MILAN — Storied Florence-based brand Loretta Caponi is introducing a tailored ready-to-wear line for spring 2018 as an evolution of its handcrafted innerwear, loungewear and home collection. This marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Loretta Caponi shop in Florence’s Borgo Ognissanti.
Over the years the brand has catered to royal families from Belgium to England as well as the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Gettys and celebrities including Madonna and Jane Fonda. Loretta Caponi stood out with the use of cotton, linen and silk at a time when the innerwear category was defined by synthetics and nylon.
The new collection comprises 150 pieces of men’s and women’s pajamas, nightgowns and lingerie that can be worn outside, as well as a few dresses with the brand’s recognizable chain stitch floral embroideries on a white cotton piquet design, for example, or smock embroideries. Colorful cherries, roses and poppies flank motifs depicting toucans and butterflies on palazzo pants and silk caftans. A slipdress is embellished with 30 meters of lace, explained Luca Caponi at a presentation of the line in Milan’s Palazzo Parigi hotel. She’s the daughter of Loretta Caponi, who died in 2015. The mother and daughter worked together for 30 years fine-tuning the art of embroidery.
“It’s a cultural challenge, all this craftsmanship compared with today’s rushed pace and mass-market products,” said her son Guido Conti Caponi, chief operating officer who’s in charge of developing the ready-to-wear division. “We are pleased when we see the surprise in our customers’ eyes. People are looking for uniqueness.” The executive said that he hoped to bring in new generations with a contemporary collection without compromising the quality and craft of the brand.
Caponi is clearly still passionate about her work. “We are not going to change the way things are done, we will preserve the quality and the craft, no matter what,” she said.
The company has grown into an international one, counting Americans among its top customers. There is a long-established store with an atelier on Florence’s Via Tornabuoni as well as a unit in Tuscany’s luxury beach resort Forte dei Marmi, and an ongoing collaboration with Luisa Via Roma and at Moscow’s Tsum.
In the 9,180-square-foot, frescoed shop in Florence, decorated with antique furniture, customers can browse the vast selection of precious fabrics and even design their own pieces. The company has more than 10,000 designs of tablecloths, towels, sheets, pillows, infant and toddler clothes and tailored linen patterns for men and women.
The brand’s history is peppered with funny anecdotes that reflect customers’ more curious requests and the skills of the artisans working at Loretta Caponi. For example, one eccentric French count asked for custom embroidered pillows and cushions for his hot-air balloon. An English duke requested the silhouette of a “peculiar guest” of his castle — referring to a ghost— embroidered on his sheets. An Arab princess expecting her first son commissioned sheets and pillow cases in silk and satin with matching nightgowns and robes realized in seven different colors and styles, one for each day she would lie in bed before the birth. Seven cradle liners and outfits were created for the newborn to match the mother’s linens.
One of the brand’s staples is the long “Fiocchini [small bows]” nightgown, inspired by an original piece of the early 1900s.