2019 began with one of my favourite parts of running this business – visiting Italy and my handbag manufacturers there. I spent a few days beginning at my first factory in the Marche region, travelling across Umbria and finishing at my new factory in Florence. It’s always a pleasure to meet the people helping to bring my designs to life.
The Marche region is on the east coast of Italy which has lovely beaches and delicious seafood. My factory here specialises in metalwork, producing my unique clutch bag shapes and also the fixtures on my larger handbags. I got to have another tour of the factory to see all the different machinery that goes into producing each small bespoke piece and finished at the assembly and quality control tables where they were hard at work.
Over the past few months, I have been working on a few new design projects and I went to check on the progress of the metalwork. As always, there are still some kinks to work out, and they are working closely with my leather handbag manufacturers in Florence whom I went to visit next.
I took a lovely drive through Umbria, a region in the middle of Italy that has amazing food and wine matched with beautiful scenery, which unfortunately I could not photograph from behind the wheel.
I stopped for a hearty lunch of truffled pasta in one of my favourite towns, Assisi, where I walked off my food by visiting the famous Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (and where I took a cheeky photo in the lower basilica – not allowed!). The scale of this magnificent building never ceases to astound me and makes you wonder how they managed to construct something so substantial in the middle of the 13thcentury.
Then it was off to Florence to visit my newest leather manufacturer. At this small, family-run factory, we discussed my existing handbag projects and tweaking samples with the person who was producing each piece. We also spoke about design ideas for things to come later this year.
Before I left Florence, I spent some time in the Uffizi Gallery amongst the greatest painters in Italian history. After hours of wandering the hallowed halls of this museum, I stumbled upon a temporary exhibition from a current Chinese artist named Cai Guo-Qiang. His pieces use extraordinary techniques to create works inspired by the great masters. Keep your eyes peeled for a post dedicated to his art in the near future.
And then there was only time for one last meal – of course, no post about my trip to Italy would be complete without at least one food photo. You can also spot a sample of one of our soon-to-be-released pieces. The days flew by quickly and before I knew it, I was on a plane back to London filled with ideas and excitement for the coming season.