I have always been a sucker for Italian open air markets, it is wonderfully civilized to go out once a week to buy your fresh fruit and vegetables, local produce and on special occasions like Christmas pick up cute little gifts, antiques and fashion.
I am always on the look out for a special gift for my little boy, but I always end up buying him shoes, as Italian shoes are so stylish.
Then I always see some beauties for me … those heels are deadly but they are really a work of art aren’t they?
I’m always surprised by what I find, this gramophone was impressive, I asked to photograph it but I should have asked how much he wanted for it.
There is something chaotic and unexpected about markets, it’s not about rummaging through bargain basement bins, rather discovering different textures, sights and enjoying the sensual experience.
It is part Moroccan bazaar and an extended expression of creativity and Italian style with many stores choosing to sell their latest creations at the markets
Sicilian markets are a feast for the senses, frying panini bread rolls, barbecues, roasting chestnuts, kebabs, impressive spruiking, handmade fashion, things that have fallen off the back of a truck, scarves galore and literally hundreds of stalls to explore.
The Sicilian Mercatini di Natale are a cornucopia of colours, tastes and experiences. The island of the sun gives us wonderfully sunny days of shopping to enjoy it all.
Hazelnut and almond sugar-coated slabs of Torrone are consumed at every festa during the year but, they taste better at Christmas.
The Christmas market above all reminds you Christmas is around the corner …
During my time in Italy, I have learned that there are a few things that are just innate in the people of this beautiful country. They are just born knowing how to love food, traditions, art and fashion. Fashion has always been an important aspect of the Italian lifestyle and it is something that has been going on for centuries.
In fact, Italy has been one of the leading countries in the fashion industry together with France, Great Britain, Japan and the U.S., standing out in the crowd throughout the 11th and 16th centuries, when the very first fashion designers in cities like Milan, Rome and Venice started creating and producing luxury goods, hats and jewellery of high quality. They soon became very well known and appreciated and celebrities from all over the world came to Italy to buy original clothes and accessories. But then unfortunately Italy lost its lustre in the 17th century and was replaced in the kingdom of fashion by the French haute couture for the courtiers of Louis XIV.
Then, since 1950, Italy has found its allure again and major fashion designers like Armani, Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Cavalli and Gucci have been lighting up the catwalks of the best fashion shows of every continent, with Milan being one of the top fashion capitals of the world. A huge number of the most important Italian fashion houses are now based in Milan. Just think of Prada, Armani, Moschino, Miu Miu, Trussardi and many others, you will find them in the Lombard capital. And of course, Milan is full of fashion agencies. Also, twice a year, Milan fashion weeks, the most important Italian clothing and fashion exhibitions, are organized by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion. If you would like to participate, you should know, that the first fashion week of the year dedicated to autumn and winter collections is always held always in spring (precisely in February or March), meanwhile the spring and summer collections are presented during autumn (in September or October). Once the dates have been established, it’s preferable to book your stay almost immediately, because during important events, Milan gets really overcrowded and the accommodation prices tend to increase. Also, Milan isn’t as big as for example Rome and that’s the reason why also public transport gets easily full. Fortunately there are online booking providers such as venere.com that make the search for a nice and not too expensive accommodation in Milan easier.
Returning to Italian fashion, it has to be said that Hollywood stars addressed – and still do – to the most famous Italian designers to get a unique piece of clothing for a première or a gala, knowing that Italian glamour has always been a synonym of high quality and style. However, lately, many think that the Italian fashion and style have been declining and that Italian designers have nothing new to say. While other fashion capitals like London, New York and Seoul, are constantly producing young talents that design and create collections with different influences and a more contemporary approach, the best and most famous Italian fashion designers are still those you heard about ten or twenty years ago, whose style is very well known and probably too conventional for 2014. Italian fashion is considered to be all about conservatism, appropriateness and tradition, and when you think about the Italian glamour, you think about the past and something that does not exude personality, but only elegance and old style.
But this is starting to change. The big brand names of the fashion history are moving to the side, giving more opportunities to young designers and fashion talents. The creative direction of these huge brands does not pass through the family anymore: designers like Gucci or Valentino are betting everything on new talents such as Frida Giannini, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli. The recently closed “Glamour of Italian Fashion” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the proof of this new reverse trend: it celebrated the history and beauty of the Italian glamour looking at its future and the ideas of the new guard.
About the contributor:
Mary Johnson collaborates and writes for various local and international websites and magazines since 2010. She is British, likes reading, hiking, she loves animals and is also a passionate traveller.
Thanks so much to Mary for this article and guest post, hope to collaborate with her again soon .
Italy is a place where fashion comes alive. Italians have a real flare for it whether it be elderly ladies dressed in colorful silk tops and high heels, or the latest shop window display from Dolce and Gabanna there is an astounding level of creative expression happening deep within the Italian psyche which is inspiring.
A favorite pass-time of mine whenever I find myself in a major city on my meridional home in southern Italy is to wonder around a particular fashion district and drool over the latest fashion or simply marvel at what there is to admire in the displays.
I don’t mind the frivolous tourist shops, I know it’s kitschy but there is still something mildly Sicilian about it and there is colour in it just the same.
Then comes my favorite Sicilian craft, which is the ceramics, I simply can’t get enough of the different styles and designs, my dream is to fill my house with ceramics!
The jewelry and silver work available all over Sicily leaves me speechless. I’m particularly in love with the characteristic use of red coral and lava stone in original designs. These two contrasting elements from the sea, to the earth are a perfect metaphor for the nature of this island. I’m still looking for the perfect piece to add to my collection to aptly depict my love of Sicilian jewelry.
Then there are those shop windows or shop fronts who leave you simply surprised and prick your curiosity. The timeless artisan traditions of Sicily are reflected in objects like elaborate hand made baptism gowns for babies or the hodgepodge of antique shops filled with new discoveries and treasures.
I will never grow tired of window shopping in Sicily and Italy in general.
Flicking through the September editions of Italian Marie Claire and Glamour magazine I can’t help but point out some stunning winter looks that I’ve fallen head over heals for. Italians have this fashion thing down pat that’s for sure. And these are actually things that normal gals can fit into!
I’ve always admired Twin-set by Simona Barbieri but their winter collection is beautiful, classy and comfortable. I love their jackets which are always so exceptional. I only wish the prices could be a bit more reasonable. Drool over the collection and do some window shopping at the online store at www.shop.twin-set.it
Made for Loving has an Autumn/Winter collection that looks too comfortable for words, clothing that is inviting to wear while terribly simple and perfect for the winter. Check them out at www.madeforloving.it
Ok so this next one isn’t Italian it’s actually French, but I couldn’t go past the classic taste of Naf Naf Paris. I adore anything vintage and believe the best fashion is what survives through the decades and never really ages. In their current collection there are many pieces that are must haves in any stylish gal’s wardrobe. Simply stunning. www.nafnaf.it
It was love at first sight when I saw this stunning coat from Desigual, the colour, cut and original composition cannot be ignored. www.desigual.com
I’m loving Dolce & Gabbana’s latest experiments with this star motif it is wonderfully original and there is nothing like being attracted by the stars. (the hat is from Paule KA)
Once again I am attracted by this retro 1960’s look this time by gazel. I adore scarves, hats and big bags for the winter so this look is perfect for me. I would only have the skirt down to the knee please, as I don’t have the height for a mini.
Fendi is one of the big names of Italian fashion, they are always elegant without being over the top and their bags are to die for even though they are totally out of most peoples price range. But a girl can dream, hats off to Fendi for making us dream of them. www.fendi.com
Last but not least there is Fabiana Filippi who I’ve only recently stumbled upon her current collection strikes me as typically Italian. This collection is iconic in the sense that they are timeless clothes that your average stylish Italian lady would throw on without a thought to look marvellous while she is doing her shopping. www.fabianafilippi.com
(All images are taken from the September editions of Italian Marie Claire and Glamour magazines.)