The first two articles in this three-part series, ‘Mapping Italian Style,' explored Italy's fashion cities and textile districts. Now it is time to come back home to Florence.
Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, and Roberto Capucci: these are just a few of the fashion names that link their success to Florence. Their shoes, bags, leather goods, silk scarves and ties, straw hats, gloves and other unique items have contributed to the city's long and prestigious history and tradition of quality artisanship.
Florence is the city of noble families and artisans, guilds and designers. Florence is the place that has produced authentic Italian style since the Middle Ages. From Palazzo Pitti's fashion shows in the 1950s to the contemporary Pitti Immagine fashion fairs, Italian fashion's strongest, most enduring connection has been to the city of Florence.
The connection extends far beyond haute couture. Now, with the holidays upon us (and the winter sales just around the corner next January 5, 2012), the best place to shop for classic Italian styles is right here, in Florence. To aid you in your holiday shopping, I offer a very stylish walking tour of the city to help you find some of Florence's fashion treasures.
Start at the most glamorous streets of Florentine fashion: the stretch from via della Vigna Nuova and via de' Tornabuoni to via Strozzi and via Porta Rossa and to via dei Calzaiuoli and via Roma. Here, you can get a taste of top-notch Florentine fashions made with historic expertise (see the finishings and fine materials). For a super trendy look, women can find brightly colored items like flower-print blouses or pants; men should opt for more classic garments because tailoring quality is now more important than ever.
Just steps away, in the San Lorenzo market area, admire leather and fur items of all shapes and colors. Hot pink is a big trend this season and you'll find everything from leather jackets to hats, scarves and gloves in this exciting color. For Christmas, consider giving a piece of Made-in-Italy history from the Passameneria Toscana store (piazza San Lorenzo, 12r). Founded in 1952 by Franco Fanfani, this shop specializes in luxury trimmings, tassels, cushions and table runners, many in classic Florentine brocade textiles.
Step away from the crowds and take via dei Conti, which surprises with treasures from the past. Clothing, accessories and home furnishings from the golden years of Italian style: in other words, vintage! Go to Desii Vintage to complete your stylish look with huge beading and 1950s and 1960s jewelry and garments, great for both men and women.
Speaking of vintage, on the third Sunday of the month, head across the Arno to piazza Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno. If, like me, you enjoy giving a second (or third) life to fabulous garments, accessories and objects, check out this market's wares: scarves, jewelry, garments and design objects, toys, organic foods and much more.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and an incredible New Year!