The Ladybug’s pleasure and pain: the leather dilemma!

When you start your journey towards a more conscious and sustainable way of dressing and buying clothes there will be many obstacles on the way! From the things that you like but you know they are not sustainable at all (this may happen a lot at the beginning, especially when you start your detox from Zara!) to the fabrics that you adore but you have to be very careful of, starting also a new path of knowledge and information regarding different textiles and their production (this type of obstacle usually starts later in your path when you become more sensitive to these topics).

The latter is the case that I want to share today, in particular my very huge obstacle regarding real leather.

When we discuss real leather the topic is so huge and complex that it is easy to be confused and honestly sometimes I still am! The factors to be considered are so many: terminology for example. Leather, real leather, faux leather, vegan leather, PU etc. but are we sure that we really know what we are talking about? Is vegan leather sustainable because it does not kill animals to be produced? Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, with an high environmental impact during the production and the disposal phase, then we cannot really say that it is a sustainable alternative to real leather. But it can also be made from innovative and sustainable materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, and recycled plastic even if the prices for these pieces are often not really affordable due to the high production costs. Moreover, vegan leather is not very durable.

Other factors; transparency and environmental impact of the production cycle, use of water and other polluting chemical materials, animal exploitation etc. All these factors have to be considered to define some type of leather as sustainable.

However, the tanning sector is starting important changes to make its production more transparent and sustainable also by introducing new quality certifications, thanks to the more conscious consumers who are really careful when it comes to sustainability, even in fashion (the tanning sector is one of the most polluting within the fashion industry).

While I try to understand how to deal with leather (because, hey I am a huge soft real leather fan!) I decided to go for the most sustainable, durable, charming and affordable leather that I know: the vintage one! The quality of this leather is excellent and makes it last for many decades ahead, it does not require new production and then it has a lower environmental impact.

I am wearing here very soft 80s vintage grey leather trousers from Roby Dagger at Remira Market and two second hand pieces: red and white striped shirt from Ambroeus in Milan and Ash sneakers from VInted.

(Leather!) round bag is and old Ottod’Ame piece from their store in Florence some years ago.

How do you deal with leather?

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The Ladybug dedicated outfit for (a quick) Milanese spring

We always complain that spring and autumn don’t exist anymore! It is true: we quickly go from summer to winter and the opposite and, even if I love spring and autumn because I can wear my best outfits, I realize I have a really short time to wear my favorite clothes combos, one of which is ankle boots and bare legs!

Before getting deeper into this topic, allow me a short disclaimer: I said ANKLE boots, because I am almost completely against knee boots with bare legs (except some very specific cases)!!!

For me ankle boots and bare legs, especially with dresses mean basically boho-chic style; it must not be necessarily a hippy style but it’s just a vibe that I love to maintain in my outfits and basically it’s only in spring and autumn that I can handle to wear ankle boots with bare legs: not too warm to need sandals but also not too cold to need tights (I hat tights too!).

This is a typical spring/autumn outfit that I would wear, totally sustainable (as usual!).

The starting point of the outfit is this wonderful 70s floral dress that can be worn loose or with a belt (as I did today; the belt is vintage from ND Second): it is from Notre Monde Vintage, a vintage boutique that I discovered lately with my great pleasure!

As the main color was navy blue, I decided to add all navy blue pieces: a 70s vintage spring coat from Humana Vintage and a huge touch of velvet, one of my favorite fabrics that I can wear basically in winter or in spring/summer as it is not a summer fabric at all. First piece, a very old handmade turban created by Madame Ilary for me many years ago with a beautiful vintage button as a decoration. Second one, a pair of handcrafted (in Italy) velvet ankle boots by Madame Cosette.

Have you noticed my tattoed hands? It is an incredible henna work by Laura ( on Instagram) that I would have loved to last forever (speaking of boho vibes…)

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The Ladybug is a vintage market enthusiast: why should we all be?

A few weeks ago I was getting dressed to meet some friends to visit an exhibit in Milan (Tina Modotti’s exhibition at Mudec Museum) and I suddenly realized that most of the pieces of my outfit were coming from a vintage market (one in particular actually, the Remira Market in Milan!).

It made me think that I definitely buy a lot of my stuff at vintage and second hand markets. So I listed a couple of reason for which I think we should all buy there:

  1. Because there are no massive marketing trends imposed by marketing gurus: in vintage and second hand what is “trendy” now really doesn’t matter!
  2. Because no one can tell me what to wear: I hate when in shops I receive non-requested advices on how I should dress; what I should wear and what they think it fits me better. In markets I am completely in charge of my own choices!
  3. Because I can free my imagination: with vintage and second hand pieces I can really imagine all kind of possible outfits, it could never fully happen with new clothes!
  4. Because I can find pieces that reflects my own personal style: I am a vintage gal, that’s my style. Period!
  5. Because they are circular and sustainable: it should be number one but also quite obvious I think; re-using and recycling clothes is almost the only possible choice in a polluted world also because of the fashion industry. Re-loving clothes is the most sustainable choice ever!
  6. Because I meet a lot of lovely people: I spend most of my time in markets chatting with vintage sellers about our common passion for vintage; also I know that they researched and curated those vintage pieces for me to find them and love them as they did before me!
  7. Because they inspire me: during the long times without markets I felt many times a deep lack of inspiration; I realized later that meeting people, seeing new clothes and outfits was one of my main sources of inspiration. Creativity is at the top when you meet other creative people!

These are just a few of the main reasons for my sustainable choice of buying at vintage and second hand markets, do you think that we should all do that? What is yours?

Outfit details:

  • Vintage black leather trench: Sugarmama Vintage at Remira Market
  • Vintage dress: Vintage Soul at Remira Market
  • Vintage bag: Revintage by Angela at Remira Market
  • Second hand Golden Goose ankle cowboy boots: on Ebay
  • Handmade turban: Madame Ilary
  • Handmade earrings: Made in Camper (in some other market in Milan!)

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The Ladybug on the sustainable wax print and how to wear it (sustainably)

There is no need to repeat again what African wax prints mean to me right? How much I love their colors, prints, history and how they remind me of my favorite place in the world, correct?

Ok, so let’s try to get further in the detail on how to wear them in a completely sustainable way!

First of all the choice of the print: let me tell you that I buy very rarely already sewn pieces because one of the things that I love more is the process of choosing the print and decide what to make with it! There are pictures of me sitting on the floor in a Senegalese market covered of wax fabrics and they represent a very happy moment for me. I want to decide the print based on what I know about them, their history, meaning and how they talk to me for what they represent to my eye and soul. This is how special this moment is for me. I always buy a lot of prints when I travel to Africa, sometimes I do it online (basically on Etsy from a couple of trusted African sellers) but never in Italy: they are too expensive and very often they are not of very good quality. Anyway the first rule is: let it talk to you! Second: buy it from local market sellers, if you can!

Usually when I buy a piece I already have in mind what to do with it: if I enough time when I travel I give it to local tailors (Senegalese are the best: great quality in no time and you will feel so happy because a. your piece is locally sourced and produced; b. you helped to sustain the community. It’s a great feeling, believe me!)

This was not the case for this skirt: locally sourced in Senegal (not from me but from a friend who bought it for me in this case) but locally produced in Italy by the magical hands of Madame Ilary who created a beautiful circle maxi skirt!

Our sustainable piece should then be worn in a sustainable way, for example with an handmade piece (the beautiful Aime-toi Madame by Madame Ilary black tee) and a vintage black leather biker jacket (found in a huge garage sale in Munich for only 15 euros a couple of years ago).

Arabic necklace is handmade as well as all the rings (locally sourced in Peru and handmade by Francesco Tramontano); statement golden bamboo earrings are from Giovanni Raspini (birthday present from my colleagues), blue suede and leather ankle boots are from Ouigal.

The Ladybug has a new vintage 80s shirt

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In my last post I showed you one of my new 80s vintage shirts that I bought from Maison Retro on Depop, today I show you the second one (there are a few more!).  I met Federica for the first time on Facebook and I still remember that my first purchase from her was a wool vintage plaid culottes that I adore. She was such a nice and helpful seller and I loved the skirt so much that I kept buying from her and I am now quite obsessed with her vintage pieces. Her style is strongly in line with mine and almost every new vintage piece on her shop is in my wish list!

When I bought my mustard shirt I also got this 80s purple long shirt, with a beautiful collar (sort of Korean one) and a stunning print. It is so 80s and I loved the shape so much that I couldn’t hide it and tuck it into a bottom, so I decided to wear it free and in all its beauty!

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To leave the attention on it I just paired it with a pair of jeans from Mango (from an old collection) and my thrifted Golden Goose ankle Texan boots.

As every time that I wear a 80s piece I always add a pair of earrings of the same era (I love the big statement earrings of that decade!): this time I went for this big vintage golden clip hoop earrings that I bought many years ago from a vintage seller at the” Valeggio Veste il Vintage” event, after a long search of a pair exactly like these!

Rings: Indian vintage, Berber vintage and brass (cowrie + fertility doll) from Afrohemien. 

Click here for a similar women pant!

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The Ladybug is an uncomfortable Arab Queen in Milan

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One of my best sources for shopping clothing and homeware is traveling. I buy a lot when I am abroad, especially local handcrafted pieces and if possible vintage shopping. I also prepare a sort of tailored “shopping list” depending on the country before leaving and I cherish these pieces that are for me the most tangible memories: prints, jewels, fabrics, rugs, pillows, typical local clothing are on top of my list!

Although I traveled twice this year to an Arab country (Morocco and Jordan) I couldn’t find a good embroidered tunic: most of them were cheap and made for tourists, while I was looking for more authentic ones. Funny thing is that I found what I was looking for in Budapest, in a lovely vintage shop called Jajcica where I bought two vintage Arab tunics, beautifully embroidered and apparently authentic as they both have tags written in Arabic!

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One of them is the olive green pictured here that I wore on a Saturday morning in Milan: although I mixed it with modern “more European” pieces I was shocked to realize how people stared at me in the streets or on public transportation. Seriously, is an Arab tunic that scary? What’s strange if I like other cultures’ clothes and traditions and I’m not afraid to wear them? Honestly I really cannot stand when people try to make me feel uncomfortable with their looks when I am just being myself and no one can blame me for that!

Anyway, I matched it with a beautiful handmade turban from Madame Ilary and I made a contrast with my thrifted Golden Goose Texan ankle boots.

I also added brass handmade jewelry from Italian crafters Metalica Creazioni (earrings and ring) and Meraviglioz (dragonfly necklace).

It was also fun to take pictures in front of this tiny wooden door as I realized later that if you see the picture and you don’t know that I am in Milan, you can easily think that I am in the streets of Marrakech!

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The Ladybug has a thing with vintage designer accessories

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When I am asked about my style, I used to say that I loved mixing vintage, high street and designer pieces but things have slightly changed lately. In my constant search for fashion sustainability and ethics I am slowly abandoning high street like Topshop, Zara and Mango (although I buy something every now and then) to handmade and sustainable fashion, loving the fact that something has been created for myself only, that I know who made it and how it is made (without human exploitation) and using quality fabrics that last longer. Vintage is still my pillar, as well as designer pieces especially those I can afford, which means thrifted or vintage.

Lately I also developed a real passion for finding vintage designer pieces at bargain or accessible prices, for example at Humana Vintage or online from Opherty & Ciocci, where I got these two amazing accessories that I am wearing in this post: the vintage Yves Saint Laurent scarf (used as an headscarf) and the 70s Celine clutch. Both pieces are still available on their site for a very fair price.

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My marine jacket with golden buttons is thrifted from a Salvation Army store in New York (I love charity shops!) for a few dollars, while my denim shirt with little pussybow is from Max&Co. It is a quite old collection, I have worn it a lot and I bought it during the summer sale session I think two years ago.

The military green trousers are part of my sustainable fashion turn: they are from 4.10, I love their fabric and shape but more than ever I love the fact that they are ethically made, in Italy. A piece of slow fashion and an example of amazing design, quality and respect of the environment and of people’s work. I really wish one day we could all afford more pieces like that.

90s inspired sneakers are from Dixie, hoop earrings are from Genny Pi in Milan.

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The Ladybug and the story of a pair of thrifted boots (and vintage brooch, and thrifted blazer…)

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That day when I was getting ready for work I realized that I was wearing a lot of things with a long story to tell…my thrifted Texan boots, my vintage brooch or my thrifted navy blazer.

Let’s start from the thrifted boots:  I have a huge passion for Texan boots but I have never found a pair that stole my heart. I bought a few vintage pieces in time but I re-sold all of them for different reasons and it seemed almost impossible to find my perfect pair until I saw a wonderful pair on Red Poppy Vintage Instagram account. They were her own and not for sale but I asked about them and she was so kind to give me all the details: unfortunately they were from an old Golden Goose collection and it was almost impossible to find them online or anywhere else. I searched and searched for months but nothing. I was losing hope when one day I saw them used on sale on Ebay: perfect conditions, my size and one tenth of the original price! I couldn’t believe it! At the end of the auction I was the only bidder and I won the item BUT the seller decided that she didn’t want to sell them anymore! I just wanted to cry!! I was so angry and disappointed but I decided to restart my search. Almost one month later the seller contacted me to tell me that finally she decided to sell them and she was offering them to me first at the same price that I won the auction one month earlier. No need to say that I accepted her offer immediately! And so here they are, this fantastic pair of thrifted Golden Goose Texan boots, in amazing vintage leather. Super comfortable and perfect with everything, I am super happy every time that I wear them, especially if I think of how hard it was to put my hands on them! Or should I say to put my feet into them!!!

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The vintage brooch: this is a piece that vintage jewelry lovers know very well; the Elzac iconic brooch in brass and green ceramic is very famous although it is also very hard to find. When I first saw it online (on Ebay) I just fell in love with it and I asked my Blackamoor/Vintage jewelry provider Valentina from Déjà Vu Vintage if she could find it for me. She told me that it was a rare piece and that I’d better buy that one online if I wanted it. The problem was: it was already sold! Long months of Internet search and I finally found another one on Etsy: in mint conditions (the lady got it from an old stock of a jewelry seller so it was immaculate!) and for a very good price, it was finally mine! I prayed that it wouldn’t break during its long travel to Italy from the States and it finally arrived safe to my lovable hands!

The thrifted navy blazer: I was in NYC, April 2012, when I met the adorable Sammy Davis who told me one of the best kept thrifter secrets of this town. A Salvation Army big shop where I would have found so many bargains that I couldn’t even imagine. She was so right: three floors of clothing, homeware, books and accessories, I just couldn’t believe it. I think that I made most of my life bargains there! Among them this lovely double-breasted navy blazer, marine style with golden buttons that I paid only 5 dollars and that is still today one of my favorite vintage blazers ever. I wear it with everything and it is just the perfect shape and style for me!

I am also wearing Mango cropped jeans, & Other Stories floral silk shirt and pink golden hoops from Genny Pi.

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The Ladybug and the story of a floral vintage shirt

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There is a place in Milan where I go when I am tired, stressed and anxious: it is called Humana Vintage! I guess that most of you know the Humana shops all over the world and their concept. In Milan there is a beautiful little shop behind the Duomo Cathedral where you can find a lot of amazing vintage pieces at bargain prices, especially during their frequent flash sales and promotions.

I love spending a lot of time there trying to the find my perfect match in a huge amount of vintage clothes and accessories. When I leave (usually with tons of bags!) I feel relaxed, happy, brand new! It is better than a spa and it costs even less!

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It is there, during a 50% off sales session, that I found this beautiful pink floral shirt. I loved the print immediately but only when I got home I realized that it was signed by Egon Von Furstenberg, Diane’s husband. I was curious and googled him, this is how I found out that he was a Swiss designer. I am always very happy when I get to know more about the story of the clothes that I wear, and it happens often when I buy from Humana that I pick a designer piece or a piece with  a specific story that I can learn.

I paired my pink shirt with a thrifted H&M navy pleated skirt and with tan pumps but I added another vintage touch: the beautiful 80s golden earrings that I bought in Barcelona in the beautiful Lullaby vintage shop!  

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The Ladybug and her little thrifted black dress

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I am showing for the first time one of my favorites thrifted finds ever.

It is a black Topshop dress with small flowers that I found many years ago used on Ebay and that I bought for only two pounds! I loved its vintage inspiration and of course its price! The dress was in perfect conditions but I didn’t realize that the back was completely open, which I really couldn’t afford considering my big breast!

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With my lovely friend Ilaria from Madame Ilary we decided to use the belt of the dress to create some strips to cover the back…and she also added a bow on the front! I loved the result and I can now easily wear this dress that I love also for its versatility.

In this set of pictures I paired it with light blue handmade turban by Madame Ilary, teal and golden t-bar shoes from Lazzari Store and Zara earrings.

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