The Allure of Made in Italy

The Allure of Made in Italy - Rezzonico Chandelier by Seguso d'Arte Vetri - murano glass - murano glass lighting - venetian glass - italian craftsmanship - italian leather - italy

Made in Italy. What do you think of when seeing that iconic label? Fine leather goods, sparkling hand-blown glass, impeccable haute-couture… Italy does it all and has been doing it for centuries! Quality, taste, and style are expected from Italian craftsmen where consumers equate Italy’s traditionally made goods with luxury. The long tradition of Italian craftsmanship has continued with generations of artisans perfecting their techniques, innovating the trade, and using their creativity. It’s no wonder so many high-end Italian brands do so well by drawing on the rich history behind the label: Made in Italy… but, what exactly makes that label so special?

Off the coast of Venice, you can take a water taxi to the delightfully charming island of Murano to see breathtaking glass creations. You’ll walk across bridges linking the narrow streets that have housed glassmakers since the 13th century, peering in on shops displaying colorful, crystalline glasses, necklaces, and more.

Made in Italy - Rezzonico Chandelier by Seguso d'Arte Vetri - murano glass lighting - murano glass chandelier - purple murano glass chandelier Rezzonico Chandelier by Seguso d’Arte Vetri

Today, there are still many craftsmen perfecting the art of glass blowing. The well-known brand Seguso Vetri d’Arte has records dating their family’s tradition of crafting glass back to 1397 — and the secrets of their art have been passed down from father to son for twenty-two generations. They treasure not only the documents and drawings of their past that establishes their history but the knowledge of glass blowing that has been taught and shared in the family. This is their heritage, and they continue to thrive with their work in over one hundred international museums, prestigious international hotels like the Venetian and Starwood hotels, and in the stores of well-known luxury brands around the world. You can see Seguso Vetri d’Arte glass door handles worldwide at the entrances to Christian Dior boutiques — take a look next time you stroll by to catch a glimpse of their beautiful work.

Made in Italy - Manuela Zanvettori - Venetian glass jewelry - murano glass jewelry - mjriamb photography Jewelry by Manuela Zanvettori. Photograph by MjriamB.

Glass is more than homegoods of course, so if you go to Murano looking for jewelry be sure to look up Manuela Zanvettori. Both jewelers are creating fresh, original designs combined with the ancient techniques of Murano glass making. Glittering handmade jewels from the island are the perfect addition to your jewelry collection!

Now let’s travel south through the rolling hills and picturesque towns to the heart of Tuscany, Florence. Walking through the Florentine streets, it’s easy to see what the historical trade of the area is from the countless wallets, purses, and belts sold on both the street and in local shops. All made of, you guessed it, leather!

Made in Italy - Gucci Craftsmanship. Photo by Visala Wong, Vizion Creation - italian leather goods - italian leather purses Gucci Craftsmanship. Photo by Visala Wong, Vizion Photography & Design, @vforvisala

Whether you want a simple pouch for your money, or an elaborate bag that looks like only the most glamorous Italian fashionista could pull it off, you’ll find the handmade Italian leather goods here for much less than you will in your favorite department stores back home. Of course, you can’t go wrong with Gucci whose birthplace is Florence. But for a more authentic experience, consider Scuola del Cuoio where you can watch craftsmen create your Made in Italy leather goods in front of you. Created after World War II to give orphans of the war a means to learn a practical trade with which to earn a living, Scuola del Cuoio is a great establishment to support. Continuing the tradition today, they teach the younger generation the historical art of leather. And by the way, you can totally pull off that gorgeous, complicated affair of a handbag! Italian leather looks good on everyone.

Made in Italy - Scuola del Cuoio - italian leather goods - italian leather purses - leather goods florence italy - leather crafstmanship Photo Courtesy of Scuola del Cuoio
koket haute craftsmanship

Leather and glass may be the most accessible Made in Italy goods, but there are many additional gems of Italian craft that are world famous. That beautiful table you have with the Carrara marble top, that is so in fashion right now, may very well have come from the Apuan Alps — Italy’s most marble-rich area. Marble and Italy go together like hand and glove — think Michelangelo’s David. The marble industry is one of the country’s oldest production sectors. The Temple of Jupiter Stator, built in 146 b.c. was the first building in Italy made entirely out of marble. Companies like Bufalini Marmi and Namco are at the top of the marble game — the Bufalini family itself has been in the industry for over 300 years. These companies own entire quarries filled with that beautiful marble we all lust over!

Made in Italy - Gucci FW13 Detail, Photo by Hitori Production / Courtesy of Visala Wong, Vizion Creation - italian fashion - love happens volume 2 - gucci fashion Gucci FW13 Detail, Photo by Hitori Production / Courtesy of Visala Wong, Vizion Photography & Design, @vforvisala

Though Carrara marble is absolutely gorgeous, let’s talk about a subject near and dear to our luxury-loving hearts — Italian fashion. Italy was not known for its fashion at the beginning of the 20th century, though they were celebrated for their quality textiles, leathers, and their opulent garbs dating back to the Renaissance. The 1950s marked a change in that — the era of la dolce vita brought on a new generation of fashion in the country, one that everyone wanted to be a part of. G.B. Giorgini launched a landmark collection in 1951 featuring designers like Emilio Pucci and the Fontana Sisters, who went on to have their pieces sold in high-end stores like Bergdorf Goodman. One could easily find Audrey Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor buying Italian shoes in Rome, possibly from someone like Salvatore Ferragamo, a top shoemaker in Italy.

Though the 1950s was the start, the eras that launched the most iconic luxury Italian fashion brands were the 70s & 80s. Who comes to mind when thinking of Italian fashion? Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, and Moschino all kicked off the era of high-end boutique fashion in this time period. No longer having to rely on the ateliers of French haute-couture, consumers flocked to the Italian prêt-à-porter styles. Though they were more accessible, the clothes have never stopped being absolutely fabulous.

Made in Italy - Gucci Craftsmanship. Photo by Visala Wong, Vizion Creation - italian leather goods - italian leather purses Gucci Craftsmanship. Photo by Visala Wong, Vizion Photography & Design, @vforvisala

Made in Italy continues today to be linked to luxury and outstanding craftsmanship. Italy’s rich cultural heritage inspires every industry in the country — from fashion houses like Valentino and Prada to new Italian made glamorous shoes by brands like Aquazzura and the family glassmakers in Murano. There’s no doubt that creativity and dedication come naturally to the country’s artisans, and the time-held tradition of making fine Italian goods isn’t going away any time soon.

Words by Karina Klemz
Article Originally Appeared in Love Happens Volume 2, 2018

Visiting Italy? Be sure to check out our Design Lover’s Guide to Milan!