High technology has inarguably made production better and more efficient in many parts of the manufacturing cycle, but sometimes, the old ways are the best ways.
LOOMING LARGE While lightening-fast electric looms now produce much of Missoni’s fabrics, the fashion firm’s knitwear DNA is inextricably meshed with 17 mechanical raschel looms, the first of which were acquired by Ottavio Missoni in 1969.
Traditionally used to create lace fabrics, Missoni knitwear technicians tweaked the raschel looms, adding extra warp yarns and stabilizing loom beams to achieve the iconic zigzag pattern — which requires as many as 960 yarns placed vertically on the warp.
Today, the old looms remain as the trusted workhorses in the factory in Sumirago, Italy. Missoni’s textile specialists continue to evolve their functionality, achieving 3-D and ombré effects as well as multilayered knit mixes of yarns such as silk, cashmere, linen and cotton.
STITCHES IN TIME Over more than five decades, Valentino’s seamstresses have embroidered, appliquéd and stitched on enough beads to create an embellished dress big enough to cloak the entire Eternal City, where the fashion house’s atelier resides.
The home of these couture sartorial skills, in Piazza Mignanelli, is divided into two workshops. Heavy fabrics and outerwear are handled by one group of tailors, while the other specializes in lighter textiles and embroideries. Bold, precise needlework from this workshop created the coral fronds that branch over several designs from Valentino’s couture fall collection. A cape and matching dress with the motif took 750 hours to complete. RELATED STORY: Training the Next Generation of Italian Artisans >>
SPECIAL EDITION Though he hailed from nearby Naples, Salvatore Ferragamo became the epitome of the Florentine artisan, moving his shoemaking business there in the Thirties.
Some of his shoemaking techniques are still used on the workshop floor today, and they are also behind the luxury brand’s new Special Edition shoes for men. Handmade in seven styles out of full grain, alligator or calf leather, every pair of Special Edition shoes is created with 260 handcrafted steps over three weeks in an atelier that produces only 10 pairs of shoes a day. Starting price: $2,100.
GEM FOCUS Serenity presides around Bulgari’s historical high-end jewelry workshop in Rome, where artisans listen to music through headphones to keep focused on their steady handiwork. Some peer through powerful magnifying glasses to mount tiny stones in elaborate designs, while others set bigger gems in a wax mold — a process used before a precious jewelry piece is cast in gold.
Bulgari’s forte for colored stones is shown in this tourmaline, amethyst and emerald necklace, where emerald beads are carefully attached to conical gold links. Each step of workmanship is meticulously examined by quality control before the final piece is ready to hit the glass case at retail.
FUR FORTITUDE Replete with dedicated fur artisans, Fendi’s in-house fur atelier has been part of the company since its founding in 1925. Over the decades, the highly skilled craftsmen have evolved and invented techniques to keep up with designer Karl Lagerfeld’s innovative renditions of the ultraluxe material.
Modern Fendi fur treatments include shearing, weaving, dyeing with edgy patterns such as camouflage, and even dipping some pelts in 24-karat gold.
Pictured, a key fall fur look for the brand, the elaborately made Astuccio fur. Created using the “let-out technique,” the fur is cut into long, thin stripes in a V shape. These stripes are then sewn back together on blocks in a staggered style to give the fur a longer shape.
The process demands a nimble, untiring hand — a mink cape takes about 220 hours to complete.
BAMBOO STORY Artisanship is behind Gucci’s most iconic accessories, but the story of the bamboo handle is also testament to the house’s style savvy.
In the midst of war-time rationing in 1947, fine leathers were scarce. The craftsmen heated bamboo cane imported from Japan, bending it into a semicircle as a handle on a small structured handbag. The Gucci Bamboo bag dangled from the arms of countless celebrities in the Fifties and Sixties, and was one of the Florentine fashion house’s most successful handbags.
Fond of updating house classics, Gucci creative director Frida Giannini reinterpreted the design in the New Bamboo, made up of 130 pieces hand-assembled by an artisan, requiring two days to finish.
The bamboo handle is still created as it was more than 65 years ago, and is featured on several other Gucci handbags and briefcase styles for fall, including the new Lady Lock women’s bag.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty