Gianfranco Lotti: One Piece Only, Beyond Luxury

_MG_9335Soft matte alligator “Diamond” bag

It is hard to resist the whiles of the supremely romantic city of Florence and the legendary artistic heritage that’s so deeply embedded in its bones. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, arguably the culturally richest era in the history of time, Florence is where artists roamed and reaped divine inspiration in the process. Centuries later, everywhere you turn, history and beauty pours from the cobblestone streets and statue-studded piazzas. It’s no wonder some of the best bag craftsmen in the world are found here.

_MG_9252The “Pearl” tote in shiny alligator with double keyhole closure

_MG_9515Lizard and calfskin wristlet! The lock always faces left.

GianfrancoLotti6Touring the manufacturing facility. Every single Gianfranco Lotti bag is 100% made here.

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I recently returned to my favorite Italian city with Gianfranco Lotti, a brand currently redefining luxury. In the process, I explored a whole new side of Florence. Not far from Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is a world where bag dreams come true. Indeed, the golden age is alive and well in the rolling Tuscan hills, particularly within the awe-striking confines of Gianfranco Lotti’s manufacturing atelier. Lotti has been artfully crafting bags for many of the world’s finest luxury brands since 1968 (I can’t mention names, but I’m willing to bet you own a few). Simultaneously, his eponymous brand has long been a favorite of celebrities and fashion icons alike (including Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi and actress Madalina Ghenea), all elevated women who yearn for quiet luxury.

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003_DAN_2482.jpg_Grand opening of the Salon Privé in Florence

Gianfranco Lotti;Madalina Ghenea;Franco Luca'Gianfranco Lotti, Madalina Ghenea, and Franco Luca

Gianfranco LottiMelissa Lloyd Maish and Jasmine Spezie

Gianfranco Lotti himself gave the tour of his headquarters. A passionate Florentine, he clearly takes each and every bag he creates, all 100% handmade in Florence, most personally. From the selection of skins to the utmost quality control of finished bags, he is as hands-on as the experienced craftsmen who occupy his workrooms. Mr. Lotti showed us everything from the pristine skins to the bag-shapers crafted by Florentine carpenters (yet another craft Florence claims as its own; as a matter of fact, Pinocchio was born here, too!) for the structured bags, like the Diamond bag (a personal favorite of mine). His trademark? Keyhole-lock hardware, inspired by 14th century Florentine doors. Always facing left, the keyhole is a fitting signature for the brand; it’s mysterious and secretive– as a woman is.

Catherine BabaThe incredibly chic Catherine Baba

Tina CraigMy one-of-a-kind, custom Nha Khanh dyed Chantilly lace top and Céline pants

Gianfranco LottiThe next day, the real fun began (at least for me!) co-designing my One Piece Only bag. Loved sharing ideas of what I want in my dream bag!

Gianfranco LottiChoosing hardware…rose gold for the win!

While on my trip, I also attended the grand opening of Florence’s Salon Privé with the well-heeled likes of Gianfranco Lotti Brand Ambassadress Madalina Ghenea and French stylist Catherine Baba. It’s a gorgeous space where one can relax amongst the bustle of the city, while shopping for leather goods and exploring a well-curated ready-to-wear collection at your leisure (think sumptuous, double-face cashmere coats and sable-lined puffer vests). The Salon’s Creative Director Melissa Lloyd Maish is no stranger to the luxury world. An American by birth, Melissa has spent the last 25 years in Florence helming brands such as Ferragamo and Bally.

Gianfranco LottiSo much fun! You must try a One Piece Only experience.

Tina Craig;Melissa Loyd MaishShowing Melissa exactly what I wanted.

Gianfranco Lotti;Tina Craig;Melissa Loyd MaishYou can’t tell yet, but this bag is going to be multi-functional with lots of removable parts.

Melissa Loyd Maish;Gianfranco Lotti;Tina CraigWoohoo! Two hours later, and I think we’ve got a bag!

Most exciting about the house of Gianfranco Lotti is the One Piece Only, the haute couture, custom bag service they offer. I met with Melissa and Gianfranco for two hours – over vino, of course! – at the Salon Privé, where we discussed everything from my multi-faceted life as a working mom and wife to my passions and interests to my son’s school achievements to the best olive oils (more on that topic another time; Italians take their olive oil very seriously!). We didn’t just chat, though. The result of the meeting, thanks to One Piece Only, is a multi-functional bag that’s as complex as my life in its thoughtful design, yet it will allow me to float effortlessly from volunteering at the school to cocktails and beyond. And not only is it unique in form – it’s unique to me. This service isn’t about Gianfranco designing a bag for you; it’s about you participating in the co-design of your bag. And not to worry if you don’t live in Florence! This luxury experience is available to all Bag Snobs! Whether you’re in China or Europe, you too can get the chance to meet with Melissa and Gianfranco to design the bag of your dreams.

Gianfranco Lotti;Diana D'Arenberg;Melissa Loyd MaishThe One Piece Only experience is truly remarkable. To have Gianfranco himself present to guide you through the process makes it that much more special.

Gianfranco Lotti;Nicolas Ouchenir;Melissa Loyd Maish

Gianfranco Lotti;Catherine Baba;Melissa Loyd Maish

Melissa Loyd Maish;Gianfranco Lotti;Mélonie Hennessy

What’s more luxurious than knowing you are the only person in the world who owns a genuinely special bag? We often speak of luxury losing its luster in the modern age, thanks to the exaggerated prevalence of many high-end designs, the immediacy that comes with the onslaught of social media saturation, and the consequent fashion information overload. As a result, we’re left to fear our luxury bag purchases are ubiquitous before the season is over. This, my Snobs, is the answer: unlock the key, move past the ordinary, and go beyond commonplace luxury with Gianfranco Lotti.

TinaCraig_GianfrancoLottiTook the soft alligator “Diamond” bag for a spin!

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2 Comments

  1. Pam
    November 15, 2015 / 10:44 am

    gorgeous bags!

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