FOR THE LOVE OF LUXE

Byline: Alessandra Ilari

MILAN — The concept of luxury for Cesare Fabbri goes beyond a cloud of featherlight cashmere. In fact, the python hangers and boxes scattered around his white-washed showroom and the silk labels, stitched inside his garments reveal that luxury is a cult for the Florentine designer.
“There’s nothing worse than wearing a cashmere sweater with a razor-sharp polyester tag scratching your back,” said Fabbri, who launched his signature collection four seasons ago. “I had to go to France to buy the silk labels because nobody in Italy makes them anymore. They’re much too expensive.”
Based in Florence, Fabbri’s love for beautiful things stems partly from the fact that his design career has always revolved around top-notch names. After a stint as buyer and creative director for the avant-garde Luisa Via Roma specialty store in Florence, Fabbri landed at Loewe and, before going his own way, was chief design consultant for Oliver, Valentino’s snappy younger line, now discontinued.
“Modern luxury for me is to conceive a garment that lasts in time, not something that you throw out after one season,” said the designer. “That’s why I operate along the lines of couture, with manual passages that are very elaborate even though they don’t look it.”
Elements of sartorial workmanship crop up in the spring collection. Fabbri favors slightly flared tuxedo pants, which he adorns with a ribbon of grosgrain down the front or the side of the leg. He also uses the grosgrain inside the waistlines of trousers and knee-length skirts and in the lining of jackets, an old technique that adds structure. Slim and soft leather jackets have stretch nylon inseams for comfort, knitted tank tops have a band that can be pulled up or down depending on how sexy you want to look. For evening there are swooshing silk georgette gowns with tulle overlayering. The palette includes rose, powder pinks, ivories and olive green and on a metallic note, copper, gold and silver.
Fabbri’s sleek look though doesn’t come cheap. A silk intarsia blouse wholesales for $250, pants are $128 and a leather jacket goes for $500. Prices are converted from lire at current exchange rates.
Fabbri’s debut collection was immediately snatched up by some of the world’s best stores: Neiman Marcus in the U.S., Joseph in London, Victoire in Paris and Pupi Solari in Milan. Today, the lines is carried in 50 sales points worldwide, having added Saks Fifth Avenue, Janet Brown and Barneys New York, and 1998 sales totaled $2.2 million.