12 FASH­ION

All About Italy (USA) - - Editorial - Elisa Rodi

“She taught me to cre­ate cou­ture fash­ion at af­ford­able prices:” This les­son was handed down to Ni­co­letta Spagnoli by Luisa Spagnoli, her great-grand­mother and above all a pi­o­neer of Ital­ian en­trepreneur­ship. Luisa Spagnoli’s story is one of fe­male re­source­ful­ness lived in­tensely on many fronts; along her jour­ney she got swept away in var­i­ous lives and still man­aged to in­no­vate the in­dus­trial panorama. She first did this with Perug­ina and then with the fash­ion house that still bears her name. But she was also swept away by the love of two im­por­tant men: An­ni­bale, her hus­band, a never-com­pet­i­tive part­ner, who started the ad­ven­ture in the choco­late busi­ness with her; and Francesco Buitoni, the in­dus­trial pow­er­house who de­cided to go into busi­ness with her dur­ing a time of eco­nomic cri­sis, be­com­ing the heir of the em­pire and the love of her life. The world­fa­mous Perug­ina “Kiss” was an in­ven­tion of Luisa: she cre­ated the clas­sic choco­late and hazel­nut con­fec­tion in or­der to make good use of by-prod­ucts from other con­fec­tions, pro­duc­ing a choco­late-cov­ered mas­ter­piece of gi­an­duja (milk choco­late ganache mixed with hazel­nut paste) and chopped hazel­nuts around a solid whole-hazel­nut core. Her in­ven­tion was not only in­ge­nious but also de­li­cious. This same ap­proach is also eas­ily seen in the sec­ond phase of her life, the pe­riod ded­i­cated to fash­ion. She started a farm to breed An­gora rab­bits, whose wool she used to makes shawls and sweaters, dif­fus­ing the idea of el­e­gance af­ford­able to all. When she died in 1935, the busi­ness passed to her son Mario, who trans­formed it from an ar­ti­sanal ac­tiv­ity into a busi­ness on an in­dus­trial scale. To­day, the fash­ion house makes clas­sic clothes that are pri­mar­ily sold in 152 bou­tiques in Italy and 52 stores abroad, as well as in de­part­ment stores. The Pres­i­dent and CEO of the busi­ness is Ni­co­lette Spagnoli, the daugh­ter of Lino, who in­her­ited from her great-grand­mother her tenac­ity and will­ing­ness to make sac­ri­fices for the work she loves, to the point where she can as­sure us that “the busi­ness is securely in the hands of the fam­ily and will re­main so.” Luisa Spagnoli con­tin­ues to grow, but never ages.

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