Dolce & Gabbana, Visions of Sicily

For the fashionable pair Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, their beloved Sicily is an endless font of inspiration. With several collections on a row from New York to Milan Fashion Weeks they take us on a tour to rediscover Sicilian traditions, architecture, and history through Fashion.

The sumptuous gold-thread embroidery, religious and devotional hand work as seen on the Monreale Cathedral in Palermo with the most stupendous  Byzantine mosaics.
The sumptuous gold-thread embroidery, religious and devotional hand work as seen on the Monreale Cathedral in Palermo with the most stupendous Byzantine mosaics.
Montserrat Franco in Dolce & Gabbana's Byzantine dress
Montserrat Franco wearing the Byzantine dress

 

Detail of 12-13th century mosaic of Christ Pantocrator at the Monreale Cathedral
Detail of 12-13th century mosaic of Christ Pantocrator at the Monreale Cathedral
The Cathedral of Monreale is the pinnacle achievement of Arab-Norman art.  Founded in 1172 by William II.  A Benedictine Monastery was built next to it.
The Cathedral of Monreale is the pinnacle achievement of Arab-Norman art. Founded in 1172 by William II. A Benedictine Monastery was built next to it.
An add from the Fall/Winter 2013 campaign by Dolce & Gabbana featuring Monica Bellucci
An add from the Fall/Winter 2013 campaign by Dolce & Gabbana featuring Monica Bellucci
dolce
Details from the runway at the Milan Fashion Week 2013. The sumptuous gold, the Cardinal red, the Sicilian widow black and the pure white. This collection is a romantic view of the Sicilian women going to Church, wearing their lace veils and rosaries, the accessories are exaggerated with bejeweled crowns that makes them part Saint and part principessa.
Montserrat Franco wearing Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, bag and dress from the Sicilian Baroque collection
Montserrat Franco wearing Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses from the Sicilian Baroque collection
In Dolce & Gabbana tailored suit during one of my visits to Southern Italy.
In Dolce & Gabbana tailored suit during one of my visits to Southern Italy.

The 2013 Fall/Winter Collection is all about Domenico Dolce’s homeland, honoring the materials of homespun craft (needlepoint, tapestry) the faded baroque splendor in the palaces and basilicas of Southern Italy, an invitation to look deep in to our lost traditions and beliefs, no matter what they are.

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco

La Maison d’Hermès opens a new Temple of Luxury in Milan

With a private and impeccable event the French Luxury Maison Hermès opened the doors of its new Milan flagship store on Via Montenapoleone 12, Milan’s fashion “quadrilatero”.   The Neoclassical palace was dressed up in the famous “giallo ambrosiano” the characteristic yellow color of the city and the exhibition of Pégase d’Hermès, on display in the city’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

The Pegase of Hermes on display at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, artwork by Christian Renonciat, celebrates the opening of the new store

The choice of Pégase statue it was inspired by the bronze sculpture ‘Eloge du Cheval’, which was also built by Renonciat for the famous Ecole National d’Equitation in Samur, France. Made of beautiful handcrafted wood, the wings represent the free spirit of Hermès.

The infamous "Kelly" bag is one of the best seller items, named after Grace Kelly, the bag made fashion history in 1956 when the Princess of Monaco attempted to protect her pregnancy from the paparazzi.
The infamous “Kelly” bag is one of the best seller items of the Maison, named after Grace Kelly.
Grace Kelly and her Hermes bag during her pregnant days
The Kelly bag made fashion history in 1956 when the Princess of Monaco attempted to hide and protect her pregnancy from the paparazzi.
The Birkin bag pictured here in furious red is more flexible than the Kelly and can remain easily open at the top.  The Birkin has two handles when the Kelly has only one handle.
The Birkin bag, created after Jane Birkin, the haute-hip English born but a long term resident of France is more flexible than the Kelly and can remain easily open at the top. The Birkin has two handles when the Kelly has only one handle.

Older than Louis Vuitton as a brand, Hermes is the epitome of elegance and style.  An Institution in the “savoir fare” (know how to).  In 1837 Hermes was already the leader in saddle horse making, requested by Royal Houses.  Today; from the hands of the same family, the tradition continues, evolving in smaller accessories and luxury objects of desire, the must have: bags, foulards, belts, etc.

The Hermes, horse and chariot logo.  The Maison was created by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878)
The Hermes, horse and chariot logo. The Maison was created by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878)
Enamel bracelets House of Hermes artistic vision.  Detail from the Great Odalisque by Ingress, 1814.
Enamel bracelets. Maison d’Hermes artistic vision. Detail from the Great Odalisque by Ingres, 1814 (oil on canvas) at The Louvre, Paris.
The iconic Hermes belt
The iconic Hermes belt
"The Carre" made under the Lyonese school of twill silk making.
“The Carre” made under the Lyonese old school of twill silk making. The Hermes scarf is a style icon, worn by Royalty and celebrities, coveted and admired, is not only a square of silk but a stuff of legend.
And for those avid fashion readers I recommend this book by Nadine Cole.  Since the first scarf made in 1937, the House of Hermes has produced more than two thousand different designs.
And for those avid fashion readers I recommend this book by Nadine Cole. Since the first scarf made in 1937, the House of Hermes has produced more than two thousand different designs

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco

Capri : A rock in the middle of the sea (Uno scoglio in mezzo al mare)

The Faraglioni, the island distinguished rock formations.
The Faraglioni, the island distinguished rock formations.

The myth about Capri goes back to Homer’s epic tale “The Odyssey” when Ulysses and his troop were going back to Troy, they couldn’t resist the temptation to hear the seductive songs of the Sirens around today’s Capri, they filled out their ears with wax so they won’t listen to the Sirens and kept navigating but they crashed in to the stones and vanished.

Of course you won’t vanish like Ulysses’ troops in Capri but you will be so tempted by the natural beauty.  One of the trips you can do is on a boat to the Grotta Azzurra (The Blue Grotto) where Romans used to worship the waters.

A view from The Punta Tragara Hotel
A view from The Punta Tragara Hotel

Capri is the world’s first resort, dating back Emperor Augustus (29 B.C.) at that time Capri was under Naples rule, Augustus gave to Naples the Island of Ischia and turned Capri in to his very own private Resort. Today you can enjoy the magnificence of the oldest resort in the world just like Jacky O, Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth and many more celebrities and film stars did in the 1950’s when international tourism arrived to Capri.

La Piazzetta
Capri is so charming, an island so fashionable with unique style. Just stop by the Piazzetta where you can watch the locals wearing their impeccable white pants sipping limoncellos at sunset.
Arriving to Marina Grande.  Capri is about 4 square miles, easy to explore.  Being there gives you a sensation of being apart from the world, because cars are prohibited in such a small island, you need to walk everywhere.
Arriving to Marina Grande. Capri is about 4 square miles, easy to explore. Being there gives you a sensation of being apart from the world, because cars are prohibited in such a small island, you need to walk everywhere.

When coming to Capri, don’t expect to rush anything (piano, piano) slowly slowly, this is the land of the “Dolce far niente” (sweet idleness).  Act like a local, walking the streets Jacky walked, a good excuse to get your hand made sandals to your measure by the local handcrafters, wear oversized sunglasses, a silk foulard in your head and capri pants.

"The charm of Capri then and even now, is that little by little you become part and parcel of life on the island, and as small as it is, there are always new discoveries" (Cyril Dwek)
“The charm of Capri then and even now, is that little by little you become part and parcel of life on the island, and as small as it is, there are always new discoveries” (Cyril Dwek)
The first evidence of humans, tools, weapons and pottery were found in Anacapri, the village above Capri, early Greek colonists called Teleboians who arrived in the 8th century B.C,  (Pictured here a view from Villa San Michelle)
The first evidence of humans, tools, weapons and pottery were found in Anacapri, the village above Capri, early Greek colonists called Teleboians who arrived in the 8th century B.C, (Pictured here a view from Anacapri’s Villa San Michelle)
The Etruscan sphinx at Villa San Michelle
The Etruscan sphinx at Villa San Michelle

There are many theories about the name Capri, a popular one says that it comes from the Greek “kapros” (wild boar) but the most widely theory is that it derives from the Latin “capreae” (goats) which makes sense been a referred as the Goat Island.

After Augustus died (poisoned or not by his wife Livia) his successor Tiberius took possession of Augustus villas converting them in a place for banquets and orgies, this lifestyle which is part of Capri's historical facts can be seen on Gore Vidal's film "Caligula"
After Augustus died, his successor Tiberius took possession of Augustus villas converting them in a place for banquets and good times, this lifestyle can be remembered on Gore Vidal’s film “Caligula”
The gardens at Villa San Michelle in Anacapri
The gardens at Villa San Michelle in Anacapri
When you walk around Capri one famous sightseeing is Villa Jovis, the residence of Tiberius, he named that way in honor to Jove (Jupiter) the God of conviviality
When you walk around Capri one famous sightseeing is Villa Jovis, the residence of Tiberius, he named that way in honor to Jove (Jupiter) the God of conviviality
One of the many villas you will see while walking around Capri
One of the many villas you will see while walking around Capri
The courtyard at La Scalinatella Hotel
The courtyard at La Scalinatella Hotel was home of the couturier Valentino, now owned by the Morano family, is where Churchill and Maria Callas used to party.
La Caponata Caprese, one of my favorite restaurants in Capri is Edode where you can taste their version of "caponata caprese" made with buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, kalamata olives, basil, zucchini, tomatoes and fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil under a bed of whole wheat bread dipped in water and olive oil.
La Caponata Caprese, one of my favorite restaurants in Capri is Edode where you can taste their version of “caponata caprese” made with buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, kalamata olives, basil, zucchini, tomatoes and fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil under a bed of whole wheat bread dipped in water and olive oil.
The Caprese cuisine is fresh, simple and less complicated,  the fish brought technically from the sea to the table with a few hours of being caught.  The sword fish pictured here was seasoned with just fresh aromatic herbs, lemon and olive oil.
The Caprese cuisine is fresh, simple and less complicated, the fish brought technically from the sea to the table with a few hours of being caught. The sword fish pictured here was seasoned with just fresh aromatic herbs, lemon and olive oil.
On this tiny island everything seems to taste better, pictured here the infamous Tiramisu
On this tiny island everything seems to taste better, pictured here the infamous Tiramisu
In the winter of 1952 Pablo Neruda stayed and composed during his exile at the home of prominent Caprese Edwin Cerio
In the winter of 1952 Pablo Neruda stayed and composed during his exile at the home of prominent Caprese Edwin Cerio

The iconic Caprese boutique “La Parisienne” is perhaps known for the famous Capri trousers, here is where Jacky Kennedy Onassis used to have hers tailor made. Michael Kors was for years a guest at The Grand Hotel Quisisana and he described the view from the terrace facing Via Camerelle as the front row of a fashion show. Fashion designer Oscar de La Renta went to Capri to receive the award “Tiberio d’oro” at Mare Moda, the island notorious fashion show. Valentino, Givenchy, Gianfranco Ferre, Missoni, they all came personally to show at Mare Moda.

When Emilio Pucci opened his first boutique in 1950 it was in Capri, his vivid prints  were so characteristic with Capri's vivid spirit, his boutique in Via Camerelle still stands.
When Emilio Pucci opened his first boutique in 1950 it was in Capri, his vivid prints
were so characteristic with Capri’s vivid spirit, his boutique in Via Camerelle still stands.
The Missoni boutique right next to the historic Hotel La Palma
The Missoni boutique right next to the historic Hotel La Palma
A more recent addition to Capri's fashion: The Capri watch, has the emblematic clock of the Piazzetta.
A more recent addition to Capri’s fashion: The Capri watch, has the emblematic clock of the Piazzetta.
Montserrat Franco Sphinx Capri Sandal
The tradition of sandal making in Capri is known worldwide. My sandal collection is originally made in Capri with 100% Italian leather and Swarovski crystals.
Capri style
Wearing the Capri style

Capri is more than a rock in the middle of the sea, Capri is a lifestyle, the concept of chic and casual was immortalized here and will be here to stay. If we are not the privileged ones that can make Capri our home we can
still live… the Capri way, salute!!!

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco. All pictures taken by me.  Additional Photo credits: Benny Galasso-Bely Franco.

For more info on Montserrat Franco sandals made in Capri, visit the store at:

http://www.store.montserratfranco.com