facts: first of all, the complete lack of air conditioning. It was freaking hot inside (and outside!) and we even left earlier because of that: it was impossible to try fur coats or wool hats and I guess this problem affected not only the visitors but also the sellers. Secondly, a negative mention to Di Renzo Vintage, a stall with cool vintage hats but very unfriendly owners. I was asked not to take pictures (erm….why?? They couldn’t say…crazy!) and when I said I was a blogger- they said I should have told that… Really?!?! So….we left there two hats we wanted to buy and put a cross on them! (Of course, no pictures of their stuff either! Lol) *note to owners: If they see it, they will come. Word of mouth is the best publicity.

Here are some of my pictures of the event. The Ladybug’s vintage finds of the day – Forlì Vintage Fair coming soon!

The Issey Miyake vintage collection from A.N.G.E.L.O.

A lovely burlesque performer

Some shots from the great Tara Vintage collection

Cute vintage inspired head-pieces


A.N.G.E.L.O., of course!

Cute white glasses from Oggetti Smarriti (so stupid I didn’t buy them….pfff)

With Marco from Opherty & Ciocci


Rocking the 80’s…

Animal prints forever!