On The Origin Of Beauty

A journey through the Milanese artisan workshops where the local excellence in design and fashion has its roots

  • On The Origin Of Beauty
  • On The Origin Of Beauty
  • On The Origin Of Beauty

Milan has gradually turned into the capital of Italian fashion (and into one of the “Big Four” capitals of international fashion) starting from the postwar period, when it literally tore the title away from the other cities where national fashion was rooted - Rome, Florence and Turin - reaching its peak in the Nineties with the legendary fashion shows by Armani, Ferré and Versace.
But the relationship between Milan and fashion is not just about marketing, communication and big investments. There is a deeper, historical connection: to reach the true origin of this vocation - which is currently dominated by luxury multinationals international "fashion weeks" replicated in New York, London and Paris - one needs to explore the local tradition of craftsmanship that has always been part of the identity of Milan and of which fashion in its noblest form is a direct descendant.
For many centuries, goldsmiths, luthiers, leather workers and paper makers have worked in the small artisan workshops of the city generating a heritage of beauty and know-how that is absolutely worth discovering, and that still continues to be enriched through the work of rare, visionary and brave craftsmen.
A "grand tour" of the artisan workshops
Suspended between fashion, design and art, the objects created in the historic artisan workshops can tell us a lot about the origins of Made in Italy. However, it is not always easy to have access to these often hidden and somewhat off-the beaten-path places, let alone be able to speak with the artisans and learn the secrets of the trade, or what happens behind the scenes of what the world envies us so much.
Yet someone decided to put together an emblematic selection of these excellences in a special tour entirely dedicated to the artisan Milan. The name, Grand Tour, is inspired by the golden age of the great travels through continental Europe that young British aristocrats typically embarked on a few centuries ago to discover, among other things, Italian art and architecture.
This short journey through the Milanese artisan workshops, streets and museums includes plenty of remarkable stop-overs: from the collections of metallic and leather objects of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum to the studio of a contemporary Milanese metal sculptor and a historic leather workshop where beautiful hand-sewn shoes are made; from the precious manuscripts kept in the city libraries and archives to a famous book binding workshop where ancient techniques are still used. From the Sala degli Oriat the Poldi Pezzoli museum, which preserves over 200 goldsmith’s ware, to a prestigious jewelry workshop where you can watch expert master craftsmen at work; from the Museum of Musical Instruments (inside the Castello Sforzesco) to the workshop of a master violin maker.
Behind the idea is Elesta, an agency created by a group of women specializing in arts, culture and business management who have come together to promote the most extraordinary and unknown aspects of Italian culture.
"If we think of how Italy is perceived in the world", explains Elisabetta Gavazzi Carissimo, founder and artistic director, "the mind immediately goes to fashion, design and food. But the origin of all these things is very old: generations of artisans, centuries of experience and the succession of different styles have crafted an incredible stratification of wisdom".
This is why Elesta decided to open the doors of these secret places, of these hidden treasures to which we should all have access for learning more about a crucial part of Italian and Milanese culture. "We believe in the power of beauty, culture and art", concludes Elena Sisti, co-founder and CEO, "and we aim to offer a truly unforgettable experience".

Author : The Slowear Journal

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