The Italian Fashion Family Diaspora (2023)

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Increasingly the children of the most famous brands are going their own ways.

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By Kerry Olsen

MILAN — When Alice Etro was a little girl, she used to spend after-school hours with her father, Kean Etro, creative director of Etro men’s wear, playing with fabric samples in the design studio of the fashion brand that her grandfather Gimmo started in 1968. She’d create garments from off-cuts for her dolls and play with the tubes from the rolls of cloth.

“I loved it all,” she said. She remembers the thrill of attending a runway show, and the walk-through alone with her parents. “I wanted to be him,” she added, of her designer father. Expectations were she would follow in his footsteps and join the family firm, just as he and his three siblings had followed their parents. As, indeed, has been the norm among many of Italy’s storied fashion dynasties.

There’s an expression in Italian — “capitalismo familiare” or family capitalism — that denotes the passing on of a private company from one generation to the next, said Matteo Persivale, special correspondent for the newspaper Corriere della Sera. For decades it has been the rule in fashion, where the stewardship of brands was passed down like a closely kept saffron risotto recipe or a chalet in Cortina.

Angela, Luca and Vittorio Missoni took over from their parents, Rosita and Ottavio, the founders of Missoni, for example. Silvia Fendi is a third generation Fendi, working in the company that her grandparents Adele and Edoardo founded in 1925, (and her daughter, Delfina Delettrez Fendi, is now artistic director of jewelry). James Ferragamo, a third-generation descendant of Salvatore Ferragamo, the founder of Ferragamo, is a brand, product and communications director at the family company. And one of the fourth generation of Zegnas, Edoardo Zegna, is in the running to take over the brand, created in 1910 by Ermenegildo Zegna.

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Going into the family trade was such common practice, said Laudomia Pucci, the daughter of Emilio Pucci, that even when she was working for Hubert de Givenchy in the late 1980s in Paris, he was always telling her: “Soon you’ll return home to take over your father’s business.” She did, in 1989, and described the concept of assuming the mantel of the family firm as “quite normal, and organic.”

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But a combination of luxury’s globalization, which has led many family-owned companies to sell ownership stakes to conglomerates or become publicly listed entities to survive, and the blurring of lines among all creative disciplines, has changed the narrative.

Increasingly, the nextgen of luxury’s great families — often referred to as “figli d’arte,” a term referring to a child who inherits a parent’s profession, usually in the arts sector — are looking beyond the ancestral parapet, applying what they learned while growing up in one creative sector to work in another.

Ms. Etro, for example, 34, studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni, one of the leading fashion schools in Milan, and spent about 10 years at another family-run tailoring and textile company, Larusmiani (where her uncle Guglielmo Miani is chief executive).

But in 2019, rather than joining Etro as she had once imagined, Ms. Etro became the creative director of Westwing Italia, one of the 11 national sites operated by a European interiors e-commerce retailer that specializes in daily newsletters offering a world of shoppable home merchandise from bed linens to crockery.

“I prefer the mass rather than the niche,” Ms. Etro said. “Luxury should be for everyone. It doesn’t have to be expensive and out of reach.” Her family supported her decision to branch out, she continued, noting it was moments like the time she spent as a child in the atmospheric Milanese home of her grandmother Ghighi Miani, with its maximalist interiors, that may ultimately have inspired her most.

Alessandro Marinella, 27, a fourth-generation member of the family that founded E. Marinella, the Neapolitan company known for making printed silk ties beloved of President Barack Obama, is not only helping the brand expand in the digital realm, but focusing on something he regards just as steeped in luxury tradition as neckwear: food.

In 2019 Mr. Marinella co-founded Marchio Verificato, which produces, certifies and supplies specialty Italian foods. The company not only distributes some of Italy’s prime produce to stores and restaurants, but cultivates crops in a traditional manner: For example, its Vesuvio Piennolo tomatoes are grown in volcanic soil and then strung on hemp threads, tied in circles and kept dry for months.

“Eating well is important,” said Mr. Marinella, “but where and how also denotes a kind of social status.”

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So does technology, according to Francesca Versace, 39, a daughter of Santo Versace, brother of Donatella and the brand’s founder Gianni. As a result, she has traded in her ready-to-wear birthright for the chance to start an NFT business.

“My love for fashion will never diminish; it’s in my heart,” she said of her family’s achievements. But she believes the zeitgeist has shifted.

“My instinct tells me, it’s time to move to the new space,” she said, referring to the metaverse. “It’s more of a cultural change than a technological one.”

Later this spring she and her partners plan to unveil Public Pressure, an NFT marketplace with an internal NFT creative studio to help musicians, brands and film studios conceptualize NFT campaigns. The business — founded by Ms. Versace; Giulia Maresca, a former designer for Christian Louboutin and Tod’s; Sergio Mottola, a blockchain entrepreneur; and Alfredo Violante, a music industry insider — is intended, Ms. Versace said, to recreate the Versace razzmatazz she remembers from her family’s fashion shows, but in the digital space.

Similarly, Larissa Castellano Pucci, 25, the daughter of Laudomia and granddaughter of Emilio, believes the future is virtual. She studied information science at Cornell University and worked as a 3-D artist for Satore Studio, a creative company in London, rather than enter the family brand (which, in any case, was acquired by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 2000). And in January, Ms. Pucci released her first collection on DressX, a retail platform for digital-only clothes.

Called Marea, the collection featured garments that shimmer like fish scales, undulating algae-like hemlines and gowns produced from minute digital seashells. Now it is set to be part of Crypto Fashion Week, a weeklong event in March dedicated to blockchain-powered digital fashion.

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“It’s rare for someone so junior to have creative carte blanche,” Ms. Pucci said of the appeal of working with DressX, rather than a traditional atelier. In the real world, “it’s almost impossible to create something completely new as a young designer,” as costs and small production runs hinder you.

This spring FouLara, Ms. Pucci’s scarf brand, plans to debut an NFT minting service to enable users to design and mint custom NFT prints.

Laudomia Pucci said she was thrilled that Larissa was trying something that resonated with her and her generation — and that she believes Emilio Pucci would have looked fondly on it, too. “It’s needed in Italy,” she said. “We must look ahead, not only to our great past.”

Her daughter agreed. “If you hail from a background that has so much, you either follow in the footsteps or try to carve out your own identity,” Ms. Pucci said. “Otherwise, it’s overbearing. I can only reimagine my legacy; I can’t escape it.”

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FAQs

When did Italian fashion become recognized worldwide? ›

In the 1950s and 1960s, Italian fashion regained popularity worldwide. During this time, the production of fabrics growth up, allowing fashion designers to have access to high-quality fabrics a century later. Three major production centers in the wool industry started to develop in Italy: Veneto, Piedmont, and Tuscany.

Why is fashion important to Italian culture? ›

Fashion gives people the opportunity to express themselves and everyone is free to choose how they do this. The fact that fashion is so important for personal expression and growth is also confirmed by the numbers: fashion is the third biggest industry in Italy, which is certainly nothing frivolous.

How did Italian fashion become popular? ›

Italian fashion reached its peak during the Renaissance. As Italy is widely recognized as the cradle and birthplace of the Renaissance, art, music, education, finance and philosophy flourished, and along with it, Italian fashion designs became very popular (especially those worn by the Medicis in Florence.

Is Italy the home of fashion? ›

To this day, Italy's name is synonymous with trends in high fashion, which was true for the country since the Renaissance. Italy's reputation in fashion was first set by the monarchy. Everyone wanted to dress like the nobility, and they dressed lavishly.

Is Italy the fashion capital of the world? ›

The Italian city of Milan is recognised internationally as one of the world's most important fashion capitals, along with Paris, New York and London.

Is Italy the most fashionable country? ›

France comes in at a close second: The country is home to legendary designers including Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy.
...
10 Most Fashionable Countries.
Country NameBest Countries Overall Rank
1. Italy13
2. France8
3. Spain16
4. United States4
6 more rows
22 Sept 2016

What is the fashion capital of Italy? ›

Milan is without a doubt the capital of Italian and international fashion. Cosmopolitan, it incorporates luxury, art, gastronomy and culture… it's the perfect place for fashionistas and industry enthusiasts.

How is Italian fashion different? ›

They choose simplicity overabundance, classic and elegant pieces, and splurging on rare things rather than going for the trends. For the French fashion, less is more, while for the Italian, more is more. What all the Italian fashion brands have in common is the abundance of colors and prints.

What is the traditional Italian clothing called? ›

The basis of the female national costume is a pleated skirt (called "gonna"), a white embroidered shirt (camicia) and a corsage. The costume was complemented by a bright apron and a headscarf (fazzoletto). These are the main elements of a women's Italian costume, found in all regions of the country.

Who started Italian fashion? ›

In the '50s, fashion shows became more prevalent Italy, thanks in part to Italian entrepreneur Giovanni Battista Giorgini, who was instrumental in bringing it up to par with the Parisians.

What is the oldest Italian fashion brand? ›

Gucci. Founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, the label is one of the oldest Italian clothing brands going.

What is Italian style fashion? ›

Italian fashion is not about too much layering. It is about choosing a hero piece and wearing it well. This means that your outfit may simply consist of a great dress and shoes, or a wide-legged pair of pants with a plain blouse. If you have a brightly colored coat, aim to keep the rest of your outfit neutral.

What is the fashion capital of the world? ›

Milan is officially named the fashion capital of the world.

What country makes the best fashion? ›

These are the top countries viewed as fashionable by global survey respondents.
...
  • Italy. #1 in Fashionable. ...
  • France. #2 in Fashionable. ...
  • Spain. #3 in Fashionable. ...
  • United States. #4 in Fashionable. ...
  • United Kingdom. ...
  • Switzerland. ...
  • South Korea. ...
  • Singapore.

Which country is the home of fashion? ›

France is the leading country for the fashion industry in the world, according to the Brands Countries IPX by IFDAQ. With more than 2,300 index points, France was ahead of Italy (2,205 points) and the U.S. (1,866 points).

Which is the 2nd fashion capital of the world? ›

Best 10 Major Global Fashion Cities
RANKCAPITALSCOUNTRY
1.ParisFrance
2.LondonUnited Kingdom
3.New YorkUnited States
4.MilanItaly
6 more rows
29 Apr 2022

What is the high fashion industry of Italy? ›

Among the most famous Italian luxury companies, those generating the highest sales value are Prada, Giorgio Armani, Max Mara, Moncler, Dolce & Gabbana and Salvatore Ferragamo.

Why are Italians so stylish? ›

The Italians have always had an attachment to the items they wear. As far back as the Italian Renaissance in the 14th Century, fashion has been about expressing personal appearance, confidence and, yes, status and money. It's not seen as the slightly taboo subject for young men it appears in other demographics.

Which is the most beautiful country in the world it is Italy? ›

It is certainly no bias that we consider Italy to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. You just have to glance at some of those breathtaking landscapes and you are sold. From the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites to the orange groves at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily.

Is Italy a luxury country? ›

Italy- the birthplace of luxury

Italy is the Europe's number one country for gross value in luxury goods production. are at the base of the most renowned and unique luxury production in the world.

What is the most popular Italian fashion brand? ›

The Best Italian Fashion Brands
  • Missoni. Current Designer: Angela Missoni. ...
  • Versace. Current Designer: Donatella Versace. ...
  • Prada. Current Designers: Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. ...
  • Giorgio Armani. Current Designer: ...
  • Gucci. Current Designer: ...
  • Fendi. Current Designer: ...
  • Bottega Veneta. Current Designer: ...
  • Sunnei. Current Designer:
2 May 2022

What to wear in Italy so you don't look like a tourist? ›

Dress Nicely

Let's just say that wearing shorts is a good way to advertise that you're a tourist. Steve suggests dressing “for the occasion” and making sure you present yourself neatly. “Italians take a lot of pride in their appearance and usually dress nicely for any kind of public outing.

What is the most Italian color? ›

Azzurro (literally, azure) is the national color of Italy. The light blue color, together with the tricolor flag, is a symbol of Italy.

What are 3 traditions in Italy? ›

Here are eight for your list:
  • Epiphany and La Befana. Throughout Florence, it is tradition for an old woman to deliver gifts to children on Epiphany Eve. ...
  • Carnevale. ...
  • Florentine New Year. ...
  • Scoppio del Carro. ...
  • Patron Saint Feast Day. ...
  • Notte Bianca. ...
  • Festa della Rificolana. ...
  • Republic Day.
21 Feb 2017

Who is the mother of fashion? ›

CR Muse: Jeanne Lanvin, Mother of Fashion.

Who is known as father of fashion? ›

Charles Frederick Worth
Died10 March 1895 (aged 69) Paris, France
NationalityEnglish
OccupationFashion designer
Known forCreating haute couture
7 more rows

Why is Italian Vogue so popular? ›

It picks up on pressing issues facing contemporary culture with a fiery, controversial and unapologetic attitude. Vogue Italia is often regarded as the editorial vanguard of the fashion world; its past covers have been known to push, break and obliterate boundaries.

Which luxury brand is from Italy? ›

Which luxury brand is from Italy? Numerous well-known Italian luxury brands, including Valentino, Versace, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Trussardi, Moschino, and Zegna, have their main headquarters in Italy.

Who is Italy's first biggest fashion house? ›

Gucci – Our first Italian fashion house

Nowadays, the brand is one of the oldest luxury fashion brands that are from Italy and producing luxury goods categories for men and women. It had become a prestigious brand, which symbolizes the authenticity of the Italian tag around the world.

Do Italians wear Gucci? ›

A quick walk around most Italian cities confirms it—the streets are packed with Prada and Gucci-clad locals. So, if you're ready to channel your inner Mediterranean, there are ways that you can dress like an Italian woman herself.

What are the 4 fashion cities? ›

Called the "Big Four", the most prominent fashion capitals of the world—in chronological order of their eponymous fashion weeks, are New York, London, Milan, and Paris, which receive the majority of press coverage.

What European country is famous for fashion? ›

ITALY, THE MOST INFLUENTIAL EUROPEAN COUNTRY IN FASHION.

What city has the best fashion in the world? ›

If you ask which city can rightfully be considered the world capital of fashion, the majority will most likely name Paris, Milan, or London.
...
The World's Most Fashionable Cities For 2021
  1. New York, USA. New York is recognized as the official capital of US fashion. ...
  2. London, UK. ...
  3. Paris, France. ...
  4. Milan, Italy. ...
  5. Los Angeles, USA.

Can you wear jeans in Italy? ›

Are jeans appropriate to wear in Italy? While Europeans tend to dress up more than Americans, you still can wear jeans in Italy. However, avoid acid wash and extremely distressed denim and opt for medium-dark blues and blacks. Black skinny jeans always look chic in Europe!

Which country has most beautiful dresses? ›

16 of the world's most beautiful national costumes
  • 1/16. Russia. The traditional outfit is known at the sarafan while the headdress is the kokoshnik and worn by married women. ...
  • 2/16. Turkey. ...
  • 3/16. Kurdistan. ...
  • 4/16. Kyrgyzstan. ...
  • 5/16. China. ...
  • 6/16. Yemen. ...
  • 7/16. North-West Africa. ...
  • 8/16. Pakistan.

Who is the No 1 fashion designer in the world? ›

1. Calvin Klein. Calvin Klein is the founder of the famous fashion company and label Calvin Klein Inc. Established in 1968, the company primarily designs clothing, perfumes, watches, and jewelry.

Which is the most fashionable city in Europe? ›

Paris is a longstanding favourite and it's not difficult to see why this fairytale city is Europe's most fashionable capital.

When did fashion become global? ›

In the 1980s, the fashion industry saw the rise of globalization. For the first time, consumers were first introduced to cyber technology, transnational corporations, and electronic mass media. These three core innovations fundamentally changed how fashion was produced, marketed, sold, bought, worn, and discarded.

When was the first fashion show in Italy? ›

The historic event in 1952 was organized by Forte dei Marmi-born businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini and the city's most illustrious music and dance hall would go on to hold runway shows for another three decades.

Is the famous fashion brand founded in Italy in 1921? ›

Gucci was founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci (1881–1953) in Florence, Tuscany. Under the direction of Aldo Gucci (son of Guccio), Gucci became a worldwide-known brand, an icon of the Italian Dolce Vita.

When was the first fashion show in the world? ›

The modern fashion show dates back to the 1860s, when pioneering English fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth used live models instead of mannequins to present his creations in Paris. By the turn of the century, events known as "fashion parades" had started to spread to London and New York.

What are the 7 types of fashion? ›

There are seven (7) dressing styles:
  • Classic.
  • Relaxed.
  • Dramatic.
  • Creative.
  • Rebellious.
  • Feminine.
  • Elegant Chic.

Which country is the origin of fashion? ›

The history of fashion design begins in Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt. In these cultures, clothing and fashion were status symbols. Those who were wealthy would wear expensive and stylish garments that were colorful, while the poor would wear neutral colors and their garments were cheap but useful.

Which nation country has had the greatest influence of clothing industry? ›

France is the leading country for the fashion industry in the world, according to the Brands Countries IPX by IFDAQ.

Which Italian city is known for fashion? ›

Milan is without a doubt the capital of Italian and international fashion. Cosmopolitan, it incorporates luxury, art, gastronomy and culture… it's the perfect place for fashionistas and industry enthusiasts.

What is the oldest fashion line? ›

Hermès! The French fashion house is the world's oldest luxury brand still in operation today. It was established in 1837 by Thierry Hermès.

Who was the number 1 most important fashion designer in the 1920s? ›

1)Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel

Coco soon became a famed fashion designer as she revolutionised the way women wore clothes, paving a new way for the fashion brand, she, being a fashion icon herself. Her simple but elegant styles changed the course of fashion history.

What is the oldest name brand clothing? ›

Hermès. We begin with one of the oldest luxury fashion brands in the world. The story of the French fashion house begins in 1837, with Thierry Hermès setting up his first harness-making workshop in Paris.

Why is it called a catwalk? ›

The original catwalks, in the 1880s, were on ships and backstage in theaters, and they were named for the careful, delicate way a cat walks.

Who invented fashion? ›

Charles Frederick Worth is believed to be the first fashion designer of the world, from 1826 to 1895. Charles, who was earlier a draper, set up a fashion house in Paris. It was he who started the tradition of fashion houses and telling his customers what kind of clothing would suit them.

Which city had the first fashion show? ›

According to William Leach's Land of Desire, America's first fashion show was likely held in 1903, at a New York City specialty store called Ehrich Brothers. By the 1920s, shows had already gone mainstream, mainly held at department stores and hotels.

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