is the name and brand of a new independent designer from Siena, Tuscany in Italy.
January 10th, 2011
Here’s an interview I did recently with Arpel:
Bags made entirely in Tuscany on the strength of manufacturing skill and expert craftsmanship. Elegant and original designer bags bearing the hallmark of a stylist who tirelessly pursues her dream – to create beauty.
In the fashion world secrets are often jealously guarded. No-one will say where they produce, who they work with, where they get their ideas. Francesca Romana Correale has no secrets. Her Internet blog lists and details all the places where her wonderful bags take shape. For her producing everything in Tuscany, relying exclusively on the centuries-old craftsmanship of leather artists, is a point of pride and above all an essential requirement. Her materials are selected with the greatest care: the best leather – natural only, the best cotton, custom-made Italian accessories. All chosen in the pursuit of her dream: to create beauty, a beauty made to last, to excite, to transform itself into character in the hands of its new owner. “I like the idea,” Francesca often says, “of my bags changing their appearance and taking on new life in the hands of those who buy them, through the way they dress and the way they walk, letting time age them and make them unique.”
Having grown up in Venezuela, Francesca Romana Correale studied political science in Siena and attended the Polimoda fashion school in Florence. For a few years she set aside her passion for fashion in favour of an even greater one – her daughter Iris. But two years ago the desire to give free rein to her creativity got the upper hand. Thus was born the collection of original bags that bears her name.
What was it that really sparked that decision?
One evening I saw on television that a number of top leather craft centres in the Amiata area were going to close down. I thought that was madness, so although I had been working with shoes until that time I decided to design a range of bags with a strong connection to the area.
Pride of place goes to your collection “Le Forme” – Shapes.
The idea behind the project is to combine art modelling and style. The handles are clearly the unmistakable and enigmatic theme of the collection, which is further enlivened by the colouring and by fine leathers such as ostrich, nappas, calf and crocodile.
How do you give these handles their shape?
We designed a special type of resin bolster inside the leather to give them their classic rounded shape without spoiling their lightness. They’re flexible but don’t lose their shape and can bear incredible weights.
How did you get the idea?
When I designed my first collection I thought of a world of gold, metal, medals – an atmosphere very like Versace. After working on it for months I destroyed the lot. I didn’t like it at all. My daughter saw I was upset and asked me to draw with her. “Draw what?” I said. She looked at me nonplussed, as though the answer was obvious: “Shapes. A heart, a fish…” I understood that for my collection I had to rediscover simple shapes and draw them with class. I’ve got fifteen shapes in store and in time we’ll work them up.
What do you see in your future?
To tell you the truth I have no idea. I certainly know what I don’t see. Lots of people have suggested I relocate production outside Italy to bring down prices and be more competitive, others wanted to buy the brand so as to cheapen it and make it more commercial. That’s one thing that’ll never happen. I’d rather give it all up than abandon the distinctiveness of my creations. My bond with the land and with quality is almost an obsession. And it wouldn’t be fun any more if I couldn’t choose every piece of leather, follow every stage in production, put a piece of myself in every model I sell.
You set great store by multi-media communication. That’s not very common for niche products.
I think communication is important not so much for marketing as for the feeling of establishing a personal relationship with customers. It’s great when people on Facebook let you know that there’s a bond with them because of the bag you produced. People have told me that after years they have been followed by someone who wanted to photograph their/my bag, others have said they would like to see spectacles designed by me, others send me their photo collections to give me ideas. I think it’s a personally enriching way of making fashion.