Brisk can keep us all glacial, but fur can make one fine pillow. A story of the late Giuliano Ravizza, a fashion designer, an entrepreneur and an Italian physician, inventor of the prêt-à-porter in the fur sector inventing the wave of the democratization and accessibility of luxury. Now, it is his daughter Simonetta Ravizza's turn to tell us the rest of the story through an exclusive tour with her on her Milan headquarter.
Rarity I will call it myself going to Via Morimondo, a street famous for being the fashion industrial area of Milan. An hour away from the metropolitan and only tram No. 2 and some buses can access to this extent.
A ray of autumn sun was suddenly breaking out of the gray sky. Some shades of yellow, orange and red leaves were all around. I can even smell the damp earth because of last night's rain.
I was trying to ready my mind for some questions to ask Simonetta Ravizza, Italy's Queen of Fur. But I figured I would rather ask some spontaneous questions to make the interview more conversational.
I met both Barbara Bertelli and Pigola, the maison's PR at the hallway and was introduced to Simonetta. Although it's not the first time I was introduced to her - the last time was during women's fashion week. A petit blond woman smiled at me. Her eyes sunny with delight. She asked me if I am ready for an exclusive tour of her office - I said yes right away. A wall of black and white picture frames with images of Sophia Loren, Naomi Campbell, Monica Bellucci and then some other famous personalities that used to be the brand’s campaign testimonies were framed on the wall. But the heart of it all was Simonetta’s photo with her father, whom I reckon to be hearing dearly from her “mio papà” which means “my father” in Italian, as she spoke his name. She personally toured me along with Barbara at the second floor of her headquarter.
Her brand was born in the 90’s after creating a capsule collection from the family owned fur business called Annabella in Pavia. A charming town south of Milan where the Ticino River flows. On that river still lies the mighty medieval Pavia covered bridge where she recalled vividly one of the legendary campaigns - the one I sought to point out on the facade. A good looking model wearing a luxurious fur coat nifty seating on a catamaran with the bridge on the background. “We even covered the boat with pelage all over to make it look balmy. It was one of the best campaigns we did and who knows we can gratify it again on the next season,” she said with beatitude. This time we walk inside her conference room, again I saw Bellucci’s image and I was keen to ask what year was it taken. “Oh, I may not recall, but it was a time when she was just starting her career. You see her face is very, very young here,” she responded. I saw many iconic woman who walked and modeled for you, but who is your real muse?” I ask. “Inès de la Fressange is my muse because she is a very chic woman. She’s very smart with a blazer, a pair of jeans and a white shirt. Maybe she adds to her look a fur gilet or the Furissima,” she reciprocate with enthusiasm.
Had you ever seen a bag with instagram account? “Furissima” had been breaking internet by storm from Italy, to Japan, to Korea and China and almost sold-out everywhere! Furissima is a mixed lingo that comes from the English “fur” and the Italianism attached “issima” which describes the superlative form that expresses the highest degree of “strictly handmade only” fur. I alone was blown away from the very simple idea of a sac-bag made of a very velutinous pelt - one that will caress your heart with affection once it embraces your arms. A bag you can carry by hand or wrist with a “no sweat” concept and yet is selling like cupcakes!
We stretched towards the corridor where all the colored frames of editorials where drifted. I saw images of clothes made of fur mixed with leather, wool, denim and the list goes on. A question came to my mind leading me to ask Simonetta - what does fur really mean to you. “Fur is a very important element for a woman because with it, she becomes more beautiful and more sensual. I’m not only speaking about fur coat because nowadays fur is use even to create accessories like scarfs, hats, bags. A touch of fur donates actuality to the look of a woman,” Simonetta answered with devotion. Which resorted me to ask her a follow-up question. Beyond the fur, which are the must-have items for a woman’s closet then? “One of the must-have clothes for a woman is the leather jacket, and even the leather trousers. I love leather trousers worn with sneakers! Other fundamental items are the small accessories like a scarf, or a little gilet to wear under a cashmere coat. Otherwise for the grand soirée, a woman needs more important kind of furs like the zibellino reinvented in an actual way with the addition of leather like the python. This is the the ideal Simonetta Ravizza woman. The woman that I describe is a modern and chic woman, who loves to have in her closet some basic clothes reinvented every year,” she replied quickly.
The last pit stop to fuel a journalist probing soul is the creative lab of the brand. She told me that this is usually a “no entry” and “no photo zone” but today I was fortunate to bypass that, giving me the chance to see and touch the spring-summer 2018 samples. Never in my mind had I thought to be that favored and I told her “it must be my lucky day!” The moodboard and the nuances of the fragile pieces were still hushed in my consciousness: delicate, skillful, careful, ready to translate all inspiration with class, grace and seduction!
From Pavia to the rest of the world, from the lab to the runway, this is the twice as pretty story of luxury explained through the finest of quality and well-researched materials with unique DNA, style, passion and heritage that comes to life collection after collection. This is truly made in Italy tradition that is passed from generation to generation to the next - from the Guiliano Ravizza, the father to Simonetta Ravizza, the daughter.
When you buy a product you buy all the things that comes with it. You buy all history, the tradition, the technology and the craftsmanship. These are the elements that differentiates that luxury product from the normal product. A genuine luxury, realized from years and years of study, experience and passion. A fur coat realized this year is more precise and more beautiful than that of last’s years. An indispensable passe-partout!